WatchSonoma Watch

Sanders’ $40K loan shakes up supervisor hopefuls’ fundraising


Sonoma Mayor Joanne Sanders loaned herself $40,000 for her bid to replace Valerie Brown on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, an amount that catapults Sanders to the top of the current fund-raising standings.

Joanne Sanders

In addition to the loan, Sanders received $4,605 in donations for the reporting period covering Jan. 1 through March 17, according to her campaign finance report, which she said was mailed by Thursday’s deadline.

After expenses, Sanders reported having $40,998 on hand as of March 17. That amount is the most among the six candidates running for the 1st District supervisorial seat.

“I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to win this race,” Sanders said Friday.

Sanders’ cash balance was about $7,000 more than what Santa Rosa councilwoman Susan Gorin reported having, and about $9,000 more than Santa Rosa councilman John Sawyer.

Sanders also had more cash available than any of her Sonoma Valley rivals, including Boyes Hot Springs communications consultant Gina Cuclis, who reported having $18,659 as of March 17.

But unlike her opponents, Sanders had yet to spend significant amounts on her campaign — less than $1,000 as of March 17, according to her finance report. She also hasn’t received near the number of individual donations that some of her rivals have.

The loan amount also is less than what other candidates have collected cumulatively since they started raising money last year. Using that formula, Sawyer has raised the most with $53,292, followed by Cuclis at $51,680 and Gorin with $45,605.

Those amounts exclude personal loans and non-monetary contributions.

Sanders, who is president of Bolt Staffing, a business she owns with her husband, said Friday she loaned herself the money because she was a late-entry in into the race and didn’t have time to wait for donations to start coming in.

“Rather than campaigning the last six months I was running a full-time job,” she said.

But Cuclis questioned Sanders’ strategy.

“The fact she starts with this big loan really raises questions of, ‘Does she really have anyone out there supporting her, or not?’” Cuclis said Friday.

Sanders said she “probably” will pay back the loan using donations people make to her campaign. Aside from her job, Sanders said she earns less than $300 a month serving as Sonoma’s mayor.

“I intend to pay myself back,” she said.

Sanders’ largest contributors included a $1,500 donation from Tom Rouse, who is a Sonoma councilman and sales manager for POM Wonderful, and $1,000 each from Bill Hammett and Mary Ann Sebastiani-Cuneo.

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek.moore@pressdemocrat.com.

12 Responses to “Sanders’ $40K loan shakes up supervisor hopefuls’ fundraising”

  1. Missy says:

    I like her. And I like Sawyer too.

  2. Citizens says:

    When will you people get off simple voting for Democrats. I am an Independent Republican and would suggest you vote for more moderates to put in office.

    Let’s face reality Democrats in Sonoma County are equivalent to the Moderate Republicans in any other state.

  3. Citizens says:

    Money grubber – as a consultant, I would differ in your low IQ argument. Lack of jobs skills is not a requirement to be a consultant.

  4. Reality Check says:

    Possibly Gina Cuclis is the most qualified candidate. I don’t know her. But I did check out her website and list of client endorsements. Not very encouraging. They’re virtually all government agencies, councils, or non-profits that feed off government.

    It’s a rare candidate that has had a job in the private sector. That disconnect from what is reality for most of us is troubling.

  5. 1st District Observer says:

    “Joanne Sanders is a fake Democrat”

    It is a testament to the low opinion she holds of the voters in the 1st District that she tries to palm herself off as a Democrat. She changed her registration just a few years ago, probably on the advice of Herb Williams, who advises Republicans to run as “moderate” Democrats, because you can’t get elected dog-catcher in this county with an R in front of your name. Phony Dems like Sanders should stop insulting us, and come out under their true colors.

  6. Comparison Shopping for County Supe says:

    This might be a good time to mention that two of the big money raisers in the 1st District race are unemployed…Susan Gorin has never held a job and Cuclis is a consultant without any consulting work.
    Both spend all their time out campaigning for office. So what skills do they offer? Apparently they know how to tie in with the local political machine politics but why would a reasonable voter support either to help manager and oversee an organization with thousands of employees and a billion dollar budget?

    I don’t know Sanders but she has a successful business and is creating jobs. Her background suggests she is far more qualified to be a County Supervisor.

  7. Check Your Facts says:

    A simple Google search reveals how wrong Money Grubber is. http://www.CuclisPR.com

  8. Money Grubber says:


    MOST people are their own biggest fan. I’ll bet you can relate to that.

  9. Ryan says:

    Joanne Sanders’ biggest endorsement comes from 1 of her colleagues on the Sonoma City Council. She has to double space her endorsement list to make her supporter base look bigger than it actually is.

  10. Proofreader says:

    No Worries, Joan will simply pay back the loan without spending it like she did when she lost the last primary to Noreen Evans in 2010.


    It’s a common ploy that candidates with money use, to try to prime the pump for more money and feign how well they’re doing.

  11. Money Grubber says:

    Staff Writer Derek Moore identifies the employment of Sanders, yet FAILS to identify the employment of “consultant” Gina Cuclis.

    Does Gina Cuclis actually work?
    Does Gina Cuclis have any job skills?

    Current employment in any field proves something. The title of “consultant” says nothing.

    Never vote for anyone who claims to be a “consultant” because its usually a cover for unemployment and lack of current job skills.

  12. doodles says:

    So, she is her own biggest fan.