SAN LEANDRO: Benny Lee holds large early fundraising advantage over incumbent Mayor Cutter

San Leandro Councilmember Benny Lee’s ever-growing city council campaign coffers is coming in handy for his mayoral campaign this fall against first-term Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter.

Lee transferred $50,000 from his council committee to his mayoral campaign last March—an already sizable amount for most San Leandro political races.

Lee raised an additional $27,714 in contributions during the mid-year reporting period. His total cash on hand sits at $75,418, through June 30, and three times than more Cutter’s mid-year total. Lee spent $2,345 during the same period.

Among his largest contributions is $2,500 from the California Apartment Association.

Cutter’s fundraising effort, meanwhile, lags far behind her council colleague. Cutter raised $10,683, while spending $7,260, for a total cash reserve of $23,867.

Among notable contributions was $1,500 from the San Leandro Police Officer Association—a historically pivotal constituency for any candidate in San Leandro.

Apathy among San Leandrans for running for office in recent years appears to be including fundraising. Paltry fundraising numbers were reported by all three incumbent councilmembers, in addition, to their likely opponents.

District 3 Councilmember Lee Thomas reported $12,933 in contributions, spending $6,024, with cash reserves of $15,060. Thomas received donations from the International Association Fire Fighters Local 55 ($1,000); IBEW Local 595 ($500); and the San Leandro Police Officers Association ($250). He also received $2,500 from the Rental Housing Association of Southern Alameda County, a group that advocates for property owners.

Thomas’s opponent, San Leandro school board member Victor Aguilar, Jr., did not raise any money over the first six months of the year, but reported $1,405 cash on hand with $1,000 in debts.

District 1 Councilmember Deborah Cox and her opponent Ken Pon both posted disappointing fundraising numbers. Cox raised $9,023 through June 30, with $2,002 in spending, and $13,496 cash in the bank.

 

Pon, who lost to Cox in 2014, received $4,699 in contributions, spent $2,717, and reported $6,981 in cash. However, Pon also loaned his campaign $5,000.

District 5 Councilmember Corina Lopez raised $13,100 through the mid-year, while spending just $670. Her $13,432 in cash reserves also include $11,700 in previous loans. No other candidates in District 5 filed a fundraising report. However, in the past week two potential challengers pulled papers to challenge her re-election. The filing period end Aug. 10.

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