WatchSonoma Watch

Fundraising pace quickens in 1st District race



With less than a month until Election Day, the two candidates vying for the 1st

John Sawyer and Susan Gorin

District Board of Supervisors seat are on a fundraising and spending spree.

Santa Rosa City Council Members John Sawyer and Susan Gorin have pulled in $472,000 between them in their bid for the county seat, which encompasses east Santa Rosa and Sonoma Valley. Sawyer brought in about $295,000 of that.

Sawyer’s contributions of $108,636 since July eclipsed Gorin’s by almost $36,000. But Gorin had about $8,000 more cash on hand as the campaigns enter their final swing.

The large amount of money pouring into the race reflects its importance to the county’s political future. It also is the only board seat on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Sawyer said his fundraising shows that he has a broad base of support, including from business interests that he said consider him the best candidate to create jobs and get the economy going.

“The fact my contributions reflect that is not surprising to me,” Sawyer said Friday.

But Gorin said she has more grass-roots support and that Sawyer is taking money from interest groups she claimed are “trying to buy this election.”

Campaign finance records due Friday revealed that Sawyer raised a total of $102,964, plus an additional $5,672 in non-monetary donations, since July 1, for a total of $108,636 this reporting period. That brought his year-to-date figure to $294,463, which includes a $16,300 loan.

Sawyer spent $75,623, leaving him with a cash balance of $37,180.

Gorin collected $70,129, plus an additional $2,600 in non-monetary contributions, giving her a total of $72,729. Her year-to-date figure is $177,779, which includes a $10,000 loan.

Gorin spent $38,122, leaving her with a cash balance of $45,086.

The pair’s fundraising doesn’t match the torrid pace of the 2010 contest between Petaluma Council Members Pam Torliatt and David Rabbitt, who by this time had raised nearly $600,000 on their way to setting a new spending record for a supervisorial race in Sonoma County. But it’s still a lot of money for a county seat that traditionally has gone to someone from Sonoma Valley.

The 1st District includes the Sonoma Valley east to the Napa County line, Sonoma and the unincorporated communities of Kenwood and Glen Ellen, and eastern Santa Rosa. The district was expanded last year to include more of Fountaingrove and Bennett Valley in Santa Rosa, so that now a majority of the district’s voters — 52 percent — reside in Santa Rosa.

Regardless of who wins, the county board soon will have a majority of supervisors who are based in Santa Rosa.

Sawyer’s support from business interests since July includes three separate donations from the owners of Syar Industries in Napa totaling $7,500; $2,500 from Chavez Trucking in Dixon; $2,500 from Ghilotti Bros. Construction in San Rafael; and $2,000 from R&S Trucking in Santa Rosa.

He received $2,625 from the Sonoma County Alliance, a group of business, agriculture and labor interests; $2,625 from the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce; and $2,625 from the North Coast Citizens for a Better Economy.

California Real Estate chipped in $2,625, for a total of $7,875 that the group has contributed to Sawyer’s campaign to date. The Los Angeles-based organization also poured $10,030 into an independent expenditure committee on Monday to support Sawyer, records show.

Sawyer said he doesn’t know what the group is intending to do with the money. Such committees typically are responsible for funding negative ads and other methods of attack.

Gorin on Friday was critical of Sawyer accepting the group’s help. “Sonoma County is not for sale. We need to make that very clear,” she said.

Sawyer responded by saying that both he and Gorin were interviewed by the North Bay Association of Realtors, which he said recommended he get the money.

“She sat asking for the same money. Now that I’ve gotten it, she’s criticizing me for it. It’s sour grapes,” Sawyer said.

Gorin acknowledged participating in the interview, but she said she did not do so in an effort to get a donation from California Real Estate. Asked whether she would have turned down the money, she said, “Absolutely.”

Gorin also received donations from several special interest groups, including separate contributions of $2,625 each from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 595 in Dublin, and Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers West, based in Oakland.

Six individuals donated the maximum $2,625 to Gorin’s campaign, among them Santa Rosa attorney Donald Edgar; Scott Mindemann, the chairman, president and CEO of Vista Broadband Networks Inc. in Santa Rosa; and Warren and Janis Watkins of Healdsburg, who each separately contributed the maximum amount.

Warren Watkins is a retired math teacher who brought a lawsuit against Saggio Hills, a luxury hotel and residential development planned for Healdsburg.

Gorin also received $2,500 from Jean Schulz, widow of the late cartoonist Charles Schulz.

Sawyer’s largest individual contributors included Sonoma vintners Jeff O’Neill and Tom Larson, who kicked in $2,625 each; Wendell Trappe, owner of Forestville’s Canyon Rock Quarry, who put in $2,500; and Santa Rosa architect Neil Peoples, who contributed $2,625.

Gorin had significantly more individual donors overall, including people and organizations based in Sonoma Valley. She took in $31,285 from valley sources, representing nearly half her total in the reporting period.

Sawyer, by comparison, brought in $13,200 from the valley. He said his support there is reflected by the people who have endorsed his campaign.

“Maybe she’s hearing the same thing, but I’m hearing a groundswell of support coming from the valley,” Sawyer said. “The fact I don’t have as much financial support as she does, I can’t explain it.”

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

10 Responses to “Fundraising pace quickens in 1st District race”

  1. John Galt says:

    @Dan J Drummond

    You are astute in your observations.

    I will not be voting for John Sawyer- I do not live in the 1st Supervisorial District.

    I don’t use my real name due to the unpleasant personal attacks that liberal special interest advocates think are somehow an appropriate part of the public discourse.

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  2. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    John Galt, I live in Santa Rosa, I voted for Michael Allen last time and I get to vote for him this time. He could have moved into my neighborhood and still have been able to run in the district that includes Marin. He moved to Marin because he wanted the citizen’s to get to know him and their support. He already has Sonoma County progressive voters support because we know him well and are pleased with the job he’s done.

    I welcome Susan Gorin into my district. I just want candidates that will represent the working families interests including small business and that’s Allen and Gorin. Big corporations have proven to me that they don’t care about we workers with their fight to take away all our rights and safety nets.

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  3. Dan J Drummond says:

    @ John Galt – Based on what I just Googled, I think you are a fictional character of Ayn Rand. Is John Galt even your real name?

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  4. Dan J Drummond says:

    @ John Galt – Based on your comments, I would guess you’re a Republican that will be voting for Democrat John Sawyer.

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  5. Dan J Drummond says:

    Did this happen to anyone else? Last week someone left three large John Sawyer lawn signs on my door step. I didn’t request them and won’t use them. My wife and I are voting for Gorin.

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  6. John Galt says:

    @Dan J Drummond-

    Both Sawyer and Gorin are Democrats- so I don’t know how you make any corollary between the party registration and turn out of voters and the results of this election.

    The Republican Party of Sonoma County can not endorse non-Republicans- it is against their bylaws. They may decide to issue a statement of preference in a race with no Republican running, but that is not the same as an endorsement.

    It looks to me like Sawyer has a broader base of support- across the political spectrum. Gorin’s endorsement list reads like a who’s who of liberal Sonoma County, which is cause for concern.

    Plus, I find it a bit off-putting that she moved to run for this seat, instead of challenging Shirley Zane in her own district. Of course, with Michael Allen vacating Oakmont to rent an apartment in San Rafael (so he wouldn’t have to run against an incumbent), I guess it’s only fitting that another liberal politician would jump into Oakmont as he leaves.

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  7. James Bennett says:

    Interesting how they try to instill the notion of fundraising dollars being synonomous with success.

    Sawyer isn’t a hardcore progressive, and sometimes shows momentary semblance of common sense and ability to think for himself. But then the spine bends.

    If you spearhead this oppressive crap (Gorin), or go along with reservation…
    the green light still comes on in front of their name when they vote at Council.

    If Valerie Brown endorses Sawyer, that means he is beholden to and complicit with the Agenda.
    Gorin is already a permanant , devout fixture in Bay Area oppression.
    Exective Board Member with ABAG and installed as a board member of other agencies for her loyaly to the Plan.

    Prediction: Sawyer will “win”.
    Gorin has a bigger role in our oppression waiting for her.

    Going along pays.

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  8. Fiscal Responsibility says:

    Sawyer is bought and paid for by the public safety unions. John, if you ran a business like you spend public funds you’d be out of business. Not a big fan of Gorin, but I’ll be voting for her.

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  9. Dan J Drummond says:

    I can tell you where some of John Sawyer’s campaign contributions were wasted. Last week someone left three large John Sawyer lawn signs on my door step. And yesterday my wife saw some of the same John Sawyer lawn signs in the recycle bin of a house down the road. My wife and I are voting for Gorin, so I’m going to also recycle my three signs. The John Sawyer supporter who left the signs was not very fiscally responsible of his campaign contributions.

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  10. Dan J Drummond says:

    There are only about 55,500 registered Republicans in Sonoma County verses almost 128,000 registered Democrats, according to the June 5, 2012 election results on the Sonoma County web site. In that election, 70,000 Democrats voted (54.9%) verses 30,000 Republicans (54.2%). It doesn’t surprise me that Gorin has more individual donors, because she was endorsed by the Democratic Party. I don’t think the Republican Party has endorsed anyone yet, per their web site http://sonomagop.org/voter-guide-2012/. Based on these numbers, I think Gorin will win.

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