Check out our Campaign Financing Dashboard!
The City of San Mateo is the first in the county to provide an interactive way for people to navigate campaign finance information. The Council Campaign Financing Dashboard includes charts and graphs that break down campaign expenditures and contributions.
On November 8, 2022, San Mateo held its first District Election.
Before 2022, all registered voters in the City voted for all five members of the City Council. Beginning in 2022, residents voted for candidates running in their specific district. Learn more about San Mateo's transition to District Elections.
Several cities, school districts, and special districts in the County still use at-large elections. Other places this type of election is seen include:
- State offices: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State School Superintendent, State Attorney General, etc.
- U.S. Senator
- Larger cities will have district elected Councilmembers with an at-large Mayor (Ex: San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles)
To run a political campaign for a candidate or a ballot measure (including propositions and initiatives), campaigns typically require funding from outside sources for everything from:
- Phone Banking - calling prospective voters to talk to them about your cause
- Posters, yard signs, tv spots, social media ads
- Events/meet and greets
- Hiring consultants
- There are two direct types of campaign contributions
- In Kind Contributions: Cash-equivalent donation of someone helping a candidate (volunteering their professional skills such as a web-designer or donating lawn signs and stickers)
- Cash Contribution
- Candidates can also benefit from Independent Expenditures.
- This is where an independent political action committee spends money to advocate for a candidate, measure, or political party without the candidate's coordination or authorization.
Why should I care?
Reviewing a candidate/measure/committee’s campaign funding can help you determine how to vote on a race or a ballot question:
- Do you support and agree with the people that have donated to a candidate/measure/committee?
- Does an organization/individual’s donations to a campaign mean they have more influence on the candidate or that the candidate agrees with them?
- Are the organizations/individuals donating for or against a measure, organizations/individuals that you agree with?
- Is the candidate/measure/committee receiving local donations? Mostly donations from outside the voting area? Widespread donations?
Where do I find out more about campaign finances?
- The City Clerk's office hold the campaign finances for city elections.
- The Council Campaign Financing Dashboard provides an interactive way for people to easily navigate campaign finance information
- The County Elections Office hold the campaign finances for county elections.
- The California Secretary of State hold the campaign finances for state elections.
- The FEC holds the campaign finances for federal elections.
City of San Mateo:
- The City of San Mateo Municipal Code covers how much money candidates for City Council can receive from individuals and organizations. The Municipal Code includes a section that requires the City Council to conduct a post-election review to consider the ongoing appropriateness of the provisions of this chapter;
- Individual contributions cannot exceed $500
- Organization contributions cannot exceed $1,000.
- Candidates can't personally make a loan to their campaign exceeding $15,000.
Do all cities have their own campaign ordinance?
- No. In the State of California, if a City doesn’t have its own campaign ordinance, candidates are governed by State rules for Senate and Assembly seats
During an election year, candidates have to regularly submit campaign reports to the City Clerk in order to give the public access to their finances and to ensure that they are following local rules.
All the candidates' campaign finances are published on the City’s website three days after the due date. Campaign Statements and Filings.
For the 2022 Election Cycle (Primary and General)
- State Senate and State Assembly candidates can receive up to $4,900 from a person/business and $9,700 from a small contributor committee. There is no campaign finance limit for political parties donating to a candidate.
- A candidate for state offices, such as secretary of state, can receive up to $8,100 from a person/business and $9,700 from a small contributor committee.
- A candidate for Governor can receive up to $32,400 from a person and organization. Similarly, there is no limit for party donations.
- Click here to find the campaign finance report of your representatives.
- U.S. Senate, U.S. Representatives, and Presidential campaigns are regulated by the Federal Election Commission.
- Review what campaigns an individual or a company has funded.
- Find out who is funding federal candidates.