City Council Candidates Already Fundraising for Next Year’s Races


Several Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and other city council members and candidates reported robust fundraising for the first six months of 2017, according to the latest campaign finance disclosures.

Attorney and Democrat Ashleigh Aitken raised more than $180,000 in her bid to replace Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, who will be termed out in 2018 after serving eight years as mayor.

In Santa Ana, the police union continues to be the dominant campaign fundraising force, raising over $190,000 from police officers in the first half of 2017. The next highest amount raised in the first half of this year was $20,000, by Jose Solorio, according to campaign filings submitted by Monday’s deadline.

Below is a summary of fundraising in four Orange County cities.

Anaheim

A handful of candidates in Anaheim have announced their intention to run for the Mayor’s seat and three open city council seats.

Aitken, who sits on the Orange County Fair Board, has raised $183,527 just months after announcing her intention to run for mayor.

Aitken’s father, attorney Wylie Aitken, is a board member and major donor to Voice of OC.

Her donors so far are mostly fellow attorneys, and include Kay Anderle, a litigator and ex-wife of District Attorney Tony Rackauckas; Anaheim Union High School District trustee Al Jabbar; and the Rizio Law Firm, where county Supervisor Shawn Nelson is a former partner.  According to his most recent financial disclosure statements,  Nelson, in 2016 still held an ownership interest in the law firm worth between $100,000 and $1 million.

Former Anaheim councilman Harry Sidhu is also running for Mayor, although he has not reported any campaign contributions yet.

Anaheim Hills resident Trevor O’Neill, who is running for the District 6 city council seat, raised $10,123 in the first six months of 2017. Most of the donors to O’Neill, who runs a home healthcare company, are from the health care industry. He also loaned himself $25,000 for the campaign.

Councilman Stephen Faessel raised $12,899 in contributions in order to pay off a personal loan to his 2016 campaign, and reported contributions from people like Dennis Kuhl, the chairman of Angels Baseball; fellow councilwoman Kris Murray; Communications LAB, a public affairs firm; and SA Recycling.

Irvine

Of the five council members, Councilwoman Melissa Fox raised the most money, generating $15,741 for her campaign coffers in the first six months of 2017. She used part of that money to pay off a $4,500 personal loan she made to her campaign.

Her donors include firefighter associations from Costa Mesa, Fullerton and Huntington Beach; the Irvine Police Association political action committee; California Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma; and Democratic congressional candidate David Min.

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Christina Shea raised $2,116 and Mayor Dan Wagner raised $1,539. Wagner’s campaign committee ended the period with $16,519 on hand.

Councilwoman Lynn Schott and Councilman Jeffrey Lalloway did not raise money in 2017, although Schott gave herself a $300 loan and Lalloway used $1,000 in campaign funds to make a contribution to Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake.

Farrah Khan, a 2016 city council candidate, raised $12,199 for her 2018 campaign for city council.

Santa Ana

The police union raised $190,000 through police officers this year, increasing their campaign cash-on-hand to $282,000 at the end of June.

The police union, which says the Police Department has been mismanaged in recent years, was by far the largest election spender in Santa Ana last year, with over $400,000 spent to support its endorsed candidates and oppose their opponents, largely through print mailers to voters.

The union currently has solid support from three of the seven council members, just under a majority. And of the four seats up for election next year, three are held by council members – Michele Martinez, Sal Tinajero, and David Benavides –  who have cast key votes opposed by the union, and are termed-out from running for re-election.

Solorio, who is supported by the union, is widely believed to be eyeing a run for mayor – either in 2018, or in 2020 when Pulido is termed out and Solorio wouldn’t have to face an incumbent.

Also rumored to be considering a run for mayor are Tinajero and Martinez.

Solorio has been busy fundraising, with $64,000 in cash-on-hand in his city campaign committees. His donors include local business people and unions, as well as trash contract vendors whose business comes before the council, like Waste Management, SA Recycling, and Republic Services.

Solorio also has significant campaign money left over from his time in the state legislature and on the Rancho Santiago Community College District board.

No challengers to the police union-backed candidates have reported raising any money so far.

Westminster

Westminster Councilman Tyler Diep, who is running for the State Assembly District 72, has raised $99,130 in the first six months of 2017, and ended the period with $264,515 in campaign cash. Diep is likely to transfer his city council funds to his campaign for state Assembly.

Some of Diep’s large donors include Dennis Dillon RV, Elmore Toyota, Fantasy Springs Casino, Honda World, Lexus of Westminster, former state Assemblyman Van Tran, and a variety of Vietnamese American-owned businesses.

Westminster has no campaign contribution limit and Diep received contributions as high as $2,500 from a single donor.

Mayor Tri Ta, who is running for reelection in 2018, raised $55,280 and ended June with $66,483 on hand. Councilwoman Kimberly Ho raised $23,012 followed by Councilman Sergio Contreras with $250.

Councilwoman Margie Rice and the Westminster Municipal Employees Union did not turn in any disclosures as of Tuesday, according to Interim City Clerk Marian Contreras.

Diep, Ta and Ho all received large contributions from companies who have received deals with the city over the past several months.

Sheldon Development – which was recently awarded an exclusive negotiating agreement with the city to redevelop the Civic Center – gave $2,500 to Diep and $1,000 to Ta and Ho. All three voted for the contract, as did Rice. Contreras voted against it.

Tom’s Truck Center and Dennis Dillon RV, which in June received an exclusive negotiation agreement to purchase a city-owned property, both gave to the same three council members.

Tom’s Truck Center gave $2,500 to Diep in February, $500 to Ta in June and $1000 to Ho in June. In March, Dennis Dillon RV gave $2,500 to Diep and $1000 to Ta.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

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