Sun Editorial: Local elections don’t have to get out of hand

THESUN

The topic of campaign funding rears its ugly head about this time every year. While it’s an issue that is associated with bigger-budget elections such as for Congress, governor and president, it’s not something that passes by local elections.

And that’s a shame — a real shame. Elections at every level should be about who’s right for the job, not who can raise, and spend, the most money.

Campaign funding reform has been discussed, and implemented, time and again, but it’s not an easy thing to control. There are plenty of loopholes, and it can be hard to track.

At the local level, though, it should be easier — and it should be regulated.

A few years ago, one municipality passed a pay-to-play ordinance that we believe every town in New Jersey should adopt.

Moorestown originally passed an ordinance to align its campaign contribution limits to that of the state — $2,600 for professional business entities and $7,200 for political action committees. Residents complained, though, and for good reason. Those numbers were a substantial increase from the town’s original limits of $300 and $500, respectively.

After signatures were gathered opposing the change, Moorestown reversed the ordinance and returned its contribution limits to the lower levels.

It was a good move, and one that we encourage other towns to make, if they haven’t already.

We’re all for pay-to-play ordinances that protect local towns from being run by outside influences such as corporations or other political entities. Local politics, more so than any other form of government, should be about the residents of the town.

Local elections should be about the candidates involved and what they will do for the town and its residents. Period.

It shouldn’t be about what businesses want to see or “political machines” want to see. It’s about the people.

We encourage all local councils, commissions and committees in New Jersey to pass regulations on contribution limits, if such regulations aren’t already on the books.

Now that the kiddies are back to school, it’s election season, and as we watch debates and read about issues from candidates at the state level — and hear of even more trouble at the federal level — it’s hard not to lose confidence in the honesty and integrity of politics today.

But local elections and local politics don’t have to be that way, as long as we control it.