NEWPORT BEACH : Planner Has Big Lead in Campaign Funds

Planning Commissioner Janice A. Debay leads a field of six candidates in campaign fund raising for the Nov. 3 election to fill three seats on the City Council.

Debay has raised more than twice as much money as her opponent, account executive Richard Banks, in the race to succeed retiring District 2 Councilwoman Ruthelyn Plummer, according to financial disclosure forms filed this week. Plummer is vacating her seat in the district, which covers West Newport, after 12 years in office.

Debay raised $5,163, mainly in contributions from city residents, while Banks has loaned his campaign $2,500. Each candidate has spent nearly $2,000 in printing costs and filing fees, according to the documents.

Some of the 23 contributors to Debay's campaign include Michael D. Stephens, chief executive officer of Hoag Hospital; former City Atty. Dennis O'Neil; and Beverly Ray, widow of Balboa Bay Club owner Bill Ray. Debay has also received small contributions from two political-action committees, five real estate brokers and several other business owners, her statement shows.

A city ordinance limits contributions from individuals and organizations to $200.

Councilwoman Jean H. Watt, who represents District 5, the Balboa Island area, raised about as much money as her two challengers combined. Watt's $4,349 came from 63 supporters, including dozens of local environmental activists, according to her statement.

Watt's opponents, real estate broker Diane Coltrane and management consultant Richard C. Lewis, raised $1,699 and $2,461, respectively. Each has spent just under $2,000 on printing costs and filing fees to date.

Coltrane's contributions came from eight Newport residents and one Irvine resident. Two people contributed a total of $271 to Lewis' campaign.

Twelve-year Councilman John C. Cox Jr. of District 7, which includes parts of Corona del Mar, is running unopposed for his fourth term. He is expected to file a special statement required for candidates who raise or spend less than $1,000, said City Clerk Wanda E. Raggio. As of Thursday, three days past the deadline, Cox had not filed the statement, Raggio said. Cox could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The statements show money raised and spent by City Council candidates between July 1 and Sept. 30. Candidates must file additional statements on Oct. 22 and again by Jan. 31, Raggio said.

Raggio said that when James B. Person ran against Councilman Don Strauss in the 1986 election, he spent $56,659, more than any other candidate in recent history. Strauss spent $26,826 and won, she said.

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