ECA Newsletter 9-5-18
I wanted to use this Soapbox to give you some information on the ECA Political Action dollars and how we get those dollars, and how we spend those dollars. Along the way, we also endorse certain candidates and I wanted to let you all know how that process is completed.
When we mail out our dues invoices, you may have noticed there is a $50 or more contribution that is elective for each member to fund our PAC account. In addition, certain member firms will donate larger amounts because there may be specific issues their firm is concerned about supporting or defeating and I will reach out and ask for more money at times. Our PAC Account is generally funded to the tune of $15,000 to $25,000 at any given date. I try to keep it above $20,000 in election years.
Sometimes, the PAC will donate to fund an “Independent Expenditure Campaign” to support or defeat a candidate or a bill that we believe is important. IEC’s are completely separate from a candidate’s campaign. Typically, the IEC Committee is set up to support a candidate and that candidate is never told anything about it until the flyers hit voters’ mailboxes and the candidate is asked a question about it. IEC support is not given lightly. IEC’s are very effective if done properly. Years ago, Pam Torliatt ran against David Rabbitt for Sonoma County Supervisor and with 2-3 weeks to go, Torliatt was leading. The ECA participated in an IEC that essentially took Torliatt’s public comment on Sanctuary Cities and overlaid her words with a visual message that showed a newspaper article about an illegal immigrant killing someone in San Francisco. Torliatt’s words were in favor of sanctuary cities and the flyer showed her words with the news article and asked the voters if they really wanted to see this crime happen again-the insinuation was clear-if they voted for Torliatt, they might see their County become a sanctuary county. It worked, and Rabbitt became our Supervisor in Sonoma County.
OK-enough of the “lesson”. On to this year.
On August 22, 23, 24 Yours Truly and Art Diecke sat through 2 1/3 days of candidate interviews for the cities of Sonoma, Sebastopol, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Windsor, Healdsburg, and Cloverdale. Many thanks to Art!
The purpose of interviewing the candidates is to have useful and open exchanges of information with the candidates in a room with several associations represented-Sonoma County Alliance, The North Coast Builders Exchange, NORBAR, and the ECA. The candidates fill out a questionnaire and the interviewers read their responses before they meet the candidate. From the questionnaire we can get a pretty accurate read on most candidates and how they will vote on issues of importance to each organization. While NORBAR may be more concerned than the ECA might be with how a candidate feels about rent control, the ECA can learn a lot about the candidate as to their comments on a far-ranging group of questions. The questionnaire can be provided to you if you would to see it. Just ask!
Each candidate has a 30-minute scheduled meeting with the collective group. No one group dominates the interview and it really works well to trade off questions with the other groups. From the ECA’s perspective, I want to get a feel for how the candidate feels about Project Labor Agreements, funding for infrastructure work, how to get more housing units built and pension reform. I find those three issues quite clearly define candidates leanings that will accurately “predict” their willingness to use the ECA as a resource, to engage in debate on some issues when they come up, and how they might lean on development related issues.
All I ever ask of a candidate is the following:
- Will they work hard?
- Will they keep an open mind?
- Are they inherently fair or do they cater to a special segment of the community?
I believe through the questionnaire and the 30-minute interview process, we can really get a feel for items 1,2,3 above. Many times, a candidate simply does not know about issues. I would relate better to a candidate who admits that and states a willingness to learn more about the issue before they take a position on said issue. That willingness to learn rather than be arrogant, goes to the heart of items 1,2,3 above.
Soon, the Government Affairs Committee, Art Diecke, Brett Wilmes, Eric Koenigshoffer, Tim Smith, Glenn Smith, Brian Bottari, and Tawny Tesconi will review and discuss Art and my notes and recommendations on who to endorse, who to donate money to, the Committee will vote on and have consensus agreement that we then take to the Board of Directors on September 17 for a final discussion and vote. Only then do the dollars go out and the endorsements go public.
Hope you find this informative and descriptive as to where your PAC contributions go!
That’s All Folks!