Incumbents may have the name recognition, but challengers are more than holding their own when it comes to cash raised in Palo Alto's heated City Council race.
According to campaign statements filed Monday, council hopefuls Lydia Kou, A.C. Johnston, Cory Wolbach, Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth have all raised more than $15,000 so far this year for their council bids.
Kou, a Realtor who is affiliated with the citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning and who helped lead the effort against Measure D last year, led the way with $33,985 in cash contributions received as of Sept. 30. This includes $1,000 from Joe Hirsch, founding member of the citizens group, and Lazslo Tokes, a Barron Park resident who took part in opposing Measure D. Cheryl Lilienstein, president of the citizens group, added $200, as did William Ross, a local attorney who has frequently criticized the council's land-use decisions.
Other members of the citizens group have also received hefty contributions in recent months. Eric Filseth reported contributions of $20,268; while Tom DuBois reported $17,286 in cash received. For all three candidates affiliated with the group, the list of contributors includes the Measure D campaign leaders (Hirsch and Lilienstein), slow-growth "residentialists" (Emily Renzel contributed to DuBois and Kou)and critics of recent land-use and architectural trends (Douglas Smith and Ruth Lowy).
Johnston, an attorney whose list of endorsers includes scores of former mayors and commissioners, raised $28,260 for his campaign. His donors are largely attorneys, business professionals and veterans or the members of the city's political establishment, including Vice Mayor Liz Kniss ($500) and Councilman Larry Klein ($250).
Each of the three incumbents also raised more than $10,000 for his or her re-election bid in the campaign period ending Sept. 30. Councilman Greg Scharff raised $17,571. Coupled with a $25,000 loan he made to his campaign, he now boasts the largest campaign chest at $42,570. Scharff's list of contributors includes county Supervisor Joe Simitian ($100), state Sen. Jerry Hill ($250) and Kniss ($250).
Mayor Nancy Shepherd received $17,703 in contributions, including $250 each from Klein and Kniss. Developer Jim Baer ($250), school board President Barb Mitchell ($100) and Simitian ($100) also gave to Shepherd's campaign.
Councilwoman Karen Holman, the only incumbent who has been endorsed by Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, raised $16,032 during the same period.
Many of Holman's contributions came from the same residentialists who gave to the Filseth, DuBois and Kou campaigns. Former Councilwoman Enid Pearson ($100) and former mayors Emily Renzel ($250) and Yoriko Kishimoto ($250) also contributed to Holman's campaign, as did current Councilman Pat Burt ($250).
Cory Wolbach, a legislative aide to state Sen. Jerry Hill, also did well, raising $18,164. His contributors include former mayors Vic Ojakian, Lanie Wheeler and Sid Espinosa. Sitting council members Klein and Kniss contributed $250 each to his campaign.
Wolbach, who is affiliated with the nascent group Palo Alto Forward, has received checks from various members of the group. Eric Rosenblum ($500), Elaine Uang ($500), Steve Levy ($250) and Mehdi Alhassani ($400) all made contributions.
Candidates Mark Weiss, Seelam Reddy, John Fredrich and Wayne Douglass have not formed campaign committees and none filed a Form 460.