Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 4:31 pm | Fair 67º


Letter to the Editor: Money and the Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Race

In the race for Santa Barbara County Third District Supervisor who would best represent us in this large swath of Santa Barbara County? We’ve all read comments and exhortations in this space by informed and loyal supporters of both Joan Hartmann and Bruce Porter. We’ve seen pro and con campaign literature, tv ads, lawn signs and over-sized road-side posters.

Yet most voters have not personally met them or delved deeply into the backgrounds, accomplishments and problem-solving approaches of these two capable candidates. What really motivates them and whose opinions do they tend to favor?

So how to decide? We all know how loudly money speaks in politics. It can tell us about the nature and breadth of support for candidates, and something about how they would make decisions while in office.

One measure of this is the size and number of campaign contributions. When big contributors contact officials they tend to get big attention. Research shows that large monetary contributions boost the influence of the affluent on the policy topics and ideas officeholders consider. This may bias the public agenda toward the concerns of the most wealthy.

Fortunately, anyone with access to a computer can view the candidates’ required campaign contribution filings. Doing so uncovers significant differences between the campaigns of Joan Hartmann and Bruce Porter.

Both have, thus far this year, amassed roughly the same total amount of money. But almost 40% of Bruce’s contributions were in the “super-sized” category of $1000 or more, only possible for the richest among us. Less than 20% of Joan’s contributions were this large. Put another way, Joan’s average contribution is half as large as Bruce’s. And about 75% more people have made contributions to her.

This says something about how they would deal with issues that affect our lives. I’m happy to be voting for Joan Hartmann and hope you will, too.

Seth Steiner
Los Alamos

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