With the City Council election about five weeks away, Palo Alto's longest-serving council member and its longest-serving planning commissioner are leading the crowded candidate field when it comes to cash raised.
Greg Tanaka, who is on his eighth year on the Planning and Transportation Commission, had more money on hand than any other candidate, according to campaign-finance documents filed Thursday, which cover the period between July 1 and Sept. 24. He ended the period with a cash balance of $37,982 after receiving $47,323 in contributions.
Both Kniss and Tanaka are among the more moderate candidates when it comes to growth. Though each has opposed specific developments in the past, neither is affiliated with the slow-growth “residentialist” movement and each has endorsements from a long list of democratic political veterans, including state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, as well as Palo Alto councilmen Greg Scharff and Cory Wolbach.
Kniss' contributors include former mayors Lanie Wheeler ($100), Larry Klein ($250) and Greg Scharff ($500). She has also received contributions from former planning commission Chair Dan Garber ($999), neighborhood activist Norm Beamer ($100), land-use watchdog Bob Moss ($100) and Carl Guardino, CEO of Slicon Valley Leadership Group ($200). Developer Boyd Smith had contributed $1,000 to her campaign on Aug. 16, though she returned the money two weeks later.
Some of the same people also contributed to Tanaka's campaign, with Scharff and Klein contributing $950 and $250, respectively, and attorney A.C. Johnston contributing $500 (the same amount he gave to Kniss).
Tanaka also received money from developers Boyd and Lund Smith, each of whom contributed $1,000; Roxy Rapp, who contributed $1,000; and Jim Baer, who gave $250. Other supporters are past and present commissioners, including Dave Bower of the Historic Resources Board ($250) and Dan Garber, former chair of the Planning and Transportation Commission ($999).
In the second tier of fundraising are Adrian Fine and Don McDougall, each of whom has also benefited from endorsements and contributions from democratic heavyweights and council members who are not in the slow-growth camp.
Fine received $35,707 in total contributions, with supporters including $1,000 from former planning commissioner Kate Downing, a proponent of building more housing who publicly resigned from the commission in July. He ended the period with $23,425 on hand.
Downing isn't the only proponent of growth who favors Fine's campaign. Steve Levy and Elaine Uang, founding members of the citizens group Palo Alto Forward, have each contributed $500 to Fine, while Sandra Slater, also a co-founder of the group, donated $200. Developer Rapp contributed $1,000 to Fine, who also received $500 payments from Jaime D'Alessandro and Tod Spieker, who have proposed a 60-unit apartment building for the corner of El Camino Real and Page Mill Road. Fine's list of contributors also includes realtor William Reller ($2,500) and former mayors Betsy Bechtel ($100), Scharff ($980) and Klein ($250).
McDougall ended the reporting period with an ending cash balance of $19,246 after raising $24,844, though he contributed about $15,000 to his own campaign. Like Fine, McDougall also benefited from contributions from Klein ($250) and Scharff ($975), as well as from Levy ($500), who serves with Fine and McDougall on the citizens committee that is now updating the city's Comprehensive Plan.
Arthur Keller, who co-chairs the citizens committee and is affiliated more closely with the council's “residentialist” wing, raised $24,074 and ended the reporting period with $15,789 on hand. His contributors include neighborhood leaders, land-use watchdogs and several former and current council members.
Cheryl Lilienstein, president of the citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, contributed $500 to Keller, while Joe Hirsch, member of the group's steering committee gave $990. Former council members Emily Renzel and Enid Pearson, both longtime conservationists who favor slow-growth policies, contributed $50 and $100, respectively; former Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto gave $250; and LaDoris Cordell, a former councilwoman and retired judge, contributed another $250.
Keller has also received contributions from three council members from the residentialist side of the political aisle: Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth gave $100 and $250, respectively, while Greg Schmid gave $200.
Filseth and DuBois gave the same amount to candidate Lydia Kou, who also tilts toward slow-growth policies. Kou received $16,937 in contributions and had $13,462 on hand at the end of the reporting period, her campaign finance records show. Her contributors include numerous critics of recent developments, including those who like Kou opposed the city's plan to rezone a site on Maybell Avenue to accommodate a housing development in 2013. Lazlo Tokes, who participated in that campaign, contributed $1,000 to Kou while Kevin Hauk, who also opposed Measure D, gave $100.
Greer Stone and Stewart Carl, both of whom have also been endorsed by council members from the residential camp, haven't raised as much as Keller and Kou. Stone, who chairs the city's Human Relations Commission, enjoys the backing of current Mayor Pat Burt and Councilwoman Karen Holman, who co-chair his election committee. He also has the backing of Dubois, Filseth, Renzel and Pearson.
But when it comes to fundraising, campaign documents suggest that Stone hasn't been as active as others in this political camp. He raised $3,250 and had an ending cash balance of $1,980. His contributors include his fiancee Adriana Oropeza-Gamez ($1,000), Holman ($250) and Renzel ($100).
Carl received $2,566 and had $1,312 cash on hand. Pearson and Renzel each contributed $100 to his campaign, while his College Terrace neighbors and veteran land-use watchdogs Doria Summa and Fred Balin contributed $200 and $100, respectively. DuBois also contributed $100 to Carl's campaign.
Leonard Ely, a commercial real estate broker who has not been involved in the recent political battles, with his campaign statement showing $2,500 in contributions and $1,447 in cash on hand, has one contributor: Leonard Ely.
Candidates John Fredrich and Danielle Martell are both running low-budget campaigns with no committees. Neither has filed finance documents.
All campaign statements can be viewed here.
Correction: The story initially reported that developer Boyd Smith had contributed $1,000 to Liz Kniss campaign but failed to mention that the campaign later returned that money. Also, the contribution from Lanie Wheeler to the Kniss campaign was misstated. It's $100.
The Weekly has created a Storify page for its coverage on the Palo Alto City Council election.