With just six weeks to go before the city’s November elections, Santa Barbara mayoral candidate James Joyce III unveiled a plan to introduce campaign spending limits in the city’s future mayoral races. The proposed restrictions include capping the total amount any mayoral hopeful can spend at $150,000, limiting the maximum size of individual donations to $1,500 (as of the first of the year, state law has set it at $4,900), and precluding any entity with business before the council from making donations a year prior to council action and until 90 days after.
Joyce — longtime administrative assistant to former state senator Hannah-Beth-Jackson — has raised around $60,000 to date. This puts him substantially behind fellow candidates Mayor Cathy Murillo, former councilmember Randy Rowse, and City Planning Commissioner Deborah Schwartz, all of whom are reporting six-figure campaign war chests.
If the council were to adopt such restrictions, they would not go into effect for this fall’s elections. However, Joyce — via press statement — argued they would go a long way to curbing the influence of unions, developers, and other well-heeled special interests in the outcome of Santa Barbara city elections, not to mention the appearance, if not the reality, of pay-to-play, quid-pro-quo politics.
If Joyce’s proposal bears a striking resemblance to a proposal put forth by Laura Capps during her supervisorial race against Das Williams two years ago, that’s not surprising; both hired Wade Cowper as their respective campaign managers. Cowper predicted spending on this year’s mayoral race will all but certainly exceed the million-dollar mark, terming it “a gross waste of money.” Given that the suggestion was made during political season, its chances of gaining immediate tractions are slim.
In addition to the mayoral spending restrictions, Joyce has proposed a $50,000 spending cap for city council district races.