Saturday, October 25, 2008

Raising cash difficult this year for Antioch, Brentwood candidates

The economic downturn has spread far and wide — and local political races have not gone unaffected. Candidates for local offices in Antioch and Brentwood say financial woes have meant a tougher time raising cap ital this campaign season.

Campaign finance disclosure forms filed Thursday by Antioch's candidates show contributions are down significantly this year for all but one incumbent candidate compared with their races in 2004.

The disclosures show contributions received this calendar year through Oct. 18:

Antioch incumbent Mayor Donald Freitas declared $27,488 in contributions this year, compared with the $44,841 he had raised by mid-October during his 2004 campaign. Mayoral challenger Jim Davis declared $11,396 in contributions this year, compared with $13,600 by this point in 2004, when he also challenged Freitas.

Council candidate Arne Simonsen has raised $16,736 this year, compared with $30,613 by mid-October in 2004.

Simonsen said he expected to make up the difference before Election Day but hasn't pressed supporters because of the lean economy. He said he hasn't held the kinds of fundraising events this year that he has in the past, instead relying on phone banks and lawn signs.

"I think it's tough, and I really hate asking folks for money in times like this," Simonsen said.

City Council candidate Brian Kalinowski had raised $23,728 this year through Oct. 18 — considerably more than Advertisementthe $11,681 he had raised through Oct. 16, 2004. He attributed this increase to having started fundraising earlier this time around, adding his 2004 campaign wasn't as aggressive.

Kalinowski said the current economy has affected donations from individual residents, although he has still seen support from the businesses that have backed him in the past.

"It's been more difficult and it's been harder on individuals, and I recognize that," Kalinowski said.

Earlier this month, Antioch's incumbent candidates had all said donations were down and had come in more slowly this election cycle compared with previous campaigns.

"Donors will basically say that they would love to be able to contribute or contribute more but due to the economic circumstances "... they just are unable to do so," Freitas said.

There could be a number of reasons for the trend in this city that has been walloped by the foreclosure crisis, candidates said. In addition to the general economic malaise, residents may be suffering from political burnout in light of a presidential campaign that began nearly two years ago, Freitas said.

"People have just had enough, and they're not engaging," he said.

Brentwood also strapped

Brentwood's candidates told the same story.

City Council candidate Bob Brockman financed much of his previous campaign himself — he said he put in about $11,000 of his own money in the 2005 special election, where he won his council seat. This year, however, he can't afford to, and is counting on the $2,500 he has raised from donors — and his record — to win reelection.

"I'm relying on the fact that I've been doing a great job," Brockman said. "People talk to me, and I'm willing to answer their questions straight forward. So I'm relying on my past record and past performance"

Incumbent Mayor Bob Taylor, who has raised $24,430 this year through Oct. 18, said he's had more people express their support than are able to reach into their wallets.

"The sums are down, too," Taylor said. "There are some that we've requested that said they support you, but not financially."

City Council candidate Roger Short, who lost his 2006 bid for a council seat, said he hasn't had to raise much money this year because he can reuse his old signs, which are often the most expensive part of a campaign. He said he has lent himself $500, and as of Sept. 30 had raised an additional $1,069. He did not disclose any contributions for the period ending Oct. 18.

"Right now, it's harder because no one pretty much has any money," Short said.

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