Proving a prodigious fund-raiser in his first run for elected office, former Police Chief Bernard C. Parks reported Friday that he had collected $393,000 for his campaign for the 8th District seat on the Los Angeles City Council. That's more than double what the other four contenders have banked combined.
Parks' fund-raising makes it highly likely that city-imposed spending limits will be lifted in the race. His opponents had agreed to limit their spending to $330,000 in exchange for public matching funds, but once Parks spends more than that amount, the limits will be lifted for the rest of the field, assuming they can raise more than that.
There are six contested council seats in the March 4 election, and campaign finance reports filed Friday with the city Ethics Commission show some candidates in other contests with lopsided leads in fund-raising too.
In the east San Fernando Valley's 6th Council District race, Assemblyman Tony Cardenas (D-Panorama City) reported raising $262,000 as of Dec. 31 compared with $1,500 raised by his only opponent, businessman Jose Roy Garcia.
However, no candidate in any other race is coming close to what Parks has raised so far in the campaign for South Los Angeles' 8th District.
Public matching funds and spending caps were introduced in 1991 and have significantly reduced the amount spent in City Council races.
A spokesman said Parks has surpassed the $400,000 mark since Dec. 31, putting him on a pace to eclipse the record amount raised in a council primary without matching funds since the program was adopted. Barbara Yaroslavsky holds the record, having raised $464,000 without matching funds in her unsuccessful 1995 council bid.
Parks, the only person on the ballot who turned down matching funds, said through a spokesman that his success at filling campaign coffers is a sign he has broad support.
His opponents were critical of the size of his war chest.
"He is trying to buy the race, and I think the voters are smarter than that," said candidate Forescee Hogan-Rowles, an economic development administrator who has raised about $30,000 so far.
Kerman Maddox, a Parks campaign spokesman, said the former chief is proud of the contributions he has received from hundreds of supporters. "That's an overwhelming endorsement of an extension of his career in public service," Maddox said.
Other candidates in the 8th District include Empowerment Congress Chairman Robert Cole, who reported raising $54,196, including a $24,000 loan he made to his campaign, and community developer Sherri L. Franklin, who raised $42,000. Publisher Kevin Melton did not file a campaign report by late Friday but said he has raised about $15,000 from supporters and contributed $30,000 of his own money.
"I don't need that kind of money," Melton said of Parks' sum. "He has to raise that much because he has a lot to overcome."
In the race for the 4th Council District, which extends from Hollywood to the south Valley, Councilman Tom LaBonge reported that he had raised $90,000, while his only opponent, film executive Derek Milosavljevic, said he had raised $5,000.
In the contest to replace Nate Holden in the 10th Council District, Deron E. Williams took the fund-raising lead.
Williams, who is on leave as Holden's chief field deputy, reported raising $192,850 in contributions and matching funds as of Dec. 31.
"It's a fact of life that this campaign will be real competitive, so I have to spend money to get my message out," Williams said.
District director Martin Ludlow reported raising $164,362 in contributions and matching funds, former Assemblyman Roderick Wright raised nearly $80,000, minister Madison Shockley reported bringing in $57,379 and attorney Leo Terrell reported having collected $43,610, including a $25,000 loan of his own money.
Another candidate in the race, attorney John Caldwell, could not be reached and his finance statement was not available, but he has not yet filed the notice of reaching $50,000.
In the 12th Council District race, Greig Smith, chief of staff to retiring incumbent Hal Bernson, reported raising $216,000 during the reporting period, which entitles him to $65,000 in matching funds. None of the other five candidates had raised $50,000 as of Dec. 31, although Los Angeles school board member Julie Korenstein and businessman Robert Vinson have since surpassed that level.
In the 14th Council District, Councilman Nick Pacheco reported Friday that he had raised $339,768, including $82,000 in public matching funds, for his reelection effort. That is more than twice the amount raised by his chief rival, former Assemblyman Antonio Villaraigosa, who reported taking in $120,890 in contributions and matching funds as of Dec. 31.
The third candidate in the race, senior-youth commissioner Paul Gonzales, said his filing was not available late Friday, but he estimated that he had raised $10,000 to $15,000. "We're still on the warpath," he said, "and we will raise the money we need to qualify for matching funds."