Molina leads campaign fundraising drive
by Kendall Septon | Patterson Irrigator
Oct 28, 2010 | 4283 views | 0 0 comments | 828 828 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayoral candidate Luis Molina is outpacing his challenger, Annette Smith, by thousands of dollars in fundraising, according to recently filed campaign finance reports.

Molina has amassed $6,589 in cash donations, putting him in the lead of the fundraising drive in his bid for mayor in the Nov. 2 general election, according to updated disclosure statements submitted Oct. 21 regarding the first half of October. According to Smith’s most recent report, she had received $2,500 in cash contributions to her campaign by the same date.

Mayoral and council candidates submitted a first set of financial disclosure statements for the period between July 1 and Sept. 30 earlier in the year. Final disclosure statements will be due Jan. 31, 2011.

Among the five candidates vying for two seats on the council this election, the Oct. 21 campaign report indicated that incumbent Councilman Sam Cuellar leads the pack with $1,918 in cash contributions. Council candidate James Leonard raised the second highest amount, about $1,800 cash. He was trailed by candidate Deborah Novelli, who accepted $1,300 in cash donations to her campaign.

Disclosure statements indicated that council candidate Larry Buehner took in no cash donations but claimed $2,700 in personal loans he made to his own campaign.

All other mayoral and council candidates, excluding Leonard and Sheree Lustgarten, also listed personal loan contributions. Molina and Smith posted loans to their campaigns of $2,000 and $2,216, respectively, while Cuellar’s disclosure statement showed a $1,500 loan to his campaign. Novelli listed a $625 loan to her campaign.

Lustgarten was the only candidate who opted to file Form 470, which means she anticipated she would not raise or spend more than $1,000 throughout her campaign. This excludes her from obligations to list any contributions she received or money she spent.

Friends of the candidates, influential Patterson residents and affiliates of the Del Puerto Health Care District were among some of the most notable contributors to candidates’ campaigns this year.

Del Puerto Health Care District board member Harold Hill and the district’s CEO, Margo Arnold, were unanimous in their support for the campaigns of Molina, Cuellar and Leonard. Hill donated $100 each to all three campaigns, while Arnold gave the same amount to Cuellar. She said she intends to throw her support behind Molina and Leonard’s campaigns with a similar donation very soon.

“I decided to give to these candidates because they seemed like they were going about running for office for the right reasons,” Hill said. “They’ve seemed open-minded from the beginning and also supported the health district when it was looking to expand.

“Like those people who supported our cause, I like to support candidates who showed an interest in things that are important to me.”

Other substantial contributions to the Molina and Leonard campaigns came from longtime Patterson resident Elwood Schut, owner of locally based Schut Insurance Services, who gave $500 to Molina and $200 to Leonard. Schut is a former member of the Del Puerto Hospital District board, which preceded the Del Puerto Health Care District, and his son, Evan, serves on the health care board. He said he was displeased with the way in which council members such as Smith initially blocked the district’s plans to move to the Keystone Pacific Business Park in west Patterson.

John Ramos, who owns the building that the health district now uses, does the thinking for those council members, Schut said.

“We need someone who can think for themselves,” he said, adding that he believed that is the case for Molina, Leonard and council incumbent Sam Cuellar.

Schut also contributed $250 to Cuellar’s campaign, but Cuellar returned it because he was voting on whether to approve a business park project at the site of the Patterson Airport, which Schut’s wife’s family owns.

Substantial donations from the 19 contributors to Molina’s campaign included $500 from Dave Santos, the politically active owner of Santos-Lucich Blossom Hill Farms, as well as a $250 donation from the Stanislaus County Democratic Club and a $500 donation from Stanislaus & Tuolumne Co. Central Labor Council. Molina also received $250 from Keystone Corp., which developed the Keystone Pacific Business Park in western Patterson, where the health district will move to expand its services.

Smith also boasted a few notable contributors out of the 11 who gave to her campaign. They included Stanislaus County Supervisor Jim DeMartini, $500; longtime Patterson resident John V. Azevedo, $100; Del Puerto Health Care District board member Anne Stokman, $100; and $200 from MacMortgage, owned by Chamber of Commerce president George Galloway MacMaster.

DeMartini said a significant part of his choice to donate to Smith’s campaign a second time, as he did in 2008, came from their shared stance on issues such as PCCP West Park, a 4,800-acre inland port proposed for just south of Patterson that both have strongly opposed.

“Annette’s always been a fighter, and that’s something I respect about her,” DeMartini said. “I certainly don’t agree with her on every issue, but we do agree on most of the important ones, which is why I felt she would be the best for the job.”

Two of Smith’s largest contributions came from friend Beth Terry, a Patterson resident who is also the fiancée of local farmer and developer Jeff Arambel. Records show that Terry gave Smith two separate contributions of $400 as an individual, as well as a $350 donation from ICR, the Westley-based company that she manages.

Both check donations were written directly from Terry, Smith said.

“She’s been a friend for many, many years and was also a supporter in my last campaign,” Smith said.

Campaign support for Novelli included $550 from Rotarian and friend Kenny Buehner, who is the brother of fellow council candidate Larry Buehner; $250 from DeMartini; and $500 from MacMortgage.

DeMartini noted that both Smith and Novelli were endorsed by the Republican Party of Stanislaus County, of which he is chairman. He said the endorsement also played a role in his decision to support both candidates.

Leonard’s main contributors, apart from those affiliated with the health district, included former Patterson Irrigator publisher and longtime resident Ron Swift, and Dr. Peter LaTorre. Swift gave a donation of $100, while LaTorre donated $50. Friends and family members also donated, with one former colleague in Castro Valley, Bill Kruissink, giving $650.

Aside from donations from those affiliated with the health district, Cuellar’s donations came from Santos, $299; teacher Mary Brandt, $100; and a couple of retirees in the community.

• Contact Kendall Septon at 892-6187 or kendall@pattersonirrigator.com.

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