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Incumbents lead in fundraising for City Council election

Posted: February 5, 2014 7:45 p.m.
Updated: February 5, 2014 7:45 p.m.

The field for three seats up for grabs in the 2014 Santa Clarita City Council election is a crowded one, but three candidates — including both incumbents running for re-election — have opened up big leads in campaign fundraising, according to records on file with the city.

The biggest campaign war chest in the early going belongs to Mayor Laurene Weste, who reported $16,591 in monetary contributions and $17,123.45 in total contributions during the most recent financial filing period, which ran from July 1 to Dec. 31.

All together, Weste has reported $33,399.45 in total campaign contributions thus far in her bid to retain her council seat.

The longtime city councilwoman has reported $1,054.64 in total campaign expenditures, $291.14 in the most recent filing period.

That leaves Weste with an ending cash balance of $35,159.94, according to filings at City Hall.

The second incumbent running for re-election this year, Councilwoman Marsha McLean, pulled in the most donations during the recent filing period.

According to records on file with the city, McLean collected $18,876.45 in total contributions during the most recent filing period, giving her $22,517.40 total so far.

McLean reported $649.16 in expenditures in the same period and has spent $1,415.13 in the campaign so far. This leaves her with an ending cash balance of $21,739.91 to bankroll her campaign moving forward.

McLean and Weste could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Whether the two incumbents are returned to office or not, The City Council will see a fresh face this year.

Councilman Frank Ferry is not seeking re-election, so one of the three seats in the at-large election will go to a challenger.

Among the non-incumbent candidates, the one who pulled in the most in contributions was current William S. Hart Union High School District board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine, who raised $15,269 in monetary contributions during the most recent filing period. She also made a $7,000 personal loan to her campaign, bringing her total contributions to $22,269 during the filing period.

“It’s always important to come out strong,” Mercado-Fortine said. “People want to know you are running a serious campaign and, when you start out strong, that gives the sense that you are a good, strong candidate.”

Mercado-Fortine spent $2,859 during the filing period, leaving her with an ending cash balance of $19,410.

Alan Ferdman, chairman of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee, was next in the fundraising lineup. He reported $7,314 in monetary contributions and a $2,000 loan during the most recent filing period.

This gives him $12,471 in total monetary contributions, including $4,000 in personal loans to his campaign since beginning his bid.

“This is a job that you really have to want,” he said. “It’s a situation where, if you want to be a council person, you have to be willing to put out the effort to show you are the right person for the job.”

Ferdman has reported $2,908 in total expenditures thus far, $1,015 of them coming in the most recent filing period.

Another candidate, city Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commissioner Duane Harte, pulled in $5,470 in monetary contributions during the most recent period. He also reported a $5,000 personal loan and $159 in non-monetary contributions, giving him $10,629 in total contributions.

“I think I’m doing pretty well,” Harte said Wednesday. “It’s always difficult when you’re running against incumbents, even if there is one open seat, because they always have the advantage.”

Harte has spent $2,591 on his campaign so far, leaving him with an ending cash balance of $7,879, according to city records.

Dante Acosta, a local businessman and a former congressional candidate, reported $4,020.81 in campaign expenditures in the most recent filing period.

“We’re using those funds in a very strategic way to reach out to the citizens of Santa Clarita and let them know what the campaign is about and what they can expect from me in terms of how I’ll serve them on the City Council,” Acosta said Wednesday.

He also reported $5,816 in contributions during the filing period, giving him an ending cash balance of $1,795.19.
“In a nutshell, it’s going extremely well,” Acosta said.

Another candidate, Maria Gutzeit, is self-financing in the early going, loaning $10,000 to her campaign in the last filing period.

Gutzeit recently turned her attention to the City Council race after waging a successful campaign in 2013 to win re-election to the Newhall County Water District board.

“I have a base and we’re hoping to reach out to our base for votes and for fundraising,” Gutzeit said Wednesday.

Berta Gonzalez-Harper, a longtime Canyon Country resident, reported $2,000 in personal loans to her campaign in January, according to city records.

Other candidates
A collection of other candidates for City Council this year — Sandra Bull, Moazzem Chowdhury, Dennis Conn, Stephen Daniels and Paul Wieczorek, did not have financial disclosure statements on file with the city as of Wednesday.

Several of those candidates did not officially declare bids for City Council until January — after the end of the most recent financial filing period.

The Santa Clarita City Council election will be held April 8.

Keeping options open
Some City Council candidates received donations from a campaign committee titled “Cameron Smyth for Senate 2016.”

But that doesn’t mean the former Santa Clarita Valley Assemblyman and Santa Clarita mayor is champing at the bit to get back in the political game.

“At this point I’m not actively pursuing anything, but if an opportunity presents itself I want to be ready,” Smyth said of the committee Wednesday.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




chico: Posted: February 6, 2014 8:39 a.m.

How is knowing the financial status of a candidate supposed to work for the low information voter?

Should they vote for the candidate with most money thinking they are most popular, or do they vote for candidate with the least amount of money because they always root for the underdog?

I bet this is perplexing for some.

timothymyers02: Posted: February 6, 2014 9:21 a.m.


Psephologists and candidates certainly believe that a strong fundraising showing will help them, not only in acquiring votes but also in acquiring additional funding since the view (probably unproven) is that people like being associated with a "winner." Challengers also believe this because they will often make substantial "loans" to their own campaign as a form of "flash money" to encourage other donors. This loans are seldom actually funded and almost never spent. In 2008 a losing candidate pledged to spend $50K of his own money on his campaign, which I got to say (with all due respect) is some kind of crazy!

scvforall: Posted: February 6, 2014 9:25 a.m.

I want to know who donated the money. Anyone who takes money from Cameron, big business or Newhall Land is not going to get my vote.

I want someone who isn't attached to anyone who has purchased their influence.

Bye, bye.. incumbents. Hello to the best qualified!

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: February 6, 2014 12:47 p.m.

Let's not let these horrible incumbents BUY another election. They screw us time and time again and NEVER listen to what the community wants. These two below share much responsibility for the ADDITIONAL tax thrust upon us to reduce chloride levels in our waste water. If you enjoy getting your pockets picked, go ahead and vote for the incumbents.


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