Laurie Capitelli. Photo: courtesy Laurie Capitelli

The Berkeley political jostling has begun, even though elections will, of course, only be held in November.

City Councilman Jesse Arreguín has raised close to $25,000 for his race for mayor, almost four times as much as City Councilman Laurie Capitelli, his strongest opponent.

Capitelli, who has been endorsed by a majority of the city council, raised $6,380 in the six months leading up to Dec. 31, 2105, according to campaign finance statements.

Read more about the 2016 Berkeley election.

There is a $250 limit for individual contributions in Berkeley candidate elections. Businesses cannot contribute.

Some of those who contributed $250 to Capitelli’s campaign are those involved with Berkeley’s current construction boom. They include Denise Pinkston, a developer and vice-chair of the Zoning Adjustments Board; David Trachtenberg, an architect who has designed a number of the multi-family apartment buildings now rising in Berkeley; Richard Millikan, who helped develop the Fourth Street shopping district; Aileen Dolby, a commercial realtor for Colliers International; and Patrick Leaper, a colleague of Capitelli’s at Red Oak Realty. Capitelli told Berkeleyside that he just started his fundraising the last two weeks of December, a holiday period, and he is “confident” he will eventually have the funds to get his message out to voters.

Jesse Arreguin. Photo: courtesy Jesse Arreguin
Jesse Arreguín. Photo: courtesy Jesse Arreguín

Arreguín raised $24,922 over a period of two months, he told Berkeleyside. His donors include many of the people who are critical of Mayor Tom Bates and the laws that have been passed by him and his five like-minded colleagues on the council.

Among those who donated $250 to Arreguín are Gene Poschman, Arreguín’s appointee to the Planning Commission; Zelda Bronstein, a former planning commissioner; Carrie Olsen and Austene Hall, who serve or have served on the Landmarks Preservation Commission (Hall is an Arreguín appointee); Jacquelyn McCormick, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2012 and is now an Arreguín appointee to the Loan Administration Board; Moni Law, a housing counselor for the Rent Stabilization Board; Dan Knapp of Urban Ore; Carole Kennerly, a former city council member; and Max Anderson, a city councilman who is not running again.

In a press release, Arreguín’s campaign consultant, Noah Finneburgh, of RALLY Campaigns, pointed out that 70% of Arreguín’s donors were Berkeley residents, and they came from all parts of the city. Arreguín has been endorsed by former Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport, Max Anderson, Berkeley Rent Board chair Jesse Townley and a super-majority of the elected Rent Board.

Stephen Murphy
Stephen Murphy. Photo: courtesy Stephen Murphy

That is not the case with those who donated to Stephen Murphy, who is running to replace Capitelli in District 5. The majority of the people who donated to his campaign come from outside Berkeley.

Murphy, who has been endorsed by Bates, Capitelli, and city councilwoman Lori Droste, has raised $16,195 so far. Among those who gave him $250 are Capitelli, Droste, Marilyn Capitelli, Dmitri Belser, who sits on the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and Harry Pollock, who sits on the Planning Commission with Murphy.

Murphy said it is early in his campaign (his formal launch is Saturday Feb. 6) so he has not yet solicited people in Berkeley. Instead, he asked a number of family members who live outside of the Bay Area for campaign contributions.

Sophie Hahn
Sophie Hahn. Photo: courtesy Sophie Hahn

Sophie Hahn, a ZAB commissioner who officially kicked off her campaign on Feb. 1, has raised $10,845 so far, and she and Arreguín share many of the same supporters. Among her $250 donors are Bronstein, Hall, and Olson. Others include Patrick Sheahan, an architect and former planning commissioner who has fought against development in West Berkeley; Diane Davenport, a retired librarian who was active in calling attention to the number of discarded books at the central library; and Tomas Schoenberg, a vice president at Swig Co.

Jesse Townley, the chair of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, has taken out papers to run for the  District 5 seat now held by Capitelli, but has not raised any money so far.

None of those who took out papers to succeed Anderson, who is retiring, filed campaign finance reports. They are Benjamen Bartlett, a member of the Planning Commission; Deborah Matthews, a Realtor who has served on numerous city boards, including the Planning and Housing commissions and the Zoning Adjustments Board; and John Selawsky, a member of the Rent Stabilization Board and former School Board member. Neither Susan Wengraf nor Darryl Moore, both city councilmembers who are expected to run for re-election, has taken out papers or filed campaign finance statements either. Guy “Mike” Lee, a homeless advocate who is running for mayor, did not file campaign reports. Nor did Naomi D. Pete, the only registered Republican in the race for mayor.

Stay tuned to Berkeleyside for 2016 election coverage.

With mayor and 2 councilmen stepping aside, election is heating up (01.14.16)
Laurie Capitelli to run for mayor in 2016 (11.18.15)
Jesse Arreguín formally announces run for mayor (10.22.15)
Oops! Did Jesse Arreguín inadvertently declare he is running for for mayor? (10.20.15)

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...