Cash starts to flow heavily in Modesto council races

Conservative and business interests are throwing money at south and west Modesto's City Council District 2, the first serious injection of cash into the two-way race.

Campaign finance statements filed Thursday show that District 2 candidate Dave Geer raked in $7,043 in three weeks. His larger donations included $2,000 from the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and $1,000 from land-use attorney George Petrulakis, a prominent Republican.

Geer has raised $9,486 this year. He loaned himself $5,000, too. Geer's opponent Al Nava has collected $189 in donations and loaned himself $600. Nava's campaign finance statement doesn't list who his donors are.

Geer, a 67-year-old federal security officer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has emerged as the choice for Modesto's business community. His contributor list includes the Building Industry Association of Central California, former Stanislaus County Supervisor Paul Caruso, and landowners and Measure E supporters Frank Bavaro and Alex Liakos.

Geer and other candidates are reaping the fruits of Modesto police backing. The Modesto Police Officers Association paid for campaign mailings and a barbecue for Geer. The union helped District 5 candidate Councilwoman Kristin Olsen pay for a fund-raiser and mailing costs. It funded District 4 candidate Jeff Perine's television ad, which aired 110 times over five days on Fox, CNN, the History Channel and Animal Planet.

Incumbent Olsen leads in fund raising, with $46,355 this year. Her challenger in District 5, political newcomer Joe Cataline, has collected $3,958 this year.

The candidate with the second largest war chest after Olsen is District 4's Joe Muratore, a commercial real estate consultant. He's received $31,404 this year.

Perine has raised $15,041 in 2009. District 4 contender Robert Stanford has collected $1,564 during the same period.

Aside from Geer, the council candidates generally did not receive significant new contributions over the last reporting period.

Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at or 578-2378. Follow her at

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