Ferry, Weste Lead Fundraising
SANTA CLARITA - In the final campaign finance filings before next week's election, Santa Clarita Councilman Frank Ferry continued to lead the pack with more than $109,800.
Forms filed by Thursday evening's deadline and released Friday by the city show Mayor Laurene Weste has raised more than $76,000 and Councilwoman Marsha McLean has raised more than $38,000.
But a local resident who champions public campaign finance reform questions the independence of incumbents who accept contributions from businesses that stand to benefit from council decisions.
"I looked at all of the candidates' filings as of the last filing, and was saddened to see how much money goes into the incumbents' coffers from developer interests," said Carole Lutness, chairwoman of the Santa Clarita Clean Money for Better Government Committee.
"It's blatantly obvious that when our elected officials receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from business interests that they are ... influenced in their decisions about growth and development in this community," she added.
Lutness also serves as chairwoman of the 38th Assembly District Committee for the Democratic Party.
Councilwoman McLean said Lutness' premise lacks substance.
"It takes money to run a campaign ... to get the word out to voters," she said. "It's great to be idealistic, to say you're not going to accept any money from developers. But just because you do, the $360 that you're allowed to accept doesn't buy my vote, and just because you're an incumbent doesn't mean you're beholden to anybody."
McLean, whose council duties have become a full-time job, said instead of making assumptions, voters should look at the job the council members are doing.
With little more than a week to go before the April 11 election, challenger Mark Hershey has raised nearly $23,000 and Lynne Plambeck has raised about $10,100. Michael Cruz had not filed by the Thursday deadline. Henry Schultz has raised more than $5,000.
Citizens for Integrity in Government, a political action committee that distributed mailers opposing Plambeck and Schultz and supporting the incumbents, has reported $25,800 in contributions. The funds came from the Southern California chapter of the Building Industry Association, which is funded by development interests, and from other building interests.
Members of the bipartisan grass-roots committee that is seeking campaign reform asked council members in February to consider public campaign finance. They were told the matter would be explored after the upcoming election.
The next filing of campaign finance donations is due in July, after the election.
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