By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.