Four of the seven candidates running for three open seats on the La Cañada Flintridge City Council have raised a total of more than $60,000 in campaign contributions heading into Election Day.
With fewer than 15,000 registered voters to sway, that’s more than $4 per potential ballot cast.
The largest campaign war chests of the race belong to Planning Commissioner Michael Davitt and incumbent Councilwoman Laura Olhasso.
Davitt leads the pack with $21,583 in political contributions as of Feb. 22, according to a round of campaign finance disclosure statements filed last week.
Olhasso, who has also tapped a wide range of supporters, isn’t far behind. She’s raised $19,681.
Mayor Don Voss has found $14,213 in contributions for his reelection bid and has also made himself a $5,000 loan.
Local businessman Charlie Kamar has $7,986 in campaign funds.
Hopefuls Jim Hill, Jacqueline Harris and Robert Richter are not actively seeking campaign contributions and have filed forms promising to raise and spend less than $1,000.
Tracing the sources of campaign coffers— who’s supporting whom, and how strongly — helps to map out candidates’ relationships with community members as well as other candidates.
In this race, campaign contributions show that council members and other politically-active La Cañadans have tended to rally around incumbents Olhasso and Voss while also embracing Davitt.
Members of the development and business communities have spread their support a bit differently, with developers mainly focused on support for Davitt and business owners among the most willing to share their dollars with Kamar.
Local pols open wallets
Not surprisingly, support from sitting public officials has helped drive the fundraising success of the race’s two incumbents and Davitt, who is endorsed by all five current City Council members.
State Assemblyman and former La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Anthony Portantino is the race’s largest single campaign donor. Portantino tapped his more than $600,000-strong elections spending account — money at the ready for a possible bid to unseat Congressman David Dreier in 2012 — to give $1,000 each to Olhasso and Voss, plus $500 to Davitt.
City Council members not in the running for re-election this year have also put their resources behind Davitt, Olhasso and Voss. Councilman Steven Del Guercio gave Voss $1,365 in food for a fundraiser and $250 each to Olhasso and Davitt. Councilman Greg Brown, who will retire from the council in March, gave $400 worth of leftover lawn sign frames to Voss and $100 each to Davitt and Olhasso. Councilman Dave Spence gave $100 each to Voss, Olhasso and Davitt.
Davitt and Voss have traded $100 donations, and Olhasso gave $500 to her own campaign.
State Sen. Carol Liu, also a former mayor of La Cañada, is apparently hedging her bets. She gave to all four candidates actively raising funds — $250 each to Voss and Olhasso and $200 each to Davitt and Kamar — though only three can win.
Members of the Planning Commission also divided their support. Commissioner Michael Cahill gave $250 each to Davitt and Kamar, while Commissioner Jonathan Curtis gave $100 each to Davitt, Olhasso and Voss.
Design Commission member Jon Moldafsky gave $500 to Olhasso, and Commissioner Gordon Hoopes gave $100 to Voss.
Public Works and Traffic Commission member Chuck Gelhaar, Davitt’s treasurer, gave Davitt $800 and $200 each to Voss and Olhasso.
Former Planning Commissioner Fred Engler gave $100 to Davitt.
Sunder Ramani, who recently ran for a state Assembly seat in Glendale, gave $250 to Davitt, $150 to Voss and $100 to Olhasso.
LCUSD Governing Board member Jeanne Broberg gave $100 each to Davitt, Olhasso and Voss.
Former City Manager Gaby Pryor chipped in $150 for Olhasso.
Businesses spread the wealth
Local business owners and real estate developers have also played a role shaping campaign war chests.
Davitt, who manages real estate for the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, has received support from developers Ted Slaught, Gary Zentmyer and Ted Snyder — $500, $200 and $100, respectively.
Zentmyer also gave $200 to Olhasso.
Bruce Taylor, owner of Taylor’s Steakhouse, gave $500 to Davitt and $250 to Kamar.
Linda Taix of TAIX Workout Studio gave $300 to Olhasso and $200 to Kamar.
Former LCF Chamber Board chairmen Joe Thompson and Barbara Marshall also showed up on contributor lists. Thompson gave $350 to Olhasso and $100 to Voss, and Marshall gave $150 to Voss.
Others give big
In addition to business and political donors, candidates appear to have found the bulk of their support from interpersonal relationships with La Cañada Flintridge residents.
Davitt jump-started his campaign with a $10,000 loan — quickly paid back once contributions started flowing in — from Michael Powers, a local resident and friend of Davitt’s dating back to their days attending Loyola Marymount University.
Attorney Brad Schwartz gave $1,000 to Olhasso and $250 to Voss.
Married couple Charles Kinney and Mary Pinola, who have been active in a number of community boards and activities, gave $1,000 to Voss and $250 each to Davitt and Olhasso.
Heather Haaga, who is chair of the Descanso Gardens Board of Trustees, joined husband Paul Haaga in donating $2.1 million to build the Sturt Haaga Gallery there and also gave to candidates: $500 to Olhasso and $250 each to Voss and Kamar.
Local schools boosters also made significant donations to council candidates, in large part helping Kamar and Olhasso.
Kamar, who has been active with the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation, received $250 from LCFEF member Craig Mazin through his company and $300 from local PTA organizer Meredie Heaton.
Olhasso received $150 from LCFEF Endowment Trustee Rene La Bran and another $150 from former LCUSD Governing Board member Meredith Reynolds.
CORRECTION: This story contains changes to an earlier version posted March 2 that under-tallied some candidates' fundraising totals.