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Santa Clarita City Council race spending surge

Spending goes up as clock ticks down toward Election Day deadline

Posted: March 28, 2014 7:07 p.m.
Updated: March 28, 2014 7:07 p.m.

Incumbents surged ahead in spending during the past month as the Santa Clarita City Council race neared the April 8 finish line, according to documents filed at City Hall this week.

Campaign disclosure papers that outline spending and contributions for Feb. 23 to March 22 — the last reporting period before the election — show incumbent Marsha McLean was the biggest spender with a more than $30,000 outlay, followed by the other incumbent in the race, Laurene Weste, with a more than $22,000 outlay.

The election is scheduled April 8; three of the five council seats are up for grabs.

McLean reported $30,505.29 in expenditures in the latest filing period, with a large share going toward printing, mailing and advertising costs.

The councilwoman reported $12,972 in monetary contributions during the same period and an ending cash balance of $4,715.74.

“I am supported by a very broad spectrum in this community and I’m very grateful that they think I’m doing a good job and they donate to my campaign,” McLean said.

Mayor Laurene Weste reported $22,611.70 in expenditures during the recent filing period.

Weste also received $14,727 in total contributions and an ending cash balance of $19,981.24, according to city figures.

Though her spending was high this period, Weste said she thinks the most important part of a campaign is just getting out and talking to people.

“I gain a lot of insight from listening to the citizens about their ideas or if they have an issue,” Weste said.

Another major spender recently is Moazzem Chowdhury, who reported $20,375.53 in total expenditures in the Feb. 23-March 22 filing period, much of it going toward various forms of advertising.

Over the life of the election, Chowdhury has spent $42,559.15, according to city records.

One reason for his high spending, he said, is the relatively short amount of time to get his name out.

Maria Gutzeit also reported a large amount of spending during the recent filing period, noting $15,008.71 in expenditures along with $10,851.97 in contributions

She had an ending cash balance of $9,819.38.

Duane Harte has a similarly sized reserve built up, reporting an ending cash balance of $10,556. He reported $4,525 in contributions and $5,469 in expenditures between Feb. 23 and March 22.

Dante Acosta wasn’t far behind, reporting an ending cash balance of $9,395.75. He reported $2,098 in contributions and $6,443.29 in total expenditures during the latest filing period.

Gloria Mercado-Fortine reported $5,304 in contributions and $10,807.94 in expenditures. She also reported an ending cash balance of $8,731.06.

Alan Ferdman reported $2,198 in contributions and $8,067 in total expenditures along with an ending cash balance of $6,394. Berta Gonzalez-Harper reported $843.19 in contributions in this filing period and an ending cash balance of $535.05. She reported no expenditures.

Another candidate, Stephen Daniels, reported $1,553 in contributions during the filing period, along with $1,418.09 in expenses.

One of Daniels’ contributors during this filing period was Kevin Shenkman, a lawyer with the Malibu firm Shenkman and Hughes.

That firm was involved in lawsuits against the city, Sulphur Springs School District and Santa Clarita Community College District claiming their at-large election systems — whereby voters can cast ballots for every seat up for election, not just one tied to where they live — violated the California Voting Rights Act by preventing Latino voters from electing candidates of their choice.

The city and Sulphur Springs have since announced settlement agreements in their cases.

Daniels has said throughout the campaign that he supports switching the city’s election system to a district-based one, with each voter casting a vote for a representative in the area in which he lives.

Such a system would make city government more accessible.

“Shenkman obviously supports districts, and I support districts, and that’s the bottom line,” Daniels said Friday.

“I believe that districting itself is about taking big money out of the campaigning and allowing people to walk the streets and meet the people,” he said.

Other City Council candidates — Sandra Bull, Dennis Conn and Paul Wieczorek — filed forms with the city indicating they do not anticipate receiving or spending $1,000 or more during the calendar year.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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