In most cases, when an incumbent mayor who has endured more than three years of attacks from her opponents and was forced to cleaned up some of her own unforced errors fails to report any campaign finance activity five months from her own re-election, it’s a problem. But maybe not for Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer.
This November, Spencer is facing two colleagues on the Alameda City Council, Councilmmebers Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Frank Matarrese.
Campaign finance reports released this week show Spencer’s inaction on the finance front, however, is not as severe as it could be. Ezzy Ashcraft reported raising just $17,135 through the first six months of this year. She spent just $121, and reported $17,113 in cash reserves, through June 30. Matarrese, like Spencer, did not file a campaign finance report for the period.
Spencer, meanwhile, has never been known to be much of a fundraising going back to her time on the Alameda school board. Instead, she clearly preferring one-on-one contact with voters (many times they involved hugs). The strategy has clearly worked. During Spencer’s 2014 upset of Marie Gilmore, she raised a total of $13,916 and spent just $10,325 to pull out a 200-vote victory on Election Day. Gilmore, meanwhile, raised $64,289 and spent $68,955 that year.
Further highlighting that Spencer’s lack of campaign cash this fall may not be a deciding factor is an indication the powerful Alameda Firefighters union will not be spending on the mayor’s race, despite many run-ins with Spencer in recent years. Instead, the union is still harboring strong resentment toward Ezzy Ashcraft for her support of former City Manager Jill Keimach, who parted ways with the city last spring following an explosive City Hall scandal. The union, at best, is ambivalent toward Matarrese’s campaign.
The Keimach affair also clouds the money race in the Alameda City Council race this November for two at-large seats. Councilmember Jim Oddie raised $24,045, along with a cash reserve of $11,517, through June 30. Oddie’s numbers, however, could have been greater, if not for spending $18,582, mostly on attorneys defending him against accusations made by Keimach that he and Councilmember Malia Vella violated the non-interference provision in the City Charter. The bulk of Oddie’s contributions flowed from local unions. The Construction and General Laborers Local 304 gave $5,000, and IBEW Local 1245 contributed $3,000.
Former Alameda Councilmember Stewart Chen, hoping for a return to City Hall, posted strong fundraising numbers through the mid-year. Chen reported $34,088 in contributions–the most of all candidates in Alameda–$12,201 in expenditures, and a cash reserve of $22,387, through June 30. Among his largest donors: U.S. Freight Systems, Inc. of Oakland ($3,000); Duong Family Investments, LLL ($2,000). The Duong Family owns Oakland’s California Waste Systems.
Council candidate John Knox White tapped into a wealth of small contributions from Alamedans, raising $20,641 during the semi-annual reporting period. Knox White, a former planning board member, reported $19,766 cash on hand, along $1,338 in spending.
Robert Matz reported $5,000 in cash on hand. The entire amount arrived in one lump sum from James Kim, the owner of Sushi House.
Like Spencer and Matarrese, former Councilmember Tony Daysog did not file a campaign finance report.
The Alameda rent stabilization charter amendment initiative is expected to be featured heavily in this fall’s campaign. The landlords group that put the initiative on the ballot, Alamedans in Charge, reported raising $54,706 in contributions for the six-month period, while spending $51,907. The group maintains $10,554, through June 30, along with $8,369 in debts.
The Alameda Renters Coalition, which has battled local landlords for more than three years, opposes the measure. Through June 30, the group raised $5,801, while spending $1,223, for a cash reserve of $8,326. Their main contribution was $5,500 from Filipino Advocates for Justice.
Alameda firefighters, meanwhile, raised $21,631 in dues from their union membership during the last six months, according to finance reports, while spending $17,911. The union reports $33,872 in the bank.