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Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney (6 mins)
Kaitlin-Sopoci-Belknap, Campaign Co-Manager for Measure T (19 mins)
John Bonifaz, Attorney and Founder of the National Voting Rights Institute (17 mins)
Local-Only Initiative Moves Ahead
James Faulk, Times-Standard
EUREKA - Dozens gathered on the steps of the Humboldt County Elections Office on Thursday to support a proposed ballot initiative that would see out-of-town corporations locked out of local elections.
The Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights has gathered more than 7,000 signatures to get the initiative on June's ballot.
Called, "The Humboldt County Ordinance to Protect Our Right to Fair Elections and Local Democracy," the measure would make it illegal for corporations from out of the area to throw money into the local political ring.
The county has 30 days to certify that the group has 4,389 valid signatures. If verified, the initiative would go before the Board of Supervisors to be placed on the ballot.
Supporters most often point to the recall attempt against District Attorney Paul Gallegos - largely financed by Pacific Lumber Co., against whom Gallegos had filed suit - and the push by Wal-Mart to change local laws to allow its store to be built on Eureka's waterfront.
Both of those efforts failed, but supporters of the proposed ballot measure say they were hard fights that were expensive and unnecessary.
Gallegos spoke Thursday and declared himself a member of the Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights.
He said the ballot initiative was "much-needed to protect the rights of the citizens of Humboldt County."
Some have questioned whether the county has the legal authority to pass this law, he said.
"It's not only our right," he said. "It's our responsibility."
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, the coalition's campaign manager, said local government is only allowed to pass such laws if they are meant to protect against impropriety and fraud, or to assure the integrity of local elections.
"We are passing this law for those reasons," she said.
Eureka City Councilman Chris Kerrigan also was on hand to support the measure.
"For me, it's just a matter of fairness," Kerrigan said. "I believe a corporation has every right to participate in campaigns, elections and democracy, but should a corporation have the ability to spend limitless amounts of money to influence local elections?"
James Faulk covers county government, civil court and politics. He can be reached at 441-0511 or email@example.com.
Humboldt County Leaders Endorse Measure T!
Democratic Party of Humboldt County
Green Party of Humboldt County
Central Labor Council of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local #1684
Building and Construction Trades of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties
Carpenters Union Local #751
Operating Engineers Union Local #3 AFL-CIO
Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney
Peter LaVallee, Eureka Mayor
Chris Kerrigan, Eureka City Council
Dave Meserve, Arcata City Council
Harmony Groves, Arcata City Council
Paul Pitino, Arcata City Council
Bob Ornelas, Former Arcata Mayor
Connie Stewart, Former Arcata Mayor
Elizabeth Conner, Former Arcata City Council
Julie Fulkerson, Former Humboldt County Board of Supervisors
... and hundreds of other individuals and local businesses! Join us today!
Learn more about Measure T in a Pros and Cons Video, produced by Eileen McGee (51 mins)
Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights