San Diego Union-Tribune
VISTA — Voters here approved two campaign-finance measures, but Proposition V, which was put on the ballot by the City Council, takes precedence because it got the most votes.
The vote was 10,356 for Proposition V, with 5,898 opposed. Proposition W garnered 9,599 votes, with 6,605 opposed.
The council offered Proposition V as a counter-initiative to a measure placed on the ballot by the grass-roots group Oaks Project, which has headquarters in Santa Monica.
Proposition W would have prohibited elected city officials and high-level staff members from accepting gifts, campaign contributions or employment from anyone to whom the city had awarded a contract, tax break or zoning variance.
Proposition V is more lenient, limiting contributions to those seeking office to $300 per donor.
It also prohibits any city official, appointed or elected, who leaves city employment from representing clients before the City Council for one year. It does not prohibit them from being employed by such companies or individuals.
Ed Estes Jr., the most vocal council member pushing Proposition V, was jubilant Wednesday about the voters’ decision. “The electorate spoke and their judgment should be respected,” he said.
“Proposition W backers came forward with W, and we felt it had some very serious flaws. It was unduly burdensome to administer, and it was unconstitutional limit to free speech and employment,” Estes said. “The voters had a chance to judge the matter, and we won the contest with a better campaign-reform measure.”
But local supporters of Proposition W said it was improper, if not illegal, for the City Council to propose the second measure.
“The council should never have gotten involved,” said resident Brad Drake, who headed the local campaign for Proposition W. “They subjugated the will of the people. We had 5,400 people sign their names to qualify Proposition W on the ballot, and the council should have respected that.”
Drake said similar Oaks Project initiatives were approved in San Francisco and Santa Monica, where city councils did not introduce competing measures.
Drake said his group may make a legal challenge to the outcome because the council’s measure confused “voters who really did not know what they were approving. It was part of a council campaign to promote that confusion.”
He also said the group could explore a recall election targeting Estes.
Estes dismissed Drake’s threat of litigation and a recall as sour grapes.
“We had a political contest here and that’s what makes this country great,” Estes said. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Brad’s whole argument during the campaign was that we should listen to the will of the people, and the people have spoken.”