Although Mayor Helene Schneider has taken her foot off the accelerator in her quest for campaign cash, she’s still managed to raise nearly $95,000 in political donations, roughly 40 times as much as her opponent Wayne Scoles — longtime Mesa activist and City Hall critic, known for his angry council diatribes about gangs, homeless, and the city Police Department. To date, Scoles has raised $800 in donations and loaned his campaign $2,000. Given Scoles’s lack of financial support, the mystery is why Schneider would raise such a blistering sum. Equally curious is how — or why — the mayor has managed to spend nearly $60,000 so far in a race in which her victory is regarded as dead certain.
However, the race for the City Council — with two incumbents among the eight credible candidates chasing after three seats — is anything but certain. (Candidate Cruzito Cruz is not raising money, and Matthew Kramer has dropped out, though his name will still appear on the ballot.) The incumbents — moderate Councilmember Bendy White and conservative Councilmember Frank Hotchkiss — have raised $51,000 and $49,000, respectively. But the real fight, at least according to the conventional wisdom, has always been for the third seat. In that regard, candidate and former two-term councilmember Gregg Hart has raised $75,000, and David Landecker, another former councilmember, has raised $70,000. While Hart and Landecker represent different shades of the gray within Santa Barbara’s Democratic establishment, they represent subtly different viewpoints and constituencies. (Hart, for example, was endorsed by the Democratic Party while Landecker — who is urgently backed by Mayor Schneider — was not.)
Among the first-time candidates seeking a seat, Lesley Wiscomb — who has served on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission — has raised $46,000. Wiscomb is backed by Santa Barbara’s coalition of traditional slow-growthers and political conservatives that’s formed in reaction to the high-density agenda of smart-growthers seeking to build more affordable housing. Megan Diaz Alley — the most outspoken political progressive in the race — raised $36,000, with $7,500 coming from the Service Employees International Union, which represents City Hall workers. Jason Nelson, the former Marine seeking to add 20 new cops, raised $34,495, the largest donation coming from the Police Officers Association (POA), which gave $5,000. (The POA donated the same amount to Hart and White. The firefighters union — which traditionally has acted in conjunction with the POA — has not yet decided which candidates it will endorse and has made no donations.) Michael Jordan, a member of the city’s Planning Commission and an outspoken middle-of-the-roader, has had a hard time gaining political traction, raising just $12,000. Although election ballots will be mailed out next week, the results will not be tabulated until the first Tuesday in November.