Palo Alto City Council candidates Cory Wolbach, an incumbent, and Alison Cormack are heading into the final month of the campaign season with significant fundraising leads over their three opponents, according to campaign finance documents released Thursday.
The new documents, which include contributions made between July 1 and Sept. 22, show Wolbach in the lead with $63,769 in total contributions so far this year, including $26,301 in the latest reporting period. While Wolbach has pledged not to accept contributions from developers, his list of campaign donors includes a wide range of attorneys, realtors, investors, tech workers and local residents.
His biggest contributor to date is real-estate broker Monique Lombardelli, who in March contributed $2,500 to the campaign. Realtors Zachary Trailer and Leannah Hunt gave him $1,000 and $250, respectively.
Wolbach also is receiving significant support from the tech industry. Michael Angelo, an engineer at Google, contributed $2,000, while Lauren Angelo, an engineer who is currently not employed, gave $2,160. Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, also gave $1,000 to the Wolbach campaign, while Gary Kremen, founder of Match.com and chair of the Santa Clara County Water District board of directors, contributed $500.
Wolbach's campaign also is getting a boost from other elected officials. The campaign of state Assemblyman Marc Berman, who had previously served with Wolbach on the council, contributed $1,000, including $500 in the latest reporting period. Palo Alto Board of Education member Terry Godfrey and former board president Dana Tom each gave $100, as has state Sen. Jerry Hill, for whom Wolbach has previously worked as a legislative aide. Former Palo Alto mayors Larry Klein ($500), Bern Beecham ($200), Sid Espinosa ($100) and Peter Drekmeier ($100) also are supporting Wolbach's campaign.
Stephen Downing, whose occupation is listed as a "stay at home dad," contributed $2,000.
Cormack, a former Google employee who in 2008 headed Palo Alto's successful $76 million bond campaign to upgrade the library system, also received significant contributions from the tech workers, business executives and local officials. Her campaign raised $24,499 between July 1 and Sept. 22, and $59,798 so far this year, according to the finance documents.
Her largest donors in the latest reporting period include Melody Wu, founder of Melody Academy of Music, Aneel Bhusri, CEO of Workday, and retired developer William Reller, each of whom gave her $1,000. Other donors include former state senator Rebecca Morgan of Los Altos Hills ($1,000), Nana Chancellor, whose occupation is listed as homemaker ($1,000), and local resident Judith Lin Kay ($1,000). Pei Cao, a software engineer at Google, also contributed $1,000.
Mayor Liz Kniss and Councilman Greg Scharff each contributed $500 to Cormack's campaign, while Berman's campaign contributed another $500.
Of the five candidates, Cormack is the only one who has not pledged to reject donations from developers. Even so, the vast majority of her contributions do not involve donors in development or real estate. A notable exception is Reller, though Cormack said at a candidates forum earlier this week that she has no problem with accepting the contribution.
"I'm personally grateful for Palo Alto Commons and some of the other things he has constructed," Cormack said at the forum, which was sponsored by the Rotary Club.
Trailing Wolbach and Cormack were Councilman Tom DuBois and Vice Mayor Eric Filseth, two incumbents who are being supported by Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, a political action committee that advocates for slow-growth policies. Both raised just over $37,000, with the vast majority of their cash coming in since July 1.
DuBois' and Filseth's contributors include neighborhood activists, tech professionals and former mayors, who in many cases gave the same amount to each candidate.
DuBois has raised $37,425 so far this year, while Filseth has raised $37,373, according to campaign documents.
Downtown resident Gabrielle Layton gave $5,000 to both the Filseth and the DuBois campaigns, as has G. Leonard Baker, a venture capitalist with Sutter Hill Ventures. Tench Coxe, also a venture capitalist with Sutter Hill Ventures, contributed $2,500 to each candidate, while Simone Coxe contributed another $2,500.
Layton, Baker and the Coxes were among the donors who collectively contributed about $100,000 in the 2016 election to support the candidacies of Lydia Kou and Arthur Keller, both of whom had also been endorsed by Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning. Helyn McLean, who also made large contributions in 2016, gave $5,000 to the DuBois campaign this time around, according to the documents.
Joe Hirsch, one of the leaders of Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, contributed $1,000 to both the DuBois and to Filseth. Technologist Hamilton Hitchings, who worked on a citizens committee to update the city's Comprehensive Plan, gave $450 to each of them.
DuBois and Filseth also received many smaller contributions from neighborhood leaders. Norman Beamer, president of the Crescent Park Residents Association, gave $500 to each of them. Elaine Meyer of University South gave $250 to Filseth and $255 to DuBois. Sheri Furman, a longtime leader of the umbrella group Palo Alto Neighborhoods, gave $250 to the Filseth campaign and $255 to DuBois'.
Also supporting both campaigns are former council members Greg Schmid ($150), Peter Drekmeier ($100), Emily Renzel ($50) and Enid Pearson ($50). Former Mayor Pat Burt has also contributed $250 to the DuBois campaign.
Pat Boone, a former TV journalist, has raised a total of $660, according to the campaign documents. His two largest contributions came from Bob Stefanski, co-founder of eLab Ventures, and Shailesh Rao, chief operating officer of BrowserStack, Inc., each of whom contributed $250.
At the Monday forum, he contrasted his contributions with those of his opponents in the race and characterized his council bid as a "grassroots campaign." He also said he is not accepting any contributions from developers, political action committees or politicians.
"I'm pretty much like a 'Jimmy Stewart' campaign — like 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,'" Boone said at the forum.
The five candidates are racing for the three seats on a council that is set to see a reduction from nine to seven seats. Scharff and Councilwoman Karen Holman are both set to term out at the end of the year.
See spreadsheets of the candidates' campaign donations:
The Palo Alto Weekly and Palo Alto Online are hosting a candidates forum with all five candidates on Wednesday, Oct. 3 at the Little Theatre at Cubberley Community Center from 7:30-9 p.m.