In East Palo Alto's City Council race, candidate Mark Dinan has received a large backing from real estate agents and tech workers, netting $22,579 in donations, according to campaign finance disclosures filed with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
The fundraising is in stark contrast to the other six candidates who have taken more traditional means of smaller, local donations and personal loans to their campaigns. As of Oct. 10, most of the other candidates said they haven't reached the $2,000 threshold that would require them to file a financial statement with the state.
Dinan received $1,000 donations from multiple real estate and property management contributors, including $1,000 each from Daly City rental property owner Godwin LLC, Hillsborough real estate broker Daniel Lee and broker Jennifer Liu of Palo Alto, and $2,000 from Shannon Lee of Solar Property Management in Daly City. In all, out of 75 listed donors to his campaign, 18 were in property, real estate or real estate investment. Of those, 16 were from out of town, including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Belmont, Woodside, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Santa Clara and Campbell. The remaining two were real estate brokers who were listed as East Palo Alto residents.
He also received $1,000 donations from Alexandr Sviridov, an information technology consultant, and Andrew Lim of San Francisco, who is listed as retired.
Dinan, who is a tech recruiter, also had a large following from the tech sector, including software engineers, recruiters, and tech consultants. Twelve listed their city of residence as East Palo Alto and 12 were from out of the city.
Fourteen East Palo Alto residents who are not in tech or real estate also donated to Dinan, including the Rev. Deborah Lewis-Virges. Dinan also received $250 from the Josh Becker for Senate 2024 campaign from Sacramento. Nineteen out-of-town donors who were not listed as being in tech or real estate made up the remainder of Dinan's contributors.
He has spent $6,414 this year on campaign paraphernalia, web advertising on Facebook and Google, polling and fundraising events, his filings show.
Dinan said in an email that he had more than 120 people donate to his campaign.
"I am very grateful for the support I have received from people who want a brighter future for East Palo Alto. People are ready for change in East Palo Alto, and my supporters are willing to chip in and help fund a campaign that advocates for housing, safe streets, clean water, traffic enforcement, cleaned up parks, no illegal fireworks, and a government that responds to the needs of its residents," he said.
Dinan said the foundation of his campaign financing has come from East Palo Alto homeowners who are concerned about the proposed Opportunity to Purchase Act that the city could enact. The act would give tenants, affordable housing nonprofits and the city first rights to purchase a property before it's put on the open market. The measure is opposed by landlords and many homeowners.
Dinan didn't directly address the large number of outside real estate interests that contributed to his campaign.
"Many of my contributions came from long-term residents of EPA who only want the same rules at the point of sale as Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and other surrounding communities," he said.
"Do note that I have received many donations below $100 that do not show up on filing forms, and I have also received many donations from EPA renters who share the very same concerns as homeowners around quality-of-life issues," he said.
The other candidates have campaign financing that is small and from more local sources. Webster Lincoln largely financed his campaign with loans to himself, FPPC records show. Lincoln received $750 in donations for the year through Sept. 24 from his mother and local Realtor Ken Harris. He loaned his campaign $19,522 and spent $2,662 on shirts, banners and signs.
Mayor Ruben Abrica, the only incumbent, said he has only just reached the $2,000 contributions goal and has 10 days to file his 460 contributions form. He loaned his campaign $1,000. He has received $372 in small donations. Of those amounting to more than $100, he received $250 from the Josh Becker for Senate campaign, $300 from Roberta Ahlquist and $200 from Carol Lamont, both of Palo Alto. He has spent $1,488 on campaign materials such as flyers and $150 for a Three Brothers Taqueria food campaign event.
Martha Barragan and Jeffrey Austin said their campaigns have not gone over the $2,000 filing threshold.
Updates on the candidate's filings can be found in the city's public portal for campaign finance disclosures.