Longmont City Council Gives Initial Approval to Changing Campaign Finance Requirements

April 10, 2019

Longmont City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to give initial approval to an ordinance that would revise some of the regulations for reporting contributions and spending in municipal elections, and the penalties for violating those rules.

The proposed changes in Longmont’s Fair Campaign Practices Act will now be set for a public hearing and final council action on April 23 and, if approved, will take effect in May.

The act was last updated in 2011.

Paul Tiger, one of the members of an advisory panel that helped draft the current local law, applauded some of the changes, particularly one that would cap at $999 the total cumulative fines for candidates violating the campaign finance reporting requirements.

Fines levied in the past have stemmed from people’s mistakes rather than deliberate intent to violate the code, Tiger said. Longmont shouldn″t punish people for running for office, he said.

Under another of the changes in the ordinance, if a person found by the city clerk to have violated the reporting requirements appeals that finding to municipal court, the judge would have the authority to consider “good cause” or “excusable neglect” when considering whether to adjust fines set in the code.

The ordinance would revise and add requirements about when candidates must file periodic reports before and after Election Day.

If it gets final approval, the measure’s requirements would apply to anyone who is already a candidate, as well as any who joins the field later this month or in early May.

Thus far, only two people have filed affidavits for candidacy in this year’s council elections.

One is Schuyler Trowbridge, who is running for the at-large seat now occupied by Councilwoman Joan Peck, who hasn’t announced whether she will seek re-election.

The second is Noah Hess, who is seeking the northeast and far eastern Longmont Ward 1 seat now held by Councilman Tim Waters, who also has not announced whether he is running again.

Also up for election this year is the mayoral seat. Incumbent Mayor Brian Bagley has not announced whether he will run again.

Northwest Longmont’s Ward 3 council seat will be an “open” seat, with no incumbent running, because Councilwoman Bonnie Finley is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.

John Fryar: 303-684-5211, jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc