The March 3 race to replace Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss is shaping up as a close contest, with six candidates almost evenly matched in their fundraising, according to campaign finance reports turned in this week.
In a Westside district stretching from Westwood to Sherman Oaks, former Weiss aide Adeena Bleich reported that she has raised roughly $199,000, more than her opponents.
The other five had similarly strong showings, with each taking in at least $150,000 since the campaign began.
With such a competitive field, Bleich said, she cannot tell which of her opponents is the most formidable.
"It could be anybody's race," said Bleich, who also worked for the mayoral campaign of former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg.
Weiss is leaving his seat to run for city attorney.
His district is one of the city's wealthiest, taking in Bel-Air, Encino and nearby areas.
But it also has some of the worst traffic, especially on streets near the 405 Freeway.
Money is crucial in election campaigns, allowing candidates to pay consultants, publish campaign literature, solicit mail-in ballots and, in some cases, get commercials on radio or television.
In terms of fundraising, the closest runner-up in Weiss' district was attorney Ron Galperin, who has collected $182,000 over the course of the campaign, according to City Ethics Commission reports. Galperin, who lives in Coldwater Canyon, lent his campaign roughly $25,000.
"The best way to raise money is with personal relationships," he said. "It's not about lists" of other politicians' contributors "but about reaching out to people and getting their ideas."
Three other candidates also provided roughly $25,000 to their campaigns: Neighborhood Council member David "Ty" Vahedi, businesswoman Robyn Ritter Simon and former West Hollywood City Councilman Paul Koretz. Lawyer Robert Schwartz lent himself $21,000, according to his report.
Although the city's ethics law prohibits individual contributors from giving more than $500 in council races, multiple employees of the same company can give to the same candidate.
For example, Schwartz, who has worked in the entertainment industry for three decades, was given $5,800 by employees of Paradigm, a talent agency.
Firms that seek city business also had employees making multiple contributions. They include:
* Bomel Construction, which is seeking city approval to build a multistory residential building on La Brea Avenue.
Three Bomel employees gave Galperin a combined $750.
* Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine & Regenstreif, a law firm that provides legal services to the city's' Department of Water and Power and Los Angeles World Airports.
The firm's employees gave Ritter Simon $1,000 and Bleich $1,500.
* Michelman & Robinson, a law firm that provides legal services to the DWP. The firm's employees gave a combined $3,650 to Ritter Simon.
* Wetherly Capital, which represents businesses that seek investment funds from the city's pension agencies. Wetherly's employees gave $2,500 to Bleich.
Bleich said Wetherly's managing partner, Daniel Weinstein, is an enthusiastic supporter whom she met during Hertzberg's 2005 campaign. Bleich received $6,450 from Wetherly's clients, roughly a third of it from CityView, a firm whose executive chairman is former Cabinet Secretary Henry Cisneros.
Over the last three years, two city pensions funds have committed up to $50 million in CityView.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times