Who’s backing candidates for sheriff, district attorney, and other races?

With Alameda County’s June 7 primary election approaching, we followed the money.


Several powerful elected positions in Alameda County are on the June 7 primary ballot, including the district attorney, sheriff, and superintendent of schools. Each has a major impact on Berkeley residents and we’ve covered the candidates and major issues in previous stories. While raising money to run for office isn’t everything, it does help reveal where candidates draw their support from. We dug into each candidate’s most recent campaign finance statements to try to learn more about their base of support.

Alameda County District Attorney

Pamela Price’s largest single donation, $40,000, came from Jacob Bauer, the father of a man who died in a hospital in 2018 hours after being restrained by Pleasanton police. Bauer also donated $100,000 to an independent expenditure committee that is backing Price, a civil rights attorney. Price has drawn money from other civil rights attorneys, including Carl Douglas of Los Angeles, $2,500, and the Bay Area’s Charles Bonner, $1,500.

  • Money raised: $338,000
  • Money spent: $348,000
  • Loans: $20,650 self loan
  • Where’s the money coming from?: 37% of Price’s fundraising comes from Oakland residents. The second-highest-ranking city is Berkeley, at 8%, followed by San Francisco at 6%.
  • Independent expenditures: A committee run by Blain Ludovic of California Donor Table, a group that channels wealthy individuals’ money to progressive causes, has spent $43,000 supporting Price with yard signs, texting services, and more. Oakland Rising, a local progressive political action committee, also independently spent $6,800 on digital ads supporting Price.

Seth Steward, a former San Francisco prosecutor and current chief of staff to Councilmember Dan Kalb, has drawn support from people within or connected to local politics and others working in energy and environmental fields. Most of his recent contributions were in small amounts but he received $1,000 each from Odilla Sidime, an Oakland conflict management specialist, and Sam Ward, a director of security and private asset manager from Los Angeles. 

  • Money raised: $142,000
  • Money spent: $135,000
  • Loans: None
  • Where’s the money coming from?: 55% of Steward’s funds were contributed by Oakland residents with Walnut Creek coming in second at 10%. Relatives in West Chester, Pennsylvania contributed 10% of Steward’s total, and San Francisco residents gave 6% of all funds.

Terry Wiley, the No. 3 person in the Alameda DA’s office as chief deputy district attorney, has pulled support from fellow prosecutors, with the Alameda County Prosecutors Association contributing $40,000. Congressman Eric Swalwell, a former county prosecutor, donated $10,000. Other sizable donations came from California Waste Solutions, $5,000, developer Phil Tagami, $13,900, and American Hospice and Home Health Care Services in Dublin, $10,000

  • Money raised: $573,000
  • Money spent: $491,000
  • Loans: None
  • Where’s the money coming from?: Oakland accounts for 27% of Wiley’s total funds raised followed by Dublin residents who gave 14% and Livermore at 9%.

Jimmie Wilson, a deputy district attorney, has gone on a spending spree during the final weeks leading up to election day. Wilson reported spending $324,398 in April and May, far more than any of his opponents, thanks in large part to huge donations from Christine and Peter Berg of Ross, $78,000; Sharon and Joseph Saunders, a venture capitalist from San Francisco, $80,000; and AB Group of Livermore, $40,000. Wilson recently loaned his campaign $100,000 and his wife, Patricia, donated $38,500.

  • Money raised: $438,000
  • Money spent: $447,000
  • Loans: $100,000 self loan; $2,000 from Christine Berg
  • Where’s the money coming from?: We were unable to download data from the county registrar for Wilson’s campaign.
  • Independent expenditures: United Latinos Vote PAC, an independent expenditure committee funded by the Oakland Police Officers Association and Union City Police Officers Association has also spent $16,000 on mailers supporting Wilson.

Alameda County Sheriff/Coroner

Gregory Ahern’s support has come from people in law enforcement, real estate, and car dealership owners, who have donated tens of thousands of dollars to Ahern. In the past few weeks, the California Real Estate Political Action Committee contributed $10,000 to the sheriff’s campaign, while the California Apartment Association chipped in $2,500. District Attorney Nancy O’Malley donated $5,000, $7,500 from Wendy Allard of Diablo, and $2,500 each from Kao Saelee, owner of Oakland’s Jo’s Modern Thai, Santa Rita Bail Bonds,  B&B Vehicle Processing, Inc., and the Construction & General Laborers Local Union.  Ahern has paid nearly $24,000 to Axiom Strategies, a Republican campaign consulting firm based in Kansas City, his latest filing shows. 

  • Money raised: $422,000
  • Money spent: $443,000
  • Loans: None
  • Where’s the money coming from?: Most of Ahern’s support is coming from southern Alameda County and the Tri-Valley area. The largest share of Ahern’s funds came from Dublin, 23%, and Concord, 21%. Livermore donors were 10% of the sheriff’s contributors, while Oakland’s share was 1.6%. 
  • Independent expenditures: The police union-funded United Latinos Vote PAC has paid for $49,000 in mailers supporting Ahern. The Oakland Police Officers Association is the largest donor to the PAC. 

Yesenia Sanchez’s campaign this month got a big boost from the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which contributed $17,500, and the Alameda Labor Council AFL-CIO Solidarity PAC, which gave $4,900. Other donors include Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Asian Americans for Progressive Alameda, Assemblymember Bill Quirk, and state Senator Nancy Skinner. Andy and David Duong of California Waste Solutions, who are under investigation by the Oakland Public Ethics Commission for allegedly funneling money through “straw donors” to Oakland councilmember campaign committees, contributed a total of $8,000. 

  • Money raised: $158,000
  • Money spent: $161,000
  • Loans: $38,550 self loan
  • Where’s the money coming from?: Nearly a quarter of Sanchez’s contributions came from Oakland. Sacramento donors accounted for 15% of her funds and money also poured in from Livermore and Hayward. 

JoAnn Walker, a San Francisco police officer, has loaned her campaign $145,000, more than five times the amount of money she’s raised from donors. The largest single recent contributions are $1,000 each from Mara Schecter, a digital campaign consultant from Oakland, and Lesa Mellion of San Leandro. Most contributions to Walker were in small amounts. 

  • Money raised: $28,000
  • Money spent: $106,000
  • Loans: $145,000 self loan
  • Where’s the money coming from?: More than half, 58.5%, of Walker’s funds came from her hometown, Hayward. The next biggest geographical sources are Oakland, 21%, and Fremont, 7%.

Alameda County Superintendent of Public Instruction

Alysse Castro is the executive director of county schools in San Francisco and previously Alameda County’s director of student programs. Her fundraising reflects this, with much of her campaign cash coming from teachers, school administrators, and other educators. Castro gave her own campaign $10,000. Her other biggest contributors are John Gill, a Lockheed Martin engineer who gave $16,000, retired couple Robin and Lloyd Lehrer of Manhattan Beach who gave a combined $15,000, and Alameda real estate broker Justine Francis, who gave $5,000. 

  • Money raised: $122,000
  • Money spent: $110,000
  • Loans: None
  • Where’s the money coming from? The largest share of Castro’s funding, 29%, is from Oakland contributors, with Alameda and San Francisco residents making up 22% and 14%.
  • Independent expenditures: The progressive activist committees Oakland Rising and Oakland Not for Sale gave $4,900 and $4,000, respectively. Castro also received $1,000 each from the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, the California Federation of Teachers, and a union that represents electrical workers. The independent expenditure committee of Oakland Rising has spent $6,800 on ads supporting Castro. 

L.K. Monroe is the current county Superintendent of Public Instruction and her fundraising draws from these education networks. Monroe loaned her own campaign $15,000, the largest single source of cash. Retired Berkeley teacher Karen Meryash contributed $15,000, and two unions, the Sprinkler Fitters & Apprentices Local 483 and the Steamfitters U.A. Local 342 both gave $5,000.

  • Money raised: $85,000
  • Money spent: $95,000
  • Loans: $15,000 self loan
  • Where’s the money coming from? 35% of Monroe’s funding is from Oakland contributors with Berkeley trailing in second place at 22% and Hayward at 6%.