With each raising more than $100,000 in 2015, incumbent San Luis Obispo County Supervisors Adam Hill and Debbie Arnold have amassed far more money than any other candidates running for three seats on the county Board of Supervisors.
Hill faces two challengers for the 3rd District seat in the June 7 primary: former Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson and San Luis Obispo City Councilman Dan Carpenter.
Arnold has one challenger for the 5th District seat in the North County: organic farmer Eric Michielssen.
If no other candidates come on the scene, the 5th District race will probably be decided June 7. Candidates in the primary must capture more than 50 percent of the vote or the top two vote-getters face off in the November general election.
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In the 1st District, four candidates are facing off to replace Supervisor Frank Mecham, who announced about a year ago that he would not run for re-election. The candidates are political consultant John Peschong, Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, Paso Robles City Councilman John Hamon and Paso Robles attorney Dale Gustin, whose license to practice law has been suspended for misconduct.
The races are far from set, however, because the nomination period for candidates does not open until Feb. 15. (It will then close March 11.)
Campaign finance forms due Monday show that most candidates, except Hill and Arnold, raised only modest amounts of money during 2015. Still, there’s a long way to go until voters have their say. It’s possible that candidates could try for a repeat of 2014, when a record $750,000 was spent in the 4th District battle between incumbent Caren Ray and ultimate victor Lynn Compton.
Here’s a snapshot from the most recent campaign financial statements:
County supervisor District 1
In the field of candidates vying to succeed retiring Mecham, political consultant Peschong of Templeton raised the most money in 2015.
Peschong raised a total of $28,312 and accrued expenses of $10,451. He had a cash balance of $26,787 on Dec. 31. His largest donor was a political campaign called Aguiar for Assessor 2022 of Irvine, which gave $3,500. He also received contributions of $2,500 from V&H Holding LLC of San Simeon and the campaign Cole for Congress of Norman, Okla.
Martin, the Paso Robles mayor, raised $19,761 and spent $2,525, leaving him with $17,236. His campaign’s largest contributions were three donations of $2,000, which came from San Luis Obispo attorney Don Ernst, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 639 of San Luis Obispo, and the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 403 of San Luis Obispo.
Hamon, the Paso Robles city councilman, raised $7,171 and spent $4,029, leaving him with a cash balance of $3,141 on Dec. 31. His biggest donor was Paso Robles retiree Elizabeth Triol who gave $500.
Gustin, the Paso Robles attorney whose license to practice law has been suspended for misconduct, has raised no money.
County supervisor District 3
In his bid to protect the seat he has held since 2009, incumbent Hill has amassed three to four times as much money for his campaign as his two challengers, Carpenter and Peterson.
Coming into 2015 with $26,350 in the bank, Hill raised $131,385 in cash and noncash contributions and spent $32,042, leaving him with $125,693 on Dec. 31. His nonmonetary donations included $2,491.72 from himself for Facebook ads.
Hill’s biggest contributions in 2015 were $7,950 in cash and nonmonetary donations from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Chapter 639 Political Action Committee; $7,784 in cash and nonmonetary donations from developer Gary Grossman; $6,000 from Phoenix-based developer Bradley Wilde; $5,000 from Pismo Beach Realtor Jason Blankenship; $4,000 from Somera Capital Management LLC in Santa Barbara; $3,000 from San Luis Obispo attorney Don Ernst; and $2,299 from the county Democratic Central Committee.
Peterson began 2015 with no campaign funds and raised $48,165.97 by Dec. 31, including $11,213 in loans from herself to the campaign. She accrued expenses of $43,100.42, and had a balance of $10,067.86 at the end of the year.
Her top donors were Century Properties, which contributed $8,225; nonmonetary donations totaling $3,990 from her company, Peterson Team Realty; $1,500 from banker Steve Peterson in Fresno; $1,100 from Arroyo Grande real estate broker Dennis Allan; and $1,000 from the California Real Estate PAC.
Carpenter raised the least among the District 3 contenders. According to his filing, he began 2015 with no campaign funds and raised $28,153, loaning his campaign $3,000. He spent $23,023.80, ending the year with a cash balance of $5,129.20 on Dec. 31.
His top contributions were $1,000 from Founders Community Bank CEO Tom Sherman; $1,000 from Ken Porche Sr. of San Luis Obispo; $1,000 from retirees Rob and Peaches Olson of San Luis Obispo; and $1,000 from Gary and Suzanne Christensen of Morro Bay.
The district encompasses 61 percent of San Luis Obispo, as well as Avila Beach, Edna Valley, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach.
County Supervisor District 5
Arnold, the county supervisor, raised more than six times as much money as rival Michielssen in her bid to retain her seat.
During 2015, Arnold received $116,054 in campaign contributions compared to Michielssen’s $18,005. She has spent $56,488 and still has a war chest of $62,877. Michielssen spent $17,717 and has $1,509 left.
Arnold has received four monetary contributions in excess of $1,000. Mike Cole Farms of Santa Margarita donated $2,500. Gary Grossman, a Shell Beach real estate developer, also contributed $2,500. H.D. Perrett of Suey Ranch in Santa Maria donated $2,000, and The Home Builders Association of the Central Coast gave $1,500.
Michielssen’s largest donor was the labor union the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers of New York which gave $1,000. He also received five donations of $500. Those donors were organic farmer Lisen Bonnier of San Luis Obispo, Supervisor Bruce Gibson, architect Ken Haggard of Santa Margarita, construction contractor Charles Kleeman of Santa Margarita and Dr. Robert Zeszotarski of Santa Margarita.