Government / Politics

Local politicians report last quarter campaign contributions

A look at income and expenditures for ballot measure committees and candidates running for the San Benito County Board of Supervisors and Hollister City Council.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Feb. 17 to include information on The Committee for Better Government.

Local election candidates and committees raised over $100,000 in the last quarter of 2020. The deadline to report contributions was Jan. 31. Candidates who did not report their contributions received in the last quarter—from Oct. 18 to Dec. 31—are subject to a $10 per day fine by the state until contributions are reported. 

San Juan Bautista City Council members and candidates are not required to report contributions if they received less than $1,000. Deputy City Clerk Trish Paetz confirmed no reports have been filed with the city. 

San Benito County Supervisors

In his last quarter report, newly elected District 2 Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki reported $1,948 in contributions to his campaign. He reported receiving $19,098 in total contributions and $9,700 in loans during the 2020 calendar year. 

According to election documents, he received contributions of $250 from two local companies, West Coast Rubber Recycling and West Gateway, Inc. A third company, Independent Recycling Services, which according to state documents is based in Oakland, also contributed $250. The officers of Independent Recycling Services reside in San Benito County, according to state records. 

Kosmicki also received a contribution of $250 from Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez and a $150 contribution from Hollister City Councilman Rolan Resendiz. He also received $250 from Vince Pryor, who according to state records is an officer of West Gateway, Inc. 

Wayne Norton, who ran against Kosmicki for the District 2 seat, reported $13,930 in contributions to his campaign. He reported receiving $63,219 total during the 2020 calendar year. 

According to records, Norton received the majority of his contributions in the last three months from unions, including $10,000 from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and $3,200 from Plumbers, Steamfitters Local 393. He received $500 from the Democrat, Republican, Independent Voter Education (DRIVE) Political Action Committee.

District 4 San Benito County Supervisor Bob Tiffany reported $1,097 in contributions. He raised $23,281 during 2020. His largest individual contributor is Christine Breen at $500, followed by Karen Fink and Stephen Weber at $100 each. 

San Benito County Planning Commissioner Robert Gibson, who ran for the District 4 supervisorial seat in November, reported $2,500 in contributions, all from SEIU Local 521 Candidate PAC.

Dan Valcazar, another District 4 candidate, reported $1,789 in contributions in the last quarter. He raised a total of $30,473 for his campaign, of which $25,500 were loans. Only two contributors are listed on the form for the last quarter—Fernando Jimenez for $1,000 and Ellen Fu for $200. 

Mike Mansmith, yet another resident running in District 4, reported a contribution of $5,769 made by himself after the election. 

District 1 Supervisor Mark Medina, who won his re-election bid in the March primary election, reported receiving $1,300 between July 1 and Dec. 31. JRG Leasing and JRG Attorneys at Law contributed $500 each, and San Benito Heating & Sheetmetal, Inc. gave $300. 

According to state records, JRG Leasing’s managers include Salinas residents Aaron Johnson, Paul Rovella and Jason Retterer. All three are also members of JRG Attorneys at Law, according to the law firm’s website. Robert Rodriguez Sr. is listed as the owner of San Benito Heating and Sheetmetal. 

Like Medina, District 5 Supervisor Bea Gonzales was elected in the March primary election. In her semi-annual statement, she reported $941 in contributions between July 1 and Dec. 31. Her report does not include a list of contributors. Her expenditures include a $120 annual membership to Costco, ink and paper. She also gave $100 each to the Friends of the San Benito County Free Library and NALEO Education Fund

Hollister City Council

Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez reported $3,567 in contributions during the last quarter. He received $500 contributions from Francisco Barragan, Gary Clifford and Vincent Pryor. He also received $300 from San Benito Sheet Metal, $275 from Catherine Scattini, $250 each from West Coast Rubber Recycling and West Gateway Inc., and $200 from Michael Pekin.

Sal Mora, who ran against Velazquez, reported $7,395 in contributions. Major donors included Hugh Bikle and Marilyn Ferreira with $2,500 each. Two PACs—DRIVE committee and Build Jobs PAC—contributed $500 each, Kevin Henderson gave $400, and Mike Hernandez and the Plumbers Steamfitters & Refrigeration Fitters Local 393 each gave $250.

In his expenditures, Mora reported paying Bikle $1,305 for a billboard advertisement.

The Committee for Better Government, whose officers are listed as Ted Davis and Jack Murphy, reported receiving $21,850 in contributions in the last quarter. All contributions were from Davis. The committee reported spending $6,250 on mail in support of Mora, another $6,250 on mail in opposition of Velazquez, and $8,350 on mail in support of Measure N. 

Though the committee reported receiving and spending over $20,000 starting on Oct. 19, it also submitted a statement of no activity between July 1-Dec. 31. According to the form 425, no activity means no contributions received and no expenditures made during that period. The form was submitted on Feb. 10.

Julio Rodriguez, who ran for Hollister City Council District 4, reported four contributions totaling $799. The largest contributor was Bhandal Bros, Inc with $500. Maninder Singh is the owner of Bhandal Bros, a trucking company, according to state records.

Carol and Steve Johnson contributed $100, and Independent Recycling Services and Hollister City Councilman Rolan Resendiz each donated $99. Candidates are not required to name contributors who give less than $100. 

Though he was unsuccessful in his campaign for a seat on the City Council, Rodriguez was later appointed to the District 2 seat on the San Benito County Planning Commission by Kosmicki. 

District 4 Councilman Tim Burns, who won against Rodriguez, has not filed his last quarter contributions, according to city records. 

Councilman Rick Perez, who defeated Jose Fernandez for the District 1 seat, raised $6,526 including $4,212 in loans. Perez received $500 from Bhandal Bros, $300 from RJR Environmental Professional Services, $250 from Vincent Pryor and $100 from Natasha Wist. The remaining $1,164 in monetary contributions was not reported, as the individual contributions were less than $100. Robert Rodriguez Jr. is listed as the owner of RJR Environmental Professional Services, according to state records. He was appointed to the District 1 seat on the San Benito County Planning Commission on Jan. 12.

According to city records, Fernandez has not filed his last quarter contributions.

Though he was not up for reelection, Councilman Rolan Resendiz raised $2,730 in the last quarter of 2020. He reported receiving $300 from San Benito Heating and Sheetmetal, $250 from Vincent Pryor, and $100 each from Richard and Barbara Montag. He also reported receiving $1,980 in individual contributions of less than $100. 

Ballot Measure Committees

Protect San Benito, which campaigned against Measure N, the Strada Verde Innovation Park project, reported $31,800 in contributions in the last quarter. The committee raised a total of $37,296.48 in 2020. The biggest contributor is Charles Knowles, who donated $25,000 one week before the Nov. 3 election. Another major contributor was Carolyn Tognetti with $4,500. The organization also received $1,400 worth of campaign consultation from Green Foothills, an environmental conservation organization.

Records show that of the $26,848 in payments made during this period, $14,967.49 were to President Mary Hsia-Coron, including $1,000 as a stipend for canvassing. The rest of the expenses paid to her were for website costs, mailers, flyers, postcards and lawn signs.

In total, the committee reported spending $3,660 in canvassing stipends and also transferred $5,500 to Preserve Our Rural Communities, of which Hsia-Coron is the treasurer. 

Vote No on N, No More Traffic and Unsafe Developments, another committee opposed to Measure N whose officer was Guadalupe Sanchez, raised $8,345. Its major contributor was Kenneth Irachera with $5,209 worth of mailer services reported on Nov. 2. The committee also reported contributions from Kasra Ajir ($1,000), David Serena ($500), and Jacqueline Morris-Lopez ($250), prior to her appointment to the San Juan Bautista Planning Commission.

The committee reported expenditures of $16,719, including $1,149 to R T Burns, Inc. for calling services and $1,812 to Maria Martinez for professional services. According to records, the committee had an outstanding balance with Jose Barajas Consulting for $8,374 as of Dec. 31. 

County resident Frank Barragan filed an expenditure statement in which he reported spending $10,000 for legal services from the Law Office of Jonathan Weissglass in 2020 in opposition to Measure N. 

San Benito County Residents for Job Creation committee campaigned in support of Measure N. The committee, whose listed officers are Sean P. Welch and David Lazarus, reported $12,400 in monetary contributions and raised $880,762 during the 2020 calendar year. Newport Pacific Land Company and Affiliated Entities, the developer that proposed Strada Verde, was the sole contributor to the committee. 

The committee reported $170,513 in expenditures, including $34,750 to Nevada-based Griffiths Olson Company Consulting for canvassing.

In their semiannual reports, San Benito Superior Court Judge Jose Omar Rodriguez and Sheriff Darren Thompson state they didn’t receive any contributions between July 1 and Dec. 31. John Freeman and Valerie Egland, San Benito County Board of Supervisors District 2 candidates in the March primary election, also reported no contributions. 

Other related BenitoLink articles:

Election 2020: Campaign contributions for Hollister and San Juan Bautista political races

Election 2020: Campaign finance contributions for SBC Supervisors Districts 2 and 4

Election 2020: Campaign finance contributions for local ballot measures

 

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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.