Results of the city ballot question to delete the campaign spending provision from the city charter:
• Delete the provision: 287 votes, or 45 percent
• Keep the provision: 354 votes, or 55 percent
Craig voters defied a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and a recent Moffat County District Court settlement Tuesday when they voted to keep a controversial campaign spending limit in the city charter.
The charter provision limits any candidate for city office from spending more than $500 of their own money on their campaign.
The spending limit came under fire earlier this year after the Craig City Council cited local resident Francisco Reina with a Class A municipal violation for spending more than allowed on his campaign for City Council in April.
After Reina and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a countersuit in Moffat County District Court, the city dropped its charge and agreed to void the spending limit based on a 1976 Supreme Court case that states such limits violate the right to free speech.
Although the city can no longer enforce the provision, only a popular vote can change the city charter, and so it was left to local voters to decide the spending limit's fate.
The vote was close, but support for the provision won out.
About 55 percent of voters - 354 people - voted to keep the provision, while roughly 45 percent - 287 people - voted to delete it from the charter.
Craig Mayor Don Jones and City Councilor Jennifer Riley voted to keep the provision, even though they approved the court settlement that voided the provision.
Both made it clear they supported the spending limit throughout the court proceedings with Reina and the ACLU.
"I think the majority of the community likes the fact anybody can run for an office no matter how much money you have," Riley said.
The spending limit had been around for decades, Jones said, and the only reason there was a problem this year was because the Daily Press sold too much in advertisements to one person.
"It's been there for 50 years and never had any problems with it," the mayor said.
Riley added she also supported keeping the spending limit because the city could enforce it again if the Supreme Court ever changed its ruling.
"If that happens, we can use it and we don't have to put it back on the ballot," she said.
Although it is usually liberals who promote campaign finance reform - which seeks to limit financial contributions to political candidates in the same way as the city's charter did - Riley said she is not surprised the issue had support in Moffat County, which is largely conservative.
"Moffat County feels really strongly about local politics and local control," she said. "I think they like their access to local political leaders. If somebody could buy an election, that inhibits their access and takes some of the control away from the voters."
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.