Democracy is alive in Eureka! A dozen residents have thrown their hats into the ring, hoping to serve the city in public office with a seat on the city council or the mayorship.
In recent weeks local doorknobs and mailboxes have been showered with glossy campaign postcards, brochures and pamphlets, and those things aren’t free.
The latest campaign statements show that this field of candidates has collectively raised more than $100,000 through Sept. 22 in hopes of spreading their respective messages.
Two of those candidates loaned themselves pretty good-sized chunks of money (one in particular), while another two didn’t report any fundraising at all. (Both plan to self-finance, for the most part, while keeping their expenditures under $2,000, so the state doesn’t require them to fill out a Form 460 campaign statement.)
Historically, in Humboldt County, conservative candidates have enjoyed an economic advantage over their more progressive opponents, and this year the pattern holds.
The max anyone can donate to a single candidate in Eureka is $500, and the major benefactors to conservative candidates this cycle are Freshwater residents Robert and Debra McBeth, co-owners of O&M Industries. They’re backing one horse in each of the city’s four races.
The major benefactors to progressive candidates this time around, as in most years, are labor unions.
Below we take a look at the fundraising stats in each of the four races.
This is easily the most lopsided race, money-wise, in Eureka this year. Anthony Mantova, owner of Mantova’s 2 Street Music, raised $21,759 by Sept. 22, making him the top fundraiser in any race thus far.
Mantova received $500 apiece from Rob and Debra McBeth and another $500 from their son, Michael. He’d spent less than half of his money — $10,871 — by the reporting deadline, giving himself plenty of dough for last-minute campaigning.
You can read Mantova’s candidate statement here.
His closest — and really only — competitor in in the money race is Leslie Castellano, executive and artistic director of Synapsis. She brought in a little over a third of Mantova’s total with $7,947, including $500 contributions from the Central Labor Council of Humboldt, the Building and Construction Trades Union, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5.
Castellano has also been pretty frugal thus far, spending $3,589 out of her war chest. Here’s Castellano’s campaign statement.
The other two candidates is Ward 1 — Texas barbecue enthusiast/Johnson Auto Electric owner Caroline Brooks (campaign statement) and former county code enforcement investigator Hailey Lamb (campaign statement) — are both self-financing and running their campaigns on the cheap.
In the race that has generated the most drama, Certified Public Accountant and former Eureka Planning Commissioner John Fullerton accumulated the most money with $21,178, though nearly half of that ($9,924) came via a loan that Fullerton granted to his own campaign.
Fullerton’s wife, Gail, donated $500, as did his daughter/campaign treasurer, Ashley. The McBeths, Robert and Debra, chipped in another $1,000 ($500 apiece). And the Humboldt Builders Exchange PAC also gave the max contribution.
Fullerton’s campaign has spent $13,934 of those funds.
Incumbent City Councilmember Natalie Arroyo, who also works at the Redwood Community Action Agency and is a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, stands in second place at this point with $10,252 raised and $5,831 spent.
Her $500 donors include the Building and Construction Trades Council of Humboldt-Del Norte Counties, the Central Labor Council of Humboldt-Del Norte Counties AFL-CIO, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and the United Food and Commercial Workers. Arroyo also has the support of our Democratic representatives Rep. Jared Huffman, whose 2018 campaign fund chipped in $500, and State Senator Mike McGuire, whose campaign donated $250.
Arroyo’s candidate statement can be read here.
The third candidate in this race, community service volunteer Jeannie Breslin, is not far behind Arroyo with $8,255 raised, though she’s already spent $7,725 of that. Her top donors are Eureka resident Jeff Lamore, who gave $400, a woman named Kate McCay, who was listed as “PayPal subscription” and gave $337.75, and former Eureka Councilmember Melinda Ciarabellini, who chipped in $200.
This race seems to be generating the least amount of drama, perhaps because both incumbent Councilmember Kim Bergel and challenger Joe Bonino seem to care more about the city than they do about winning.
Despite arguing that, “Donations don’t control how people vote,” Bonino went ahead and collected $5,372 in donations to his campaign, and he personally loaned his effort another $881.
Long employed as a payroll tech up at Humboldt State University, Bonino got the McBeth nod, with $500 apiece from Rob and Debra, plus $500 contributions from the Humboldt Builders Exchange PAC, L.A. resident Terry Hughes and Eureka resident Eugene Senestraro. Bonino had spent just $2,151 through the Sept. 22 cutoff date.
Bergel, who works with special needs students at Eureka High School, has raised $5,131 and spent $1,698, making this a tight race, money-wise. Her $500 donors include Natalie Giacomini of San Geronimo (in Marin County), the Building and Construction Trades Council of Humboldt-Del Norte Counties, Michael G. Mullen of Eureka, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local, and the Humboldt Democratic Central Committee.
In this three-way race, Take Back Eureka founder Michelle Costantine and Arcata Economic Development Corporation Program Director Susan Seaman are pretty much tied, with the former bringing in $10,585 to the latter’s $10,914.
Incumbent Councilmember and Christian pastor Heidi Messner trails in fundraising with $4,802.
Costantine had spent virtually all the money she’d raised by the Sept. 22 reporting date, with just $261 left in her coffers. Seaman still had $4,198 in the bank and Messner had $3,425.
The McBeths are backing Costantine, here, with their $1,000. Her other $500 donors include Eureka residents Aaron Dean and Darryl Blackwell (her father-in-law), Petaluma resident Loretta Mateik, and the Humboldt Builders Exchange PAC.
Seaman’s $500 patrons include Ben Brown of Eureka, John O’Conner of Samoa, the Central Labor Council of Humboldt-Del Norte Counties AFL-CIO, the United Food Commercial Workers Local 5 PAC, and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Humboldt-Del Norte Counties.
And Messner’s $500 backers include Eureka residents Brian Dunlap, Chuck Hubler, Becky Hubler, and Jon O’Conner.
There will be one more set of financial disclosure forms before Election Day. They’re due on Oct. 25 and will cover the period between Sept. 23 and Oct. 20. We now have less than a month to go before Election Day, which is on Tuesday, Nov. 6.