By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
In a Sebastopol City Council election perceived as a referendum on the controversial CVS Pharmacy-Chase Bank project, marijuana dispensary executive and CVS opponent Robert Jacob has raised and spent more money than all other candidates combined.
Through Oct. 20, Jacob has raised $32,004 and spent $26,004, the most ever by a candidate in Sebastopol history, according to disclosure statements filed Thursday.
“It says that people are very motivated about there being a new voice on the council,” said Jacob.
Others in Sebastopol, however, feel it is out of line for a city in which elections are usually decided by candidates campaigning door-to-door.
“It is certainly an indication of support for Robert, but an inappropriately large amount for a race like Sebastopol’s,” said Larry Robinson, a former city councilman and longtime political activist who has endorsed Jacob. “And where it is trending should cause everyone concern.”
Challenger John Eder is second in the money race, with $11,306 in donations and expenditures of $7,473.
Incumbent Councilwoman Kathleen Shaffer has raised $10,328 and spent $6,631.
Challenger Kathy Austin, a former mayor, has raised $5,545 and spent $3,202.
Challenger Colleen Fernald stated she will receive and spend less than $1,000.
The financial disclosure statements cover the period of July 1 to Oct. 20.
Driving the high level of interest in the election is the City Council’s approval of a controversial plan to build a CVS Pharmacy and Chase Bank branch at the site of the vacant Pellini Chevrolet dealership.
The council in a 3-2 vote overturned a rejection by the city’s Design Review Board and approved the design by Armstrong Development, with certain conditions.
It was the final approval needed for the project by the Sacramento developer, which wants to build a 14,576-square-foot CVS Pharmacy and 4,327-square-foot Chase Bank branch, at a cost of $10 million.
The two top money-raisers, Jacob and Eder, oppose CVS, while Shaffer and Austin support it. Fernald also opposes it.
CVS opponents are hoping the project may still be derailed by a different City Council.
“They hope it can in fact be stopped, but in a larger picture, people against the CVS are looking for candidates that would stop that happening in the future, not to have another developer come along and put in a similar project,” said Mayor Guy Wilson, who voted in favor of the CVS project and is not seeking re-election.
Donors for Jacob, 35, who is founder and executive director of the nonprofit Peace In Medicine medical marijuana dispensary, include Democratic Assemblyman Michael Allen’s election committee, $500; an official with California NORML, which advocates legalizing marijuana, $100; the Democratic Central Committee, $100; Western Sonoma County Rural Alliance, $100; Sonoma County Conservation Action, $600; and Progressive Democrats of Sonoma County, $100.
Jacob has also received $1,000 from Eric Larson of Sebastopol, $1,100 from Angie Monette of Guerneville, $1,000 from Virginia Fraser of Forestville, $1,000 from Peggie Hernandez of Turlock, $1,000 from Jane Nielson of Sebastopol, and $1,050 from Ocean Song Rogoff of Sebastopol.
In addition, former Sebastopol mayor Craig Litwin is donating his consulting services, $3,500.
Eder, 59, a representative of Boise Mobile Equipment in Boise, Idaho, received $100 from the Western Sonoma County Rural Alliance and $100 from Progressive Democrats of Sonoma County. Eder didn’t receive any individual donations of more than $500.
The donors for Shaffer, 60, who is retired, include the California Real Estate PAC of Los Angeles, $1,500, and the Sonoma County Democratic Central Committee, $100. She received no other individual donations of more than $250.
The donors for Austin, 60, who is an architect, also include $1,500 from the California Real Estate PAC of Los Angeles and $250 from the Sonoma County Political Alliance. She received no other donations of more than $500.
Sustainable Sebastopol raised $3,186 and spent $3,114. It spent $1,281 in support of Shaffer and $1,281 in support of Austin.
Responsible Citizens for Sebastopol, which supports Measure Y, the half-percent sales tax increase in Sebastopol, raised $1,550 and spent $1,154.