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Council Challengers Narrow Traditional Fundraising Gap

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica

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By Jorge Casuso

September 24, 2020 -- If early fundraising is any indication, the race for four full-term seats on the Santa Monica City Council could be a close one, with a slate of challengers giving incumbents a race for the money.

The four incumbents have raised a combined total of $65,236, while the four challengers on the Santa Monicans for Change slate have countered with $55,338, according to campaign finance statements submitted Thursday.

The filing period covers July 1 through September 19.

Councilmember Ted Winterer is leading the fundraising race with $25,358 in contributions, including $500 in the form of a loan. He has spent $9,267.

School Board member Oscar de la Torre, a member of the slate of challengers, is second with $20,635 in contributions, including a $10,000 loan. He has spent $11,430.

Councilmember Gleam Davis is second in fundraising among incumbents with $19,559 in contributions, including a $5,000 loan. She has spent

Running a close third among incumbents is Terry O'Day, who has raised $18,619 in contributions and spent $3,664.

Planning Commissioner Mario Fonda-Bonardi, a member of the Santa Monicans for Change slate, raised $15,783, including a $10,000 loan and has spent no money.

Among the challengers on the slate, Arts Commissioner Phil Brock has raised $14,425 and spent $6,716, while Christine Parra has raised $4,495 and spent $1,671.

Councilmember Ana Jara, who is running her first race for reelection after being appointed to the Council in January 2019, has raised $1,700. Her campaign has spent $3,048, leaving a debt of $1,950.

Counailmember Kristin McCowan, who is running uncontested in the race for a two-year Council seat has raised $13,806, including a $5,000 loan, and spent $3,147.

McCowan was appointed in July to fill the vacancy left by Councilmember Grag Morena, who resigned due to a business conflict.

Despite the economic tailspin triggered by the coronavirus shutdown, Council candidates have raised more money so far this year than they did during the same period in 2016.

This year's combined total raised among incumbents is nearly $9,000 less than the $74,056 raised during the same period in 2016.

Meanwhile, challengers are far outpacing their fundraising efforts of four years ago.

In 2016 slow-growth activist Armen Melkonians was the only challenger to report contributions during the filing period ending September 24.

He received $3,700 from donors and added $5,000 of his own money for a total of $8,700, compared to the more than $55,000 raised by challengers this year.

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