By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Former Rohnert Park City Manager Carl Leivo, trying to win a City Council seat in the city that he was fired from five years ago, is the top spender so far in this year’s race.
Leivo spent $14,491 during the reporting period for July 1 to Sept. 30, according to the latest campaign finance reports.
He faces four other candidates in the race for two City Council seats.
His campaign account — like most of the other candidates, nearly exhausted entering the election’s final month — was thousands of dollars larger than any of his competitors, the closest of whom had raised about $8,300.
That was John Borba, Chairman of the city’s Planning Commission, although $7,500 was a personal loan to his campaign. He had $1,678 left in the bank.
Likewise, Leivo has financed his campaign almost entirely with a $16,200 loan to himself; his only other donor was a family member who gave him $500.
“That way I can be independent and not be subject to being influenced by contributors,” he said.
Leivo said he plans to invest more in his campaign.
“I intend to do additional publications and fliers,” he said.
Leivo is followed in spending by Mayor Pam Stafford, whose seat is one of two in play next month. She has spent $11,876 during the latest reporting period.
She took in $5,320 and owes $7,520 in campaign debts. Her finance report shows she has $1,568 in cash on hand.
Stafford acknowledged she is at a financial disadvantage next to Leivo and will need to raise more money, but said she has a solid crew of volunteers campaigning for her.
“I have a lot of people helping me, too, I’m going to be OK,” she said. “I’m not going to be able to do a bunch of mailers or anything like that.”
One campaign dynamic that neither Leivo’s nor Stafford’s finance reports reflect is spending by independent committees. Such committees can’t give money to candidates but can campaign for or against them.
A committee funded by Codding Enterprises to oppose Borba and Leivo and support Stafford and planning commissioner Amy Ahanotu has spent $9,200 on mailers targeting Leivo and urging votes for her and Ahanotu.
“I’m very appreciative,” Stafford said Thursday. “I didn’t know who was doing it until I checked” the finance reports.
But Stafford has in turn been sharply targeted by a big-spending committee named Citizens for Change, whose strategy at least indirectly, aids Leivo. Its fliers have slammed Stafford’s decisions on the council in language that echoes Leivo’s criticisms of her on the campaign trail. It has spent $17,122 so far.
Also, Leivo and Borba have been endorsed by the Rohnert Park Public Safety Officers Association, which has spent as much as $35,000 in some recent elections and sent its first capmpaign fliers out on Wednesday.
Ahanotu, a first time candidate, had taken in $5,478 for his campaign, $3,800 of which he loaned to himself. He has spent $8,188 to date and owes $11,936, his campaign reports show.
“I’ve got people giving me money and I’m going to be having a fundraiser sometimes this month,” he said.
Trailing in fundraising and spending was Roger Schwanke, a retired Rohnert Park police officer who was the last candidate to enter the race.
Schwanke took in $3,488 — $1,400 that he gave himself — and spent $3,079.