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By Tim Hunt

Campaign spending limits coming to Pleasanton

Uploaded: Apr 15, 2021

The Pleasanton City Council majority is wasting little time in trying to put its stamp on the city.
Their latest move is moving to establish campaign contribution limits for council elections. Mayor Karla Brown joined with Councilwomen Julie Testa and Valerie Arkin to direct the staff to develop an ordinance limiting the amount individuals can contribute. Councilmembers Kathy Narum and Jack Balch opposed the motion.
The tactic is a familiar one and was used literally decades ago in Livermore when an anti-growth council established a $100 limit on campaign contributions. Reading the coverage by Julia Baum, it’s notable that Testa labelled money as the problem in politics and said she could not believe needing more than $15,000 to run a council campaign. As Balch pointed out, retail door-to-door politics work, but were virtually impossible in a pandemic environment when the last thing most people wanted is a stranger knocking on their door.
Campaign spending or donation limits are in effect at the federal level and local levels. What’s not included is the amount a wealthy individual could lend or donate to themselves—First Amendment issues or the amounts that can go through political action committees. That’s how the national parties funnel millions of dollars from wealthy donors into campaign coffers while individuals comply with their contribution limits.
What this will mean in the long term remains to be seen. Neighborhoods in Pleasanton are rolling over again (a pattern I’ve seen three times) and we’re seeing highly educated, well compensated professionals move in to raise their families here in a community with a high quality of life and quality schools. Changing neighborhoods put a premium on reaching voters new to the community and that takes money as well as volunteers.
The irony in this situation is what happened in Livermore. The no-growth proponents in the 1970s-80s figured out how to use the political action committee through the Friends of Livermore. The organization laundered tens of thousands of dollars into backing its slate of candidates and successfully elected councilmembers. The challenge came when their elected candidates had backbones and evaluated decisions instead of simply toeing the expected line.
The strategy fell apart in 2018 when they could not recruit any candidates to run and had embarrassing flip-flops among those that did run.
The same day I wrote about illumy and its angel funding round, the San Francisco Business Times reported that Pleasanton-based Degreed had just closed its Series D round at $153 million. It also announced that CEO Chris McCarthy was stepping down and was replaced by Dan Levin.
Degreed, founded in 2012, has built a platform that is designed to help companies “upskill” their workforce. It wants to disrupt traditional education and offers companies its platform so motivated employees can consistently improve their skills and learn new ones. It also provides companies with information about the skills of its employees.
The statement said that Degreed grew its employees by 50% to 600 last year and doubled its active users. During McCarthy’s eight years as CEO and COO, revenue grew 76%. After closing the Series D funding, Degreed now has raised about $290 million, according to the Business Times.