District 7 candidate receives more funds than any other City Council hopeful

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The challenger in this year’s District 7 council race has received more monetary campaign contributions than any other City Council candidate, according to the most recent campaign disclosure documents. More than half of his contributions come from outside the city.

Sean Barry, a recent UC Berkeley graduate and former Daily Californian assistant news editor, has received more than $35,000 in monetary contributions. Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the district’s incumbent, has received about $25,000. While the bulk of both candidates’ donations comes from Berkeley residents, Barry has accumulated more than $20,000 in out-of-city money compared to the approximate $8,000 Worthington has received.

On his monetary advantage, Barry said he felt he needed more money than Worthington to get his name out to voters who may already know the incumbent.

“As a challenger, I think you have to do more,” Barry said. “The incumbent can get away with raising less.”

According to campaign finance disclosure documents, the most recent of which were filed Saturday, Barry has raised $35,927, eclipsing the nine other council hopefuls. Lori Droste, a candidate in District 8, has raised slightly less than Barry’s total at $35,345.

Barry and Worthington are vying for the seat in Berkeley’s student district, termed such after the district was redrawn this year to include a higher concentration — nearly 90 percent — of 18- to 29-year-old residents. While both have pegged student support as a major issue in their campaigns, student contributions do not make up a large proportion of their war chests — probably, Barry said, because students have little money to give.

Of his out-of-city funds, more than $1,000 comes from Chicago, where Barry has relatives, more than $700 comes from employees of Blue Shield, the insurance company for which he works, and more than $800 comes from Washington, D.C., where he used to live.

“Most of it’s been person to person, some on the phone, some by email, some people that I know personally, some people who are kind of part of my broader network,” Barry said, adding that Worthington may have amassed less in contributions because he filed candidacy later than Barry.

For both Worthington and Barry, most contributions outside of Berkeley come from California cities, with a fair number coming from San Francisco and Oakland. Worthington has only a few of out-of-state contributions, including a $250 donation from Howard Chong, a former intern for his office who now resides in Brooktondale, New York.

Worthington said he has tried to compensate for his smaller funds in volunteer work. While he still receives money from the same people who have supported him over his past 18 years in office, the size of each contribution has dwindled.

“Most of my contributors think that I’m a shoo-in,” Worthington said. “They’re spending smaller checks.”

With more money, Worthington said, he might send out more campaign literature to counter campaign mailers that question his record on crime. Unlike Worthington, Barry has the endorsement of the Berkeley Police Association, a labor organization that represents city police officers and has spent more than $6,000 to support Barry’s campaign. One of its expenditures is a mailer that calls crime in People’s Park and on Telegraph Avenue under Worthington’s watch “out of control.”

BPA president Sgt. Chris Stines said that while the Berkeley Police Association has endorsed candidates before, it had not previously formed a political action committee.

“This is the first year that we’ve been this politically active,” Stines said. “There’s some really big changes afoot in Berkeley. … We want to support the (candidates) that really understand where Berkeley needs to go and are not being mired in old thinking and unable to move forward.”

Other than the candidate, individual contributors can only contribute amounts of $250 or less, under Berkeley election law. The law does not apply to political action committees, which are not considered individual contributors.

Melissa Wen is the lead city news reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @melissalwen.