With more than $100,000 in the bank as of June 30, San Luis Obispo County’s 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill has amassed more money than all of the other candidates running for three supervisor seats up for election next year.
Hill — who faces two challengers in the June 7 primary election — is gearing up for a potentially heated re-election campaign against former Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson and San Luis Obispo City Councilman Dan Carpenter.
In addition, four candidates so far are vying to replace 1st District Supervisor Frank Mecham, who announced in March that he wouldn’t seek re-election next year. They are Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, Paso Robles Councilman John Hamon, San Miguel Community Services District Director Anthony Kalvans and Dale Gustin of Paso Robles.
District 5 Supervisor Debbie Arnold is also running for re-election. She might face a challenger: Tami Gunther, an Atascadero Unified School District board member, has filed paperwork allowing her to raise money but has not formally declared whether she intends to run for the seat.
The races are far from set, however, as the nomination period for candidates doesn’t open until Feb. 15 (it closes March 11).
The outcome of the supervisors’ race could have far-reaching impacts for the county’s future.
Mecham has occasionally served as a crucial swing vote on the board between liberal Supervisors Bruce Gibson and Adam Hill on one side and conservative Supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton on the other.
Campaign finance forms, due July 31, show that most of the candidates raised at least several thousand dollars from Jan. 1 through June 30 — and others have amassed far more.
Four North County residents have announced their candidacy for Mecham’s seat, although only two have raised any campaign funds. The 1st District includes Paso Robles and much of the North County.
According to county Elections Office records, Martin has raised $3,441.76 and has spent $50 of that. All of his campaign funding has come from two sources — the Committee to Elect Steve Martin Mayor of Paso Robles 2014, which contributed $2,941.76, and Jeen Alvord, a retiree of Atascadero, who donated $500.
Kalvans, a director of the San Miguel Community Services District board, has raised $7,470 and has spent $1,366.96. All of this money has come from three contributors.
Tami Kalvans, a retired accountant of Castro Valley, contributed $7,000. Constance Rose, a retiree of Arroyo Grande, contributed $100 and Anthony Kalvans donated $50 to his own campaign.
On Aug. 4, Gustin, a retired Paso Robles attorney, filed a candidate intention statement but has not begun fundraising. Gustin said he has lived in Paso Robles since 1979 and has been involved in a variety of community service organizations including the United Way and the Natural History Association in Morro Bay.
At the end of April, Paso Robles City Councilman John Hamon became the first person to declare his candidacy for the 1st District seat. According to the Clerk-Recorder’s Office, Hamon has not yet filed a candidate intention statement or any campaign finance reports.
In his bid to defend his District 3 seat — which he has held since 2009 — Hill has amassed more money than any other candidate running for a seat on the Board of Supervisors next year. The district includes 61 percent of San Luis Obispo as well as Avila Beach, Edna Valley, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach.
Peterson raised the next highest amount for the District 3 race, followed by
Pismo Beach Mayor Shelly Higginbotham (who withdrew from the race) and Carpenter.
According to his filing, Hill’s campaign has raised a total of $84,162 this year — including $1,861.60 in nonmonetary contributions — and spent $7,580.61. Because he started the year with a beginning balance of $26,350.39, as of June 30, Hill had nearly $102,932 in cash.
Hill’s top contributors include Coastal Communities Builders Inc. President Gary Grossman; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 639 chapter political action committee; and Jason Blankenship of Pismo Beach, each of who donated $5,000.
Hill also received donations from several fellow elected officials: $1,130 from Pismo Beach City Councilmember Sheila Blake, $500 from 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson, $250 from San Luis Obispo City Council-woman Carlyn Christianson, $200 from San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, $155 from San Luis Obispo City Councilmember John Ashbaugh and $100 each from Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and county Planning Commissioner Eric Meyer.
Peterson raised $20,814 in contributions this year, including a $3,000 loan from herself in May and $6,921 in nonmonetary contributions. As of June 30, her campaign had spent $16,149.51.
Peterson was the second largest contributor to her campaign, donating a total of $3,003. Her top donor was Century Properties, which has contributed $5,225 since her campaign began ($225 of that was a nonmonetary contribution of a booth at the Stone Soup Music Festival and Faire).
Carpenter raised the least of all District 3 contenders. According to his filing, Carpenter’s campaign raised $5,049 between Jan. 1 and June 30. Of that, he loaned himself $3,000. His campaign spent $4,147.94, leaving him with a $901.06 cash balance.
His top contributions were $1,000 from Founders Community Bank CEO Tom Sherman and $300 from Barasch Architects & Associates Inc. He had five donations of less than $200 from individuals.
Before withdrawing from the race so she could focus on “the big issues that are facing Pismo Beach,” Higginbotham’s campaign raised $6,051.07 in the first half of the year.
Her campaign spent $3,235. Her top contributor was Century Properties in Grover Beach, which donated $5,000. She had three individual donations of $250 or less — including $250 from fellow Pismo Beach City Councilwoman Mary Ann Reiss — and one from herself for $352.07.
Arnold, who beat former Supervisor Jim Patterson in 2012, raised $41,492 in the first half of 2015, including $1,855.28 in nonmonetary contributions. Her district includes Atascadero, California Valley, Creston, Garden Farms and Santa Margarita, as well as portions of Cal Poly, Pozo, San Luis Obispo and Templeton.
She came into the year with $1,683 and has spent $13,156 (which includes $1,176 in unpaid bills), according to her campaign finance statement. She has about $31,210 in cash on hand.
Arnold’s financial support has come from ranchers and farmers as well as a few people involved in wineries or development. The largest contribution was $10,000 from Mike Leprino, listed as an investor in Denver. The Leprino family owns Leprino Foods, described on its website as the world’s largest producer of mozzarella cheese.
Other contributions included $500 each from developer Rob Rossi and Noreen Martin, CEO of Martin Resorts; $250 from King Ventures; $1,000 from Stephen T. Hearst of the Hearst Corp.; $1,000 from Gerald Forsythe, chairman and CEO of Continental Vineyards; $500 from RBZ Vineyards (doing business as Sextant Wines); $250 from Robert Schiebelhut, owner of Tolosa Winery; $500 from Paul Viborg of Viborg Sand & Gravel Inc.; and $100 from Atascadero Councilman Brian Sturtevant.
In addition, 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton gave $1,000 toward Arnold’s campaign.
Gunther, whose term on the Atascadero school board doesn’t expire until 2018, declined to comment this past week. She filed paperwork in mid-July to allow her to raise money for a campaign, if she decides to pursue one. She did not report any contributions earlier this year.