The two incumbents in Palo Alto's crowded race for City Council seats are leading the 10-candidate field in campaign contributions, while six of their challengers have received more than $20,000 in donations, new campaign finance disclosures show.
The disclosures, which cover contributions up until Sept. 24, show Councilman Greg Tanaka with a strong lead in campaign cash, with $83,250 in contributions. A large portion of the funding is from local developers, with Roxy Rapp contributing $10,000 and developers Charles Keenan, John McNellis, Brad Ehikian and John Shenk contributing $5,000 each. The California Real Estate Political Action Committee contributed $2,500.
Tanaka also received dozens of smaller donations from residents, business professionals and local activists. Jeanne Fleming, whose group United Neighbors has lobbied for greater restrictions on wireless equipment, donated $1,000 to Tanaka's campaign, as had resident William Reller. Former Mayor Larry Klein chipped in $500, and Richard Hackmann, whose firm, Lighthouse Public Affairs, which worked to secure the conversion of President Hotel from an apartment building to a hotel, donated $200.
Councilwoman Lydia Kou reported $50,628 in contributions, most of them consisting of smaller donations from city residents. Her top donors include resident Gregory Welch, who contributed $2,500 and her council colleague Eric Filseth, who contributed $1,000. Residents Jean Wren while Deborah Wexler gave $1,300 and $1,000 to Kou's campaign, respectively.
Kou also received $950 contributions from Asher Waldfogel and Helen MacLean, as well as $900 contributions from Thomas and Gabrielle Layton each donated $900. The four donors made identical donations to the council campaigns of Ed Lauing, Pat Burt and Greer Stone.
Most of her other donors contributed between $100 and $300, campaign finance documents show.
Of the eight challengers, attorney Steven Lee and Planning and Transportation Commission Chair Cari Templeton received the most contributions. Lee's report, which covers the period that ends on Sept. 19, shows him receiving $43,600. Since that date, he said he received additional funding and reached his self-imposed limit of $45,000, at which point he stopped accepting donations. Templeton reported $40,109 in contributions.
Lee's campaign had also set a limit of $1,000 for individual contributions. It received this maximum amount from 15 contributors, including local residents, attorneys and tech professionals from companies such as Facebook, Google and Tibco Software. The list of donors who gave the maximum amounts includes resident Satomi Okazaki, George Chiao, Ainah Lee, Helen Young and James Hindery, Lee's campaign manager. Lee had also contributed $1,025 to his own campaign.
Templeton's campaign benefitted from dozens of smaller contributions from local residents, as well as a $10,999 loan from Templeton herself. Her contributors include engineers, attorneys and housing advocates. Resident Charles Cheever contributed $999 and attorney Owen Byrd contributed $500. Klein, a former mayor, also contributed $500, while housing advocates John Kelley and Kelsey Banes contributed $500 and $300, respectively. Mayor Adrian Fine contributed $250 to Templeton's campaign.
Campaign documents show that former Mayor Pat Burt had raised $32,574 as of Sept. 19. However, he had since submitted an additional filing disclosing a $5,000 contribution that was made on Sept. 23 by G. Leonard Baker, a venture capitalist from Sutter Hill Ventures, raising his current total to $37,574.
Planning and Transportation Commission member Ed Lauing raised $30,000 as of Sept. 19, the reports show. Engineer Raven Malone and teacher Greer Stone raised $26,496 and $25,864, respectively.
Burt's campaign received support from dozens of business professionals, neighborhood activists and residents. Aside from Baker, his top donors including Darrell Benatar, executive chairman at User Testing, and residents Deborah Wexler and Simone Coxe, each of whom contributed $1,000.
Burt's campaign also received $750 from Nadia Naik, chair of the citizens group that is working on rail improvements, $500 from Jeanne Fleming and $500 from Doria Summa, a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission. School board member Ken Dauber contributed $300, while Vice Mayor Tom DuBois gave $200.
Ed Lauing's campaign received $2,020 from Simone Coxe and $1,000 from Councilman Filseth and resident William Reller. Lauing's donor base includes many residents associated with Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, a group that supports slow-growth policies, including the group's co-founder Joe Hirsch ($750) and Suzanne Keehn ($500).
His base also includes his current and past colleagues on the Parks and Recreation and Planning and Transportation commissions, with Summa contributing $500 and Jeff Greenfield, chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, contributing $99. Councilwoman Alison Cormack supported Lauing's campaign with a $500 contribution, while downtown resident Neilson Buchanan donated $750 to his campaign.
Many of the donors who supported Lauing also donated to Stone, who has also been endorsed by Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning. Stone received $1,300 from Buchanan and $300 from Keehn. Former Mayor Karen Holman contributed $900 to Stone, while resident Dudley Anderson, a financial adviser, donated $1,250.
Stone also received $1,000 from Deborah Wexler, $250 from Filseth, $200 from DuBois and $100 from former councilman and conservationist Enid Pearson.
Malone, a system engineer at Perspecta, received more funding from the technology and science sectors.
Her top donor is Charles Cheever, CEO of 650 Industries, who contributed $2,500. Michael Anderson, an engineer at Applied Materials, contributed $1,500 to her campaign; Reginald Williams, a systems administrator at United States Geological Survey, contributed $1,050; and Leah Cowen, a government relations manager at Sutter Health, donated $1,025. Nadia Ahlborg, an engineer at Lam Research, contributed $1,000, as had local resident Carolyn Blatman.
Malone also received $500 from Brian Chancellor, realtor at Sereno Group; $250 from Kelley, co-founder of OnRisk, Inc; and $200 from Michael Alcheck, a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission. Former Councilman Cory Wolbach and retired Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell, a former councilwoman, each contributed $100 to Malone.
Attorney Rebecca Eisenberg raised $15,482, while Ajit Varma, who works at WhatsApp, has opted not to accept contributions to his campaign.
Eisenberg's contributors include scientists, business people, software engineers and investors, both from Palo Alto and from elsewhere, and most of her contributions are well below $1,000. Local residents Ashish Gupta and Nita Goyal, contributed $500, while resident Vineet Gupta contributed $560. Mark Weiss, a concert promoter and former council candidate, contributed $410, while Aram James, a longtime advocate for police reform, contributed $200.
Eisenberg's top donor is James Ausman, a technical project manager at Twilio, who contributed $1,500.
The 10 candidates are vying for four open seats on the seven-member council. Kou and Tanaka are each second fresh terms. Mayor Adrian Fine has opted not to run again, while Councilwoman Liz Kniss is terming out at the end of this year.