After primary elections, Assembly District 15 candidates reflect on campaign fundraising

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Shaun Lien/Staff

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In the election for the Assembly District 15 seat, candidates have faced the struggle of raising enough money for their campaigns in order to reach out to the optimal number of voters.

Most candidates for the Assembly District 15 primary raised about $150,000 to $250,000 to cover their campaign expenses. Front-runner Buffy Wicks, however, raised more than $650,000 in financing her campaign through the primaries.

Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb said that overall, candidates this year did not spend as much money on their campaigns as candidates in previous elections did. With more money, candidates could have hired more volunteers, who could then have contacted more voters and secured more votes for candidates.

The prices of running a campaign increased, and it became harder to reach as many voters as planned, according to Kalb.

“The price of mailing went up. The price of printing went up. The price of hiring staff went up a little bit,” Kalb said.

While Kalb indicated that spending more money can definitely increase the chances of a candidate winning the election, he emphasized that it is not the only option.

Richmond City Councilmember and Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles managed to raise about $160,000 on her campaign before the primaries, but she was still able to secure a position on the November general election ballot.

Beckles said she believes her success in the election was not due to the amount of money she spent on the campaign.

“Our campaign was outspent by other candidates (by) a factor of two or more times,” Beckles said. “Money is not the reason why campaigns are won. It is grassroots volunteers.”

Beckles also agrees that the money in a campaign is best spent on efforts to reach voters. Her largest expenditures included funding advertisements on the radio and on television and issuing statements to the public.

Berkeley Unified School District board Vice President Judy Appel raised about $280,000 in running her “very value-based campaign” and believes the amount of money a candidate raises can significantly influence an election.

“This is one of the things we learned from this campaign: It’s that with enough money, you can buy name recognition,” Appel said. “You can basically buy votes.”

According to Appel, it became very difficult for candidates to raise adequate amounts of funds for their campaigns purely because so many candidates were running.

“I was really proud to have so many people,” Appel said. “Sometimes that was $20 from a student who really believed in my campaign, and sometimes there was more money from people with more resources.”

Contact Anisa Kundu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anisa_kundu.