The slate of three conservative incumbent Santa Barbara City Council members — Randy Rowse, Michael Self, and Dale Francisco — took the lead in campaign donations during the four-week period ending October 22 over the slate of challengers backed by the Democratic Central Committee — Cathy Murillo, Iya Falcone, and Deborah Schwartz — not to mention independent challenger Sharon Byrne.
The incumbents — who had trailed in previous reporting periods — raised $111,863 in the past month compared to the challengers’ $79,340. Likewise, the incumbents had more money in the bank than the challengers, $95,797 as opposed to $79,340. And in donations less than $100 — which either denotes support from outside the competing power establishments or donors too embarrassed to be seen giving — the incumbents posted a decisive edge, $6,626 as opposed to $3,439. Only in total amounts raised during the totality of the race do the slate of Democratic Party-backed challengers show an advantage, having raised $246,668 as opposed to $214,461.
Byrne, who is hoping to find traction with voters disenchanted with political machines and party politics, raised $15,778 in the last month, bringing her total to $27,864. But as she goes into the final stretch, Byrne has only $2,431. The other three candidates — Sebastian Aldana, Jerry Mateo, and Cruzito Cruz — are not raising money in their quest for public office.
The bulk of the incumbents’ donations came from real estate investors, downtown business interests, Montecito homeowner activists upset by the prospect of state-imposed affordable housing mandates, old school slow-growthers hostile to increased housing densities, and activists and organizations associated with the Republican Party. By contrast, the slate of challengers drew their biggest support from unions, County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, and the Democratic Central Committee, the latter having donated more than $5,000 of in-kind contributions to all three.
The two unions representing public safety workers emerged as the 800-pound gorillas — donating $17,000 (combined) in in-kind contributions to each of the three candidates they supported. These unions broke with the Democratic Party slate, however, donating $12,000 to Falcone, Schwartz, and Byrne. The firefighters union gave the same threesome $5,000. Of all 10 vying for the three council seats, Schwartz reported the most — $92,000. Byrne, with $27,000, reported the least.