Humboldt County supervisors to talk campaign finance reform; McKinleyville construction project up for approval

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will discuss campaign finance reform during today's meeting after tabling the issue last spring due to lack of public interest and complications developing a law.

Chairman and 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn said he requested the item be brought before the board because people asked for it.

"People keep bringing up the concern of big money, big donations in the elections," Bohn said. "I'm trying to put it out there for all of us to discuss and see if it's worth looking at."

He said he recommends the board consider a donation limit of $1,500 per person, per year.

In 2010, the Eureka City Council voted in favor of a $500 per person cap on donations to city candidates.

Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace said he supports campaign finance reform, but thinks it should be community driven.

"I hope that whatever is discussed (today), I hope it will really start with an outreach to the community to see what the community wants to see," Lovelace said. "As elected supervisors, we all are affected directly by what kind of campaign finance reform. We all have our ideas of what's the good money and the bad money."

According to campaign disclosure forms, candidates for four Humboldt County offices combined to spend more than $1.2 million on their campaigns in 2010.

Supervisors Virginia Bass and Ryan Sundberg first raised the issue last January because they were concerned about how much is spent on elections. Neither returned calls seeking comment.

The board initially voted to move forward with the issue, but postponed a potential ordinance after receiving public responses and hearing county Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich speak about concerns raised by the Election Advisory Committee -- including the cost of defending an ordinance if legal challenges arose.

"It didn't go anywhere last time," Bohn said. "We talked about it, nobody made a motion, but it still is something everybody is concerned about. People have asked for it, I think people deserve to have it presented again."

If the board decides to move forward with this item, Bohn said he would like to see any reform in place before the November elections.

In other business, the board will vote on a construction project aimed at improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety in McKinleyville.

According to a staff report, 1,500 feet of sidewalk, two pedestrian islands, delineated separate and shared bike lanes and an asphalt multi-use path along School Road from Fisher Road to Salmon Avenue will be built. The project will be funded through Federal Highway Administration Transportation Enhancement money.

Construction costs are estimated to be $385,000, plus $22,000 in California Conservation Corps work, and $19,000 in McKinleyville Community Services District utility relocation costs, the report said.

If you go:

What: Board of Supervisors meeting

When: 9 a.m. today

Where: Supervisors' chamber, first floor, Humboldt County Courthouse, 825 Fifth St., Eureka

The full agenda can be viewed online at

Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.