In the News

First-timer Pamela Comstock tops city fundraising list

By Jason Hoppin
Santa Cruz Sentinel, 10/08/12

SANTA CRUZ -- Having scored a series of high-profile endorsements for her inaugural political campaign, Santa Cruz City Council candidate Pamela Comstock has followed through by topping all contenders when it comes to raising campaign cash.

The operations manager and founder of Take Back Santa Cruz raised $31,800, and still has more than $10,000 in the bank. To do so, she plied a network of local contacts, including many small business owners and several local elected officials.

"The success is the result of over 250 people donating to my campaign," Comstock said. "It's about my message resonating with people."

Comstock's message has been pro-business and strongly behind improved public safety. Her backers range from local activist Janet Fardette to county Treasurer Fred Keeley, Supervisor Neal Coonerty and supervisor candidate Bruce McPherson, all considered moderates.

Comstock is not abiding by voluntary campaign spending limits -- a mark she seems poised to blow by -- and is spending more on advertising than other candidates, including $1,525 to put ads on local pedal-powered cabs.

"I'm just hoping to raise enough so I can get my message out to everyone. As a first-time candidate I need to be able to share my message," Comstock said.

Mayor Don Lane came in second, despite setting lower limits on donations than the city allows. Lane won't accept donations of more than $250, and is abiding by the city's spending limit of $26,641.

"It's really important that we not have the perception that any one person or any one group is having disproportionate influence on the city's decisions," said Lane, who has raised $22,800 despite those limits.

In her bid to return to local political office, Cynthia Mathews has raised $21,200. Supporters include local officials such as Keeley, Coonerty and McPherson, but also outgoing state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and others.

But both Mathews -- seeking a return to the City Council, where she served for a total of 16 years -- and Lane have spent modestly, already having secured the advantage of name recognition. Each has more than $14,000 in the bank, more than Comstock.

For the Nov. 6 election, eight candidates are running for four seats, with Lane's being up, as well as seats being vacated by Katherine Beiers, Tony Madrigal and Ryan Coonerty.

Also in the mix for seats are Micah Posner, a community organizer and former director of the bicycle advocacy group People Power; Richelle Noroyan, a marketing specialist and former chair of Santa Cruz County Democrats; Cece Pinheiro, a nonprofit executive; local activist Steve Pleich and carpenter Jake Fusari.

Building on a coalition of unions and environmentalists, Posner has raised more than $18,500. He also has more than $10,000 in the bank, and is abiding by fundraising limits -- something he advocates strongly for. He has not been shy about weighing in on controversy, and is the only candidate to donate to a campaign to put a proposed desalination plant on the ballot.

"I think people appreciate not only that I don't want desal, but that I'm willing to state an opinion about it," Posner said.

Noroyan has raised $15,100 so far, though her campaign can expect a boost from several union and party endorsements.

Pinheiro's campaign fundraising has yet to take flight. She has scored $6,600 in donations -- including $2,400 in loans -- while Pleich lags behind at $2,700. Fusari's reports were not immediately available.

One closely watched local campaign is an effort to make sure locals get to vote on a proposed desalination plant in Santa Cruz. Though local officials already have committed to a vote, backers hope to ensure it through a November vote.

The Right to Vote on Desal Coalition raised a healthy $22,900, including from environmentalists Gary Patton and Jonathan Wittwer and former Santa Cruz Mayor Bruce Van Allen. Local activists such as Paul Elerick and Rick Longinotti, who is part of the campaign, also have put their money behind it.

With a $100 donation, Posner is the only council candidate to write a check for the Right to Vote on Desal Coalition.

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