Page One

Money Talks in Berkeley City Council Campaigns

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday October 31, 2006

If money talks in political campaigns, it’s roaring these days, at least in a couple of Berkeley campaigns.  

According to the Oct. 26 filing—that included Oct. 1 to Oct. 21 contributions—District 7 hopeful George Beier is the biggest spender so far in Berkeley’s 2006 campaign season, having paid out $72,150,27. The district has some 4,000 voters.  

In contrast, incumbent Kriss Worthington, who spent $41,000 on his 2002 campaign, has raised and spent only about $28,000. 

While bringing in a total of just under $100,000, Mayor Tom Bates has spent only about half of that. Challenger Zelda Bronstein has spent most of the $35,000 she’s collected, which includes an $8,000 loan to herself.  

Mayoral candidate Zachary Running Wolf has not filed a campaign finance report and candidate Christian Pecaut raised $250 and spent $176. 

In the District 8 race, incumbent Gordon Wozniak raised $50,000 and spent most of it, while challenger Jason Overman raised $17,000 and spent about $21,000 (which includes loans). In 2002, Wozniak spent $72,000 on his race, including a run-off. 

In District 4 Dona Spring has raised $14,000 and spent $12,000, while challenger Raudel Wilson has raised and spent almost exactly the same amount. The Chamber of Commerce political action committee spent an additional $7,000 for brochures opposing both Spring and Worthington. 

And in the District 1 race, incumbent Linda Maio has raised about $500 and challenger Merrilie Mitchell has not raised any funds. 

District 7 

Beier, who sold a software business a few years ago, has been able to pour his own money—$19,000 to date—into the mix. In total, he has $40,000 in outstanding loans.  

Candidates contributing to their own campaigns need not abide by the $250 individual campaign-spending limits.  

Beier has benefited by the $7,000 in anti-Worthington/anti-Spring campaign spending by the Chamber of Commerce political action committee that included contributions of $5,000 from Patrick Kennedy’s Panoramic Interests, $5,250 from San Rafael-based Seagate Properties, and $10,000 from Waresham Development Corporation. (The Chamber raised $38,000 and spent $61,000 to defeat Measure J and candidates Spring and Worthington and to support Beier and Bates. Contributors gave funds to the PAC without specifying the destination of the funds.) 

Beier picked up 62 donations, raising about $16,000 during the Oct. 1 to Oct. 21 period. About one-third of the donations came in over $200, about one-third of them were between $100 and $199 with the final third under $100.  

Of interest are three donations in this filing period from people who work for the Wareham Property Group, Inc., which is involved in developing west Berkeley properties—two $250 donations and one $50 donation from real estate developers with Ru-Ell Enterprises. There’s also a $250 donation from Berkeley School Board member Shirley Issel and a $50 donation from a senior vice president at Walt Disney.  

Worthington picked up 63 contributions during this filing period amounting to $9,000: 25 contributions of less than $100, 23 from $100 to $199 and 15 at more than $200. Donors included Assemblymember Wilma Chan, who gave $50 and Councilmember Max Anderson, who gave $250; Pat Cody, founder of Cody’s books, gave $50; parks advocate Mark Liolios gave $250, environmentalist Norman La Force gave $100; progressive attorney Osha Neumann gave $50: artist Khalil Bendib gave $100 and artist Chiori Santiago gave $50; the Sierra Club gave $250.  

Beier’s expenses include $22,000 (of which $8,500 was paid this period) of services purchased from a San Francisco-based mailing house, MSHC Partners. 


Mayor’s race 

This reporting period Bates collected $25,000 from 144 contributors of which 65 were for the spending limit of $250. Contributors include six labor unions,14 people identified as realtors or property managers and two UC Berkeley professors. 

Zelda Bronstein raised $11,000 from 33 contributors, 14 of which were for less than $100. Bronstein loaned her campaign $8,000. Contributors included three university professors, Oakland City Councilmember Nancy Nadel and a number of retired persons. 


District 8 

In the District 8 race, incumbent Gordon Wozniak has garnered $51,000, of which $17,000 was raised this period. Wozniak picked up 47 contributions of which 16 were at $200 to $250. Of interest are contributions from three individuals who work for Wareham Development Group: Chris Barlow, Cassie Gaenger and Richard Robbins. Three other $250 contributions came from employees of Rue-Ell Enterprises: Dana, Alexandra and Robert Ellsworth. Wozniak also picked up $250 contributions from School Board Member Shirley Issel and from the Berkeley Firefighters Association. Two contributions of $50 came from Northeim/Yost Real Estate principals John Northeim and Donald Yost. Two UC Berkeley professors are also among the $50 donors: Gibor Basri and Joseph Cerny. 

Challenger UC Berkeley student Jason Overman has raised $17,000, including $10,000 in loans from himself. During this period he picked up $2,291 from 18 donors that include three students, City Councilmember Max Anderson, Transportation Commissioner Robb Wrenn and library activist Gene Bernardi.  


District 4 

District 4 incumbent Dona Spring has raised a total of $14,500, having picked up $1,500 this period from 16 individuals, of which nine were for less than $100. Spring spent about $12,000. Spring’s contributors include attorney Robert Raich, artist Susan Felix and writer Charles Pappas. 

Challenger Raudel Wilson raised a total of $14,500 of which he raised almost $3,000 this period. Like Spring, Wilson spent about $12,000. (Wilson told the Daily Planet he had paid for a districtwide mailing after the reporting period was over.) Fourteen people contributed to the campaign during this period, with ten of them giving $250 contributions. Contributors included the Berkeley Firefighters union, two realtors working at Coldwell Banker, Barbara and Kim Marienthal and Susan Muscarella, the executive director of the Jazz School.