Monday, November 3, 2008

Mitchoff leads Pleasant Hill council race in dollars, key endorsements

PLEASANT HILL — Karen Mitchoff has emerged as the "establishment" candidate among the challengers in the Pleasant Hill council race, collecting campaign contributions and endorsements from labor unions and other local politicians — including the two incumbents in the race.

Mitchoff, a Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park district board member with strong political ties in the county, has raised more than $11,000 for her campaign, easily outpacing the two other challengers, according to campaign statements filed with the city clerk.

Bruce Weissenberger and Keith Hunt reported raising $1,449 and $590, respectively.

Mitchoff also raised more than Mayor John Hanecak, who reported $4,436 in cash donations, and Councilman David Durant, who took in $6,953. Both endorsed Mitchoff, as did Councilman Michael Harris.

The five candidates are competing for three seats, including the seat left open when Sue Angeli declined to run.

Mitchoff said her union support, including $1,000 from the Sacramento-based political action committee of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, is a result of the endorsement from the Central Labor Council of Contra Costa County and her outreach to other local unions.

The contributions were not tied to her past job as chief of staff for former Contra Costa County supervisors Sunne McPeak and Mark DeSaulnier, neither of whom contributed to her campaign, she Advertisementadded.

Mitchoff has received donations from individuals and firms tied to developers, including $500 from Concord law firm Andersen & Bonnifield. McPeak's husband, John McPeak, also gave Mitchoff $500.

"I'm getting (contributions) because I worked hard for them as a City Council candidate," said Mitchoff, an administrative analyst for the Contra Costa County Human Services Department. "I have broad based support in the community and that's what my campaign donations reflect."

Weissenberger, who has run for the council twice before, said Mitchoff will be a "rubber stamp" for what he sees as plans to overdevelop Pleasant Hill. Describing himself as a "citizen candidate," he said he accepts campaign cash only from interests in the city.

"You have to wonder who (the candidates) are serving since they have so much money from sources outside the city," Weissenberger said.

Hanecak, elected in 2004, said Mitchoff's experience as an elected official and willingness to work hard sets her apart from the other candidates.

"Being an employee of the county and knowing more of the inner workings and having access that otherwise wouldn't be available would really be an addition," he said, particularly as the city continues working with the county flood control district on building a detention basin.

Durant praised Mitchoff's experience working with budgets and her relationships with county agency leaders.

"She was the person who could step in and be ready to lead most quickly and ready to lead in a cooperative spirit with the rest of the council and the city's' management staff," said Durant, who has been on the council since 1999.

With only days to go before the election, and with general agreement among the candidates the city should focus on economic development and flood control, the candidates each want voters to focus on the unique attributes they would bring to the council.

Durant touted his history of keeping his word and commitment to effectively managing the city's financial and human resources. Hanecak said he will listen with an open mind and follow through with city staff. Hunt said he would approach issues with honesty, sincerity and humor. Mitchoff said her public service experience and previous work with elected officials gives her an edge. Weissenberger says he is the only challenger who has been working on growth and flood control issues with the council for eight years.

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