Should Big Money Influence Alameda Elections?

Should Big Money Influence Alameda Elections?

Should officeholders in Alameda be selected by individual voters on the Island, or by deep-pocket individuals and organizations outside the city?

Most local folks would express a strong preference for the former, but it arguably doesn’t reflect current reality. An analysis of campaign contributions during the November 2020 general election by the League of Women Voters Alameda (LWVA) shows why:
• $4 of every $10 contributed came from outside the city.
• $6 of every $10 came from groups rather than individuals.
• $7 of every $10 came in the form of contributions of $1,000 or more.

Why is this a problem?
The League’s analysis of the last five races for City Council showed that the candidate raising the most funds won a seat in every race from 2012 to 2020. While others with less funding won seats during the time period, it appears that a strong correlation exists between money raised and votes cast. That means that large campaign contributors can affect the outcome of an election and thus the composition of governing bodies.

We’ve explored means of regulating the flow of funds to candidates and measures, but most available options serve only to drive the money underground. If special interest groups cannot give money to their preferred candidate, they will simply funnel the funds through Independent Expenditure Committees (IECs) that can support their preferred candidate so long as they don’t coordinate directly with them.

If regulating contributions is not a solution, what is?
We believe the answer is to put the responsibility for controlling campaign funding in the hands of the Alameda electorate by giving you the information you need to determine when candidates become too dependent on special interest funding for the city’s good. You can participate in that effort by looking at the information we have posted on our website at for the upcoming election as well as those of the past few cycles.

The graphics compare campaign funds by the location of contributor, the type of contributor and the size of contributions. Tables for each candidate or ballot measure itemize contributions of $1,000 or more. We also track loans received by candidates and money spent by independent expenditure committees on their behalf. After the election, we will show the amount each campaign spent per vote received. Any decision to vote for a candidate should include knowing where their funding is coming from and how that might influence their positions on public policy. We hope the information will help you do that and inform your vote.