SLO County supervisor district race donations reach 6 figures

Ranchers, farmers and contractors are spending tens of thousands of dollars to help Debbie Arnold replace incumbent county Supervisor Jim Patterson in what has already become another six-figure battle for the 5th District supervisor seat.

It is the second time Arnold and Patterson have squared off. Patterson captured a squeaker of an election in 2008, winning by 349 votes.

Many residents in other professions, including retirees, also are among the roughly 160 donors to Arnold’s campaign, which totals $54,317 in contributions. But the ranch and farm community, led by the Cattlemen’s Association donation of $10,000, leads the financial pack. Patterson has raised more than $57,000 in 130 donations, the bulk of them from sources who run the gamut from retirees to attorneys to landscapers. His largest single contributor is Bonnie Miner of Miner’s Hardware, with $2,000.

Between them, Arnold and Patterson already have passed $110,000 in donations for an election that will not take place until June 5. In 2008, Arnold raised $265,919 to Patterson’s $158,660.

In the other two supervisor races, 1st District incumbent Frank Mecham, who is unopposed, has raised $1,675.

In the 3rd District, incumbent Adam Hill is far outpacing his challenger, Pismo Beach City Councilman Ed Waage, in money raised and number of contributors. Hill has collected $78,202 in 130 contributions, of which $4,300 is a loan to himself. Waage has raised $14,619, with fewer than a dozen contributors. Of that, $7,500 is in the form of loans to himself.

The numbers became available Tuesday at the county Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

Donors listed

The financial disclosure forms for 2011 also show who is contributing to which candidate.

Except for the uncontested Mecham, all the candidates have raised money from retirees.

Some of Hill’s better-known donors are developers John King and Rob Rossi, and political figures including San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, San Luis Obispo Councilman John Ashbaugh and Democratic state Senate candidate Bill Monning. Hill also had donations from homemakers, attorneys, vintners, businessmen and others.

Former Pismo Beach Mayor Mary Ann Reiss contributed to Waage’s campaign, as did Smith Held, a North County avocado grower who was prominent in a property rights group popularly known as POPR — Protect Our Property Rights.

Money not that critical

Money does not always determine the outcome of an election. A Tribune analysis of the supervisory campaigns in 2008 showed that the candidates who spent the least money per vote won in the three races.

In the 3rd District — the race with the most fundraising — winner Hill spent $31.51 a vote to incumbent Jerry Lenthall’s $52.64. Hill defeated Lenthall by 1,700 votes.

Similarly, Patterson spent about $27.55 a vote to challenger Arnold’s $48.61. And in the 1st District, successful challenger Mecham spent an estimated $18.98 per vote to then-Supervisor Harry Ovitt’s $33.09.