Among the eight city council candidates vying for a seat at Merced City Hall, Mike Murphy and Noah Lor lead the pack for financial contributions.
As of the Thursday deadline, Lor outdid the other seven council candidates, collecting $33,822.08 in campaign contributions. Nearly all of his campaign funds, $25,000 worth, was collected in the spring and came from single donations of less than $300 by people living in the Central Valley. The Merced-Mariposa Central Labor Council donated $1,000 during this period.
Lor enjoys much support from the area's Hmong and Southeast Asian populations. "The Southeast Asian community feel strongly that I get re-elected to the council again because it's important for our young people in Merced," he said Friday.
Murphy has collected $18,635 in contributions. His biggest donors include the Merced City Firefighters Association ($2,000), Citizens for the Betterment of Merced County PAC ($1,500), Inmack Foods ($1,000) and the Merced Police Officers Association ($500). He also reported a $2,000 in-kind donation of yard placards from Valley Sign. Other notable donations came from former Merced County Supervisor Kathleen Crookham ($100) and former Atwater city manager Greg Wellman ($200).
Murphy, who's endorsed by the Merced Police Officers Association and the Merced City Firefighters Association, said one big reason why is widespread concern about jobs and revenues. "I think I've collected money from a lot of different places here in Merced," he said Friday afternoon.
Candidate Tony Dossetti's council campaign came in third, with contributions totaling $13,054.99. Citizens for the Betterment of Merced County PAC gave $500 toward his effort.
John Carlisle was behind Dossetti with $9,309 in campaign contributions. A donation of $1,000 came from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 2703, one of the unions representing Merced city employees. The Merced City Firefighters Association gave $2,000.
A group called Workers Opposing John Carlisle for City Council 2011 filed papers and got $10,389 in contributions, including $7,400 from the self-employed James Abbate, who couldn't be reached by deadline Friday.
Richard Cervantes' campaign has received $8,160, with donations of $2,000 coming from the Merced City Firefighters Association, $2,100 from Citizens for the Betterment of Merced County and $700 from the Merced Police Officers Association.
Council candidates Charles Bolin and Carl Pollard reported no contributions. Alex Gallardo Jr. and Ken Riggleman Jr. didn't turn in campaign finance statements.
Mayoral contenders Bill Blake and Sam Thurston are virtually neck-and-neck as contributions go. Blake has $16,989 in his campaign coffer. He received $500 from the Merced County Sheriffs' Association. Funds also include a $5,000 loan Blake made to his campaign.
Thurston has received $16,167 in campaign donations, including $700 from the Merced Police Officers Association and $2,000 from the Merced City Firefighters Association. He's also drawn support from businessman and perpetual political candidate Jack Mobley ($200).
Mayor Bill Spriggs reported $12,635 in contributions to his campaign for re-election, with six donations of $300 each coming from owners of Modesto-based Lyons Investments. He also reported a $1,000 donation from the Merced law firm of Mason, Robbins, Browning & Godwin, and $500 from Christopher Tyler, chief of staff for state Sen. Anthony Canella.
The Lyons' contributions came from friends from his college days, Spriggs said.
Looking back, Spriggs said he's run this year's campaign about the same as his 2009 run. He said he hates raising money to run for office. "I just don't like asking people for money, it's not a real pleasant thing to do."
Michele Gabriault-Acosta reported contributions of $1,071 to her mayoral campaign. "I'm not about the money," she said earlier this month. She's reusing the signs from her last campaign. "I'm green. I'm very frugal and I think with what's going on with everybody, I'm trying to keep the funding and spending and asking for peoples' contributions down," Gabriault-Acosta said, calling her campaign hands-on and grass-roots. "I'd rather have the votes than the money."
Voters will head to the polls Nov. 8.
Reporter Ameera Butt can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.