Berkeley mayoral candidates file campaign finance statements

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Campaign finance statements, recently filed by Berkeley mayoral candidates Jesse Arreguin and Laurie Capitelli, indicate that Arreguin has received about $25,000 in donations, nearly four times the amount of Capitelli, who raised roughly $6,400.

The finance statements trace the amount of money donated from when each candidate announced their candidacy up until Dec. 31, 2015. Arreguin first announced his candidacy in October and Capitelli filed a month later in November.

During his 2012 re-election campaign, Mayor Tom Bates raised a total of $102,000, but by December 2011 — almost a year before the election — he had raised no funds.

Both candidates noted that sending mail will be among the largest costs of running their respective campaigns. With the cost of stamps at about 50 cents, Capitelli said, it costs about $20,000 to mail one letter to each of the 40,000 voters in Berkeley.

Berkeley campaign committees that earn more than $1,000 are required to file their campaign statements electronically, according to the Fair Campaign Practices Commission campaign filing manual. Guy “Mike” Lee and Naomi Pete — who both announced their candidacy last month — have yet to file their statements.

Capitelli said the gap in campaign funds is due to the fact that Arreguin filed to run for mayor several weeks before he did and therefore had more time to collect donations. He added that he only started fundraising in the second week of December.

“I’m not concerned about how much (Arreguin) raises, that’s his call. I want to make sure that I raise enough money to get my message out,” Capitelli said.

Among the contributors to Capitelli’s campaign are several building professionals in Berkeley, including local architects and realtors. Capitelli is a partner of Red Oak Realty and has worked at the company since 1978.

“He understands the need to invest in the city of Berkeley,” said David Trachtenberg, a local architect who donated to Capitelli’s campaign. “Because of his own professional experience, he understands the nature of construction and development.”

Aileen Dolby — a real estate broker for Colliers International and contributor to Capitelli’s campaign — echoed these sentiments, adding that, as a council member, Capitelli has led the city in obtaining and keeping business attractions that make Downtown “a pleasant place to be.”

Colliers International managed the sale of a 30,370-square-foot property on Bancroft Way slated to be redeveloped into a multi-use residential and retail space.

Capitelli said one of his foremost goals, if elected, would be to build up Berkeley economically.

“We have a lot of progressive goals and almost every one of them needs economic revenue to come to fruition,” Capitelli said.

Donators to Arreguin’s campaign included local activists, as well as members of the city’s Rent Stabilization Board and Zoning Adjustments Board.

“My donators represent young and old people from every corner of the city,” Arreguin said. “They’re not big business owners, unlike my opponent, who has largely been funded by real estate interests.”

Stephen Murphy, a candidate running for Capitelli’s now-vacant District 5 council chair, noted that Capitelli’s encouragement of development has brought financial benefits to the residents of Berkeley.

Arreguin emphasized that he plans on running a grassroots campaign, where he will focus on calling homes and going door-to-door to speak personally with Berkeley residents.

According to Robert Kagan, a campus professor emeritus of political science, grassroots campaigns typically do well in rallying voter turnout in Berkeley.

Arreguin also stressed that his major goals, if elected, will be to address Berkeley’s affordable housing crisis and create a larger space for business and technological innovation in the city.

“I think he’s done a good job finding a true balance between allowing opportunities for applicants to be able to build … in Berkeley, but also making sure that the community benefits from this as well,” said Zoning Adjustments Board commissioner Igor Tregub.

Kagan said, however, that in local elections the amount of money a campaign accrues is not necessarily a good indicator of a candidate’s chances of being elected.

“(The money) affects how many flyers they can afford to get and put under people’s doors,” Kagan said. “But I think people in Berkeley often look at who the endorsers are and look for cues other than just the flyers. They look for alliances.”

Jessica Lynn is the lead city government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jessicailynn.