Campaign Ethics – Arvada’s Fair Campaign Practices


by John Kiljan
[updated October 29, 2015]

Dear CLRC members and friends,

“I will take personal responsibility for approving or disavowing the substance of attacks on my opponent that may come from third parties supporting my candidacy.” – from the Arvada Voluntary Code of Fair Campaign Practices

Have you ever followed an election campaign where, in the last weeks of a campaign, a candidate starts making allegations of wrongdoing, or even crimes, against an opponent that the opponent has no chance of refuting before the ballots are cast? Or otherwise starts defaming their opponent? Or addresses their opposition with vulgar characterizations or names? Or just tells out-and-out lies about their opposition?

Or more commonly, have you seen where a candidate’s supporters will start doing these kinds of things, and the candidate themselves refuse to disavow their supporters’ activities?

ethicsFortunately, Arvada City elections have been relatively free of these kinds of unfair campaign practices. The City goes further and offers those running for office the opportunity to agree to follow a code of fair campaign practices. The quote at the beginning of this article is part of that code.

Candidates who have signed this pledge do not have that noted on the actual ballot we get in the mail, but those who have signed are recorded by the City Clerk’s office, and that information is a part of the public record.

I recently asked the City Clerk’s office which candidates had agreed to the campaign code. I was told that seven Arvada City Council candidates have done that, leaving four candidates who have not. Below is the text of the voluntary code, and below that is the list of those running in the City Council elections who have signed the code and a list of those who have yet to do so.

* * *

Voluntary Code of Fair Campaign Practices

Persons who are candidates for public office in the city or persons representing organizations who campaign in support or opposition of a ballot issue may voluntarily commit to conduct themselves in accordance with a code of fair campaign practices. The Arvada Voluntary Code of Fair Campaign Practices shall include the following statements:

“As I seek public office in Arvada, I honor and will abide by the following principles as a guide to my conduct.

(1) I will address valid issues in my campaign, will tell the truth as to my intentions if I am elected.

(2) I will not engage in conduct that seeks to deflect the public’s attention by falsifying issues that obscure real concerns of the electorate.

(3) I will limit my comments or statements to legitimate challenges to that person’s record, qualifications, and positions.

(4) I will neither use nor permit the use of untruths, deception, or vulgar or coarse and abusive innuendos about an opponent’s personal and/or business life, nor will I make or condone unfounded accusations discrediting that person’s integrity.

(5) I will take personal responsibility for approving or disavowing the substance of attacks on my opponent that may come from third parties supporting my candidacy.

(6) I will not use or permit the use of campaign material that falsifies, distorts, or misrepresents facts, or will deceive the public as to the real issues before the electorate.

(7) I will neither use nor permit the use of appeals to bigotry in any form, and specifically to prejudice based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin.

(8) I will neither use nor permit the use of last-minute charges made without giving any opponent reasonable time in which to respond before election day.

(9) I will demand that persons or organizations supporting me maintain these standards of fairness.”

Date                                                                 Candidate Signature

* * *

Here is a list of those filing the Voluntary Code of Fair Campaign Practices and the dates they signed the form:

Mayor
Marc Williams, April 26th
Dave Chandler, June 19th

At Large
Bob Fifer, April 21st

District 1
Jerry Marks, February 9th

District 2
Mark McGoff, August 17th
David Palm, August 18th

District 4
Bob Dyer, August 14th

And here is a list of Council candidates who, as of October 27th, are not yet on record as agreeing to the voluntary code:

At Large
Kathy Drulard
Carl Campanella

District 1
Nancy Ford

District 4
David Jones

If we become aware of any changes to this list in the last days of this campaign, this article will be updated on the RalstonCommunity.org website. Candidates are also welcome to comment on the code in the comments section of this article at the same website.

[update: October 29th — Carl Campanella wrote, “Mr. Kiljan I wish to thank you for pointing out an over sight on my part. I did go into city hall this morning, I did check to make sure of the Fair Campaign Act agreement being signed, Yes, I had not submitted the form. I have since taken the responsibility to do so . I have not in any way made this campaign a personal attack on either of my opponents, nor have I done anything that can be construed as unfair. Again, thank you for pointing out my over sight.”] 

[update:  October 29th — David Jones wrote, “I found your post yesterday about Campaign Ethics very interesting especially when I saw that my name was one of the few that had not officially signed the Voluntary Code of Fair Campaign Practices.  While that was an oversight by me it has been corrected and I have signed and filed that document with the City Clerk.

“The good news is that I can say that I have conducted and will continue to conduct a campaign that is in harmony with the Code of Fair Campaign Practices.  I appreciate you bringing this to my attention.”]

–John Kiljan, CLRC Secretary

October 28, 2015

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