The two incumbents in the race for the Mountain View City Council this year have raised far more money than their opponents in their bid for reelection, swiftly bumping up against the city's campaign spending limit more than a month before Election Day.
Councilwoman Lisa Matichak took the lead in raising $27,543 so far this year, followed closely behind by Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga with $27,140, according to financial disclosure forms released last week. The two were followed by former Councilwoman Pat Showalter and Alex Nunez, who raised $22,573 and $20,724, respectively.
The disclosure forms cover contributions and spending through Sept. 19. As with past elections, council members have signed onto the city's voluntary expenditure limit, which is set this year at $27,094.
Matichak was one of the first candidates to announce her candidacy last year, and began taking donations in May. Along with the early start, her campaign committee was already sitting on $6,025 in funds from previous years, adding to her war chest and giving her a sizable lead over her competition. Her largest single contribution this year was from the California Real Estate Political Action Committee -- financed by the California Association of Realtors -- which gave her $2,000.
The realtor group has spent $3.8 million between July and Sept. 19 on numerous state Senate and Assembly races across California, along with smaller contributions in local City Council races. The organization gave similar donations to Palo Alto City Councilman Greg Tanaka and Cupertino City Councilman Hung Wei.
Matichak's campaign received significant support from union groups as well, according to campaign finance documents. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 332 and the Plumbers, Steamfitters & Refrigeration Fitters Local 393 each donated $1,000, while the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council chipped in $300. The region's building trades association, the Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Building & Construction trades Council, donated $300 to her campaign.
From individuals, Matichak received contributions from Dropbox Chief Legal Officer Bart Volkmer ($1,000) and Chris Umminger ($1,000), Santa Clara Valley Water District board member Gary Kremen ($600) and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian ($250). She also received $250 from state Senate candidate Josh Becker's campaign committee.
Abe-Koga's campaign activity is similar to Matichak's, holding over $9,297 in campaign funds from previous years and winning the support of local unions. She received $1,000 each from the same two unions as Matichak, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 332 and the Plumbers, Steamfitters & Refrigeration Fitters Local 393, along with a $1,000 contribution from Assemblyman Evan Low.
Mountain View residents who gave to Abe-Koga's reelection campaign include Bart Volkmer ($1,000), school board member Laura Blakely ($250) and former Mountain View Police Chief Scott Vermeer ($250). She also received $500 from Perry Palmer, an investor in Palo Alto, and Anne Im, a program officer at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Showalter's biggest financial supporter on the campaign trail has been the local firefighters' union, MV Firefighters local 1965, which contributed $2,500 to her campaign. She also received $1,000 each from the same trade unions that supported Matichak and Abe-Koga, and received $250 from Joe Simitian.
Top individual donations to Showalter's campaign came from Mountain View residents Janet Hayes ($1,000), Deb Henigson ($500), Max Beckman-Harned ($500) and Carol Rhoades ($500). She received $250 from Thida Cornes and $200 from Greg Unangst, both of whom had previously run for the City Council.
Nunez, a community activist, reported raising $20,724 as of Sept. 19. Some of his biggest supporters come from Mountain View's mobile home communities, particularly a $2,499 donation from Sarah Georg, a Sahara Mobile Village resident, and $250 from Trey Bornmann, former president of the Mountain View Mobile Home Alliance. Mobile home residents have been politically active in recent years, pushing for renter protections that would rein in large rent increases for mobile home owners and renters.
Nunez also chipped in $1,010 to his own campaign, and received donations from resident Jeffrey Grafton ($1,000), Miguel Sanchez ($900) and Paul Davis ($500). He received $500 from former Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, who is also running for the Mountain View City Council.
Paul Roales, a Waymo engineer, raised $14,415, largely paid for by himself. He loaned his campaign $10,000, bolstered by a handful of individual contributions. The largest, $500, came from Marcus Muinzer, a resident of West Lafayette, Indiana, a city where Roales went to college and previously served as a councilman.
Former Councilman Lenny Siegel, who began soliciting donations in May, has mostly financed his campaign through donations between $200 and $500, many coming from either community activists or engineers working at local tech companies. His biggest contributions, of $500, come from Janet Werkman, a fellow member of the Mountain View Housing Justice Coalition, and Jon Wiley, a senior director at Google.
Smaller notable contributions came from John Igoe ($189), Google's real estate director, and Jeral Poskey ($100), the company's transportation head. Maria Marroquin, executive director of the Mountain View Day Worker Center, gave $100 to Siegel's campaign.
Lieber's campaign had raised $14,368 as of Sept. 19, receiving $1,000 each from the same unions that supported Matichak, Abe-Koga and Showalter. She also received $2,000 from Charisma Machado, a retired resident of San Antonio, Texas, and $2,000 from Dorothy Polash, an activist living in Portola Valley.
Lieber received $500 each from Nunez, and Karen Grove, a member of the Menlo Park Housing Commission.
John Lashlee, a member of the Silicon Valley Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), raised $12,241 in his campaign. Like Nunez, Lashlee's biggest contributor was Sarah Georg, who contributed $2,499 to his campaign, along with sizable donations from Alexander Kindel ($2,176), a programmer at Google, and Johannes Muenzel ($2,003) a fellow member of the Silicon Valley DSA.
Lashlee contributed $2,225 to his own campaign committee.
Trailing the pack on campaign fundraising is Jose Gutierrez, a Mountain View Whisman School District board member. He raised $5,500 in campaign funds as of Sept. 19, $3,000 of which came from himself.
Gutierrez received significant support from members of the school community, including donations from former school board members Bill Lambert ($1,000), Fiona Walter ($150) and Steve Olson ($150). He also received $250 each from Guillermina Gutierrez and Joe Gutierrez, residents of Laredo, Texas.
Lopsided spending, unusual purchases
The biggest campaign spender as of Sept. 19 was Nunez, who had racked up bills in excess of what his campaign had raised as of Sept. 19. His spending totaled $22,400, nearly double the next-highest spender, according to campaign documents.
Nunez' campaign expenses include printing and postage costs, which was used to send out full-page mailers to city residents, as well as campaign signs.
The next highest spender was Paul Roales at $11,584 -- a large majority of his campaign funds. Most of Roales' money didn't go straight into signs or campaign literature: campaign finance documents show he spent $6,885 on face masks. Roales said he believes his campaign has distributed more masks than the city of Mountain View.
Spending among the rest of the field of candidates has been modest. Abe-Koga has spent $9,989, Showalter has spent $7,414, and Matichak has spent $6,978. Spending the least so far has been Lashlee ($5,721), Gutierrez ($4,975), Lieber ($4,101) and Siegel ($3,142).