Campaign filings show incumbent mayor leads in donations

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With the local election less than a month away, Berkeley mayoral candidates have been diligently amassing donations for their respective campaigns.

Campaign filings up to the end of September of the listed donations for mayoral candidates show that incumbent Mayor Tom Bates has a lead of about $38,000 over his closest opponent, City Councilmember Kriss Worthington. Moreover, working professionals continue to be the largest donating bloc, followed by retirees, while UC Berkeley staff and city employees donate minimal amounts.

Four of the six candidates — Bates, Jacquelyn McCormick, Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi and Worthington — have their filings listed on the city of Berkeley’s website. Bernt Wahl and Zachary RunningWolf were not included in the data due to a lack of filings.

Bates has an overwhelming financial lead in the race, with $54,800 in itemized donations since the beginning of the year, which is more than those of all the other candidates combined. Along with his strong lead in donations, he has the largest donor base.

Worthington has raised the second most in itemized donations with approximately $17,000, followed by McCormick with $11,450 and Jacobs-Fantauzzi with $200.

“Well, the only thing I can say is that because I have been in office for a long time, I’ve developed relations with people, and I’m very fortunate to have people who support me,” Bates said. “And my wife (Loni Hancock), of course, is a state senator, so that’s helpful.”

Bates — who previously spent two decades in the California State Assembly — overwhelmingly has more donation support from political figures and their committees than any other candidate, with donations from State Senator Carol Liu and State Assemblywoman Betty Karnette.

Despite Bates’ monetary advantage, Worthington remained unfazed, saying that he is accustomed to elections in which he is outspent and out-raised.

“At the state level, I think Tom Bates was a good Assembly member,” Worthington said. “Those people are not contributing to him because he was a good mayor. They’re contributing to him because he was a good Assembly member. What he did as an Assembly member is not what he is doing as a mayor.”

Moreover, Bates has received donation support from Councilmembers Linda Maio, Gordon Wozniak and Susan Wengraf.

Based on the data, working professionals — a term used to encompass the demographic including lawyers, realtors and small business owners — play a major role in every candidate’s campaign and gave the most donations as a group. Retirees are the second-most significant source of donation funding for all candidates.

What is most noticeable, however, is the lacking role that city employees and UC Berkeley faculty and staff play in local elections. Despite UC Berkeley being an integral part of the Berkeley community, UC staff and faculty gave very little donations for the local mayoral campaign.

Only Bates and Worthington received monetary donations from UC faculty and staff, and the donations accounted for only 4.19 percent of Bates’ total monetary donations and 1.32 percent for Worthington’s.

“The UC is disconnected from the city,” said Steve Wollmer, chair of the Berkeley Fair Campaign Practices Commission. “They like the restaurants. They like the views. They like the intellectual climate on the campus. But they do not get down and dirty with the politics of Berkeley.”

City employees also play a very small financial role in local elections, factoring in at about 1 percent of monetary donations for Worthington and Bates, respectively.

Overall, the candidates combined have garnered a total of $83,449 in itemized donations.

Jaehak Yu is the lead city government reporter. Contact him at [email protected].