Candidates rake in cash for Assembly race

Cupertino mayor Barry Chang overtakes Palo Alto Councilman Marc Berman in campaign contributions

This is the corrected version of a story that was posted earlier today, which neglected to cover Barry Chang's contributions. Palo Alto Online regrets the error.

With the race to succeed Assemblyman Rich Gordon in Sacramento heating up, Cupertino Mayor Barry Chang has raised more than $330,000 for his campaign, overtaking Palo Alto Councilman Marc Berman and Mountain View Councilman Mike Kasperzak, according to documents filed earlier this week with the California Secretary of State.

The campaign filings show Chang receiving $336,708 in contributions between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2015. With only $473 in expenditures, Chang ended the year with $336,236 in his campaign chest.

The campaign filings show the Berman campaign ending 2015 with $259,800 in cash. Two other candidates, patent attorney Vicki Veenker and Mountain View Councilman Mike Kasperzak, had $192,240 and $140,540, respectively.

All four are are looking to replace the termed-out Gordon in the 24th Assembly District, which includes large portions of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, including the cities of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Atherton, Menlo Park, Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

The latest campaign filings indicate Berman receiving $92,353 in contributions in the latest reporting period, which stretches from July 1 to Dec. 31. Kasperzak received $60,917 over the same period.

According to the campaign finance statements, four candidates have made significant loans to their campaigns in the closing days of 2015. Veenker loaned $75,000 to her campaign; Kasperzak loaned $70,000 to his; while Berman loaned himself $25,000. Chang loaned $20,000 from his 2014 campaign to his current one, and his wife and fellow Cupertino real estate agent, Sue Chang, also loaned him the same amount.

Menlo Park Councilman Peter Ohtaki and Palo Alto resident Seelam Reddy have also declared their intentions to seek the Assembly seat, though neither has filed a campaign statement electronically.

According to the documents, Chang, Berman, Veenker and Kasperzak have all benefited from sizable contributions from attorneys, business leaders, academics and, in Kasperzak's case, developers. Berman's list of contributors includes Jed York, CEO of the Forty Niners, who contributed $1,000 to the campaign. Family connections also appeared to have helped, including $4,200 contributions from Sam Berman, Lucy Berman, Robert Berman and Joel Berman. Another $3,000 from Burlingame attorney Joseph Cotchett. Local realtor Michael Dreyfus and architect Daniel Garber each contributed $1,000 to Berman's campaign.

Chang, meanwhile, is leading the pack in giant checks. In addition to the dozens of small donations from residents in the southern part of Santa Clara County, Chang received $8,000 from Cupertino investor Peter Huang, another $8,000 from Los Altos resident Suzan Grisanti and $8,400 checks from Cupertino realtor Coco Tan, San Jose investor Caixing Xie, Sunnyvale investor Yu L; and Cupertino residents Gouhua Xiong and Yibin Wen. Several corporations have also made $8,400 contributions to Chang's campaign, including Golden Fremont Inc.; I Life Inc.; Everest Inc.; and an entity called MS 85 LLC.

Veenker's major contributions include $4,200 from entrepreneur Asher Waldfogel, who serves on Palo Alto's Planning and Transportation Commission; Palo Alto resident Helyn Maclean (who also contributed $4,200); $2,000 from VMWare attorney Craig Norris; $1,000 from Palo Alto attorney Karen Boyd; and $1,000 from Stephen Hibbard, an attorney with the firm Shearman & Sterling LLP.

Kasperzak received $1,000 contributions from developers John McNellis, Steve Dostart and William Thormahlen, while real estate magnate and long-time Democratic donor George Marcus contributed $2,500. Kasperzak also received $500 contributions from developers Justin Mozart and John Forrest and $1,000 from John Melton, a former member of Palo Alto's Utilities Advisory Commission.

While Chang's campaign ended the year with most cash, Berman is benefiting from several high-profile endorsements. Last year, Gordon endorsed Berman for the seat. In late January, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom did the same, saying Berman represents "the next generation of progressive leadership in California."

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46 people like this
Posted by Voted 4 in the past, Not a Fan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2016 at 10:11 am

Since when was developer-centric and talking a good but empty game "progressive"?

44 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 4, 2016 at 11:09 am

[Post removed.]

22 people like this
Posted by Young Democrat
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 4, 2016 at 11:30 am

It's nice to see an up-and-coming progressive leader like Berman as the frontrunner in this race. This district would benefit from a new generation of leadership that grew up here and understands our history but also the challenges we face as a result of the tremendous economic growth in the region. I've been impressed by Berman's thoughtful approach on the City Council and think he would be a great addition to the Assembly.

33 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2016 at 11:38 am

I hope the other contenders have more to offer.

23 people like this
Posted by Winter
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2016 at 12:13 pm

What about Barry Chang? I just read yesterday that he was the top fundraiser, not Berman. $336,709 to $287,776 respectively. Chang is not even mentioned here. Is a correction warrented?

32 people like this
Posted by SmartVoter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 4, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Consider voting for the candidate who raises the least money from developers.

Like this comment
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 4, 2016 at 12:51 pm

A correction is warranted. Chang is in District 28.

24 people like this
Posted by Ahemmmmm
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2016 at 1:20 pm

According to the San Jose, Berman has raised the second largest amount of money.

23 people like this
Posted by Facts, please
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 4, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Poorly written article. Barry Chang is also running for the 24th. Real local newspapers have reported he leads in fundraising. But writing about Berman will generate more discussion on TSF. Once again gennady had failed to properly fact check his article.

11 people like this
Posted by Traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Berman's thoughtful, and he looks at the data before making up his mind. He had the best plan to fight traffic in the downtown, but the Council went with Burt's plan instead.

11 people like this
Posted by excited for Berman
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 4, 2016 at 2:00 pm

I'm very excited to see Marc moving forward with his career and going for the state level. He's been a great champion for getting real infrastructure improvements in Palo Alto and a big supporter of getting us more public transportation so we can all experience less traffic on the roads. He has his principles and he sticks to them and you see that in every vote. No flip-flopping or deal brokering here - he is exactly who he says he is.

9 people like this
Posted by gsheyner
a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2016 at 2:35 pm


You are correct. I neglected to cover the Chang campaign in the earlier story.

A correction is certainly warranted. Sorry for the error.


30 people like this
Posted by Big Development support
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 4, 2016 at 2:59 pm

>$4,200 contributions from Sam Berman, Lucy Berman, Robert Berman and Joel Berman. Lucy Berman is a well-known realtor at Dreyfus Sotheby’s International Realty.

Yesterday's Daily Post listed donations from downtown developer Roxy Rapp, and local council members Cory Wolbach, Greg Scharff, Liz Kniss, and former Council member Nancy Shepherd.

What else do you need to know? The advocates of big-development are strongly behind him.

12 people like this
Posted by We all need Marc!
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 4, 2016 at 3:05 pm

I'm thrilled to see Marc doing so well and moving forward with momentum. He is a savvy, financially aware, forward-thinking guy who is focused on our major issues of housing affordability, smart-transportation, infrastructure improvement and budget health. Can't wait to cast my vote!

13 people like this
Posted by Go Marc!
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 4, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Marc has consistently been a progressive, hard-working, thoughtful voice on the Council. I am personally a little torn to see him seek higher office, because he is needed in Palo Alto. However, he will be a forceful advocate at the state level as well.

11 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto 30 Something Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 4, 2016 at 4:07 pm

I'm so grateful Berman is on our city council. If It weren't for him and Wolbach, I'm not sure we'd have much if any integrity on our council. The "residentialists" are literally full of it. Although I'd hate to see him go, he's too good for this city's council.

32 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Marc is an empty suit. A nice guy who has spent years on the council leaving nary a mark. Why would anyone think his thin record qualifies him to now get paid to be mediocre? We deserve better. He is not a leader and lacks ideas and vision. Clearly he spends little time ever doing his homework before council meetings - perhaps this is why he can't lead? He grips about how much time he is required to be at city council meetings. Marc - I like you but I will not vote for you. You should find a passion in life - but it's clearly not as a professional politician.

18 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2016 at 11:15 pm

I won't support Marc Berman; he's always been against the residents - like his stand on Measure D. and since he's decided to run for state legislature, his votes on the Palo Alto City Council will be influenced by donations to his state legislature campaign. Plus he hasn't accomplished anything on the council. Based on his voting record, he won't support Palo Alto on issues like High Speed Rail, or ABAG.

I won't support Mike Kaspernek either. He supported the BRT proposal, where VTA proposes to take 2 of 6 lanes on El Camino Real to use solely for Buses, which will cause not only more congestion on El Camino Real, but also on the side streets as drivers try to find less congested routes.

Don't know enough about Barry Chang or Vicky Veenker, but will decide between those two candidates.

13 people like this
Posted by Holly
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 5, 2016 at 5:58 am

Great to know who is getting money and from whom. Candidates can lie about their positions on issues. But candidates with revords should have a hard time hiding those records if the press is on the ball. It is time for some investigate reporting on candidates for high office such as Stste Assembly. Who are these candidates - really? And why are they running - really? The winner of this race will be unopposed in later elections and "serve" three 2-year terms - and then run for even higher office. Remember State Senator Leland Yee? The corrupt can rise quickly when the press does not do its job.

Like this comment
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 14, 2016 at 2:05 am

[Post removed.]

5 people like this
Posted by Chang?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2016 at 8:55 am

Chang can't get his facts straight either..... Keeps changing his story, according to the Merc, about what all districts he is running for. He THINKS he is running for Palo Alto, he MAY be running for a small section of it included in his district.

He may be withdrawing, also. Seems he has not reported large amounts of money donated to him in this plus his last two elections, and is now in deep trouble.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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