Berkeley mayoral race contributions show Laurie Capitelli in lead

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According to recently released campaign financial statements, Berkeley mayoral candidate and current City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli raised $67,135 during the first six months of 2016 — significantly more than the amount raised during that span by fellow candidate and City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin.

From Jan. 1 to June 30 of this year, Arreguin’s campaign amassed $24,858, slightly less than the $25,007 in donations he received from the time he announced his candidacy in October 2015 to the end of that calendar year. Capitelli — who filed to run for mayor shortly after Arreguin in November — had raised just $6,380 by the end of 2015, though he only began fundraising for his campaign during the final weeks of that year.

Capitelli has since surpassed Arreguin in financial support with donations from a range of contributors, including architects, engineers and fellow City Councilmembers Lori Droste, Susan Wengraf, Linda Maio and Darryl Moore — who each gave the maximum donation of $250. Mayor Tom Bates, who has said he will not run for re-election after serving as the mayor of Berkeley since 2002, also contributed $250 to the Capitelli campaign.

“My focus is not to pontificate or proselytize, it’s to get things done,” Capitelli said, adding that his “pragmatic” approach to governing has earned him the respect of his constituency.

Capitelli has drawn criticism from his opponents for his stances on housing and business in general, and Arreguin said he was surprised there was not a larger disparity between the funds he and Capitelli have received, given the support he said Capitelli garners from developers. Arreguin said his campaign was focused on a more grassroots movement, but he noted that such a strategy carries with it some potential financial hurdles.

“Taking strong, principled stances doesn’t make you the most popular candidate, especially among moneyed interests,” Arreguin said of his own campaign. “But even though money is important, at the end of the day it’s about the impressions you make with voters.”

Capitelli noted that the development community has accounted for slightly less than 30 percent of his financial backing and said the idea that his support was entirely from developers was “misleading.” He added that these developers “play an important role” in creating housing for the city.

According to his financial statements, some of Arreguin’s monetary support has come from those who oppose the construction of an 18-story apartment complex at 2211 Harold Way, including Kelly Hammargren, who filed a lawsuit against the project. Isabelle Gaston, a candidate for the District 6 council seat, and Patricia Wall, the executive director of the Homeless Action Center in Alameda County, also donated to Arreguin’s campaign.

Another City Council member, Kriss Worthington, filed for mayor last month as part of a coalition with Arreguin and encouraged his constituents to vote for himself and Arreguin in their desired order. Under the city’s ranked choice voting system, the votes of the candidate with the lowest percentage of first-place votes are transferred to those voters’ second choice until a single candidate wins a majority of votes — a system that allows for such coalitions to be feasible.

Because he announced his candidacy after the first six months of 2016, Worthington did not file a financial disclosure statement, though he said he was confident he would be able to raise significant funds by the election. He added that he had important policy disagreements with several other mayoral candidates, in particular with Capitelli, who Worthington said opposed him in City Council on several housing issues.

“My (political) difference with Capitelli is the most drastic,” Worthington said. “He is the one who tried to stop us from housing people with low and very low incomes.”

Ben Gould, a campus graduate student who filed to run for mayor in March, raised $6,350 for his campaign by June 30, while homeless candidate Guy “Mike” Lee had raised $400 by that date. The other mayoral candidates — Stephen Filgo, Zachary RunningWolf, Bernt Wahl and Naomi Pete — did not file financial statements.

Logan Goldberg is the executive news editor. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @logangoldberg.