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Fundraising efforts kick off early in Santa Clarita City Council election

Posted: August 26, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 26, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Despite a crowd of people who have said they will run for Santa Clarita City Council in 2014, only a few candidates have raised significant amounts of money for the campaign, according to documents filed with the City Clerk’s office.

Incumbent Councilwoman Laurene Weste has the largest war chest so far, generating $18,276 in contributions for her re-election campaign, according to financial filings.

“I feel like I’ve been very blessed to have friends help and support me,” Weste said Saturday. “And I’m very appreciative of that.”

The earlier-than-usual election cycle - which began in January and has seen several individuals declaring they will run or are thinking of running - has not had an effect on her campaign strategy, she says.

“I just work with my volunteers and all the friends who support me,” Weste said.

The other incumbent running for re-election, Marsha McLean, said the early declarations – which created a 16-month election cycle for three of five council seats - has shifted the timeline for fundraising a little bit.

“We have to get an earlier start because we have people who have declared early,” McLean said Saturday.

She raised more than $3,400 in the filing period from Jan. 1 to June 30.

“You have to be ready for whatever comes,” McLean said. “I’ll just do what I need to do to make sure I run a good campaign.”

William S. Hart Union High School District board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine was the first to declare her candidacy in a move that surprised many for its timing, if not its intent. But when Councilman Frank Ferry declared in late January he would not seek re-election in April 2014, he created that rare phenomenon of a council seat without an incumbent, and others followed.

Council candidate Alan Ferdman has generated more campaign funds than McLean in the early going. Including loans and non-monetary donations, his contributions total $7,357 in the period from Jan. 1 to June 30.

Ferdman’s $1,893 in expenses are also the most of any candidate in the filing period, though the lion’s share of that spending came from a campaign kickoff and meet-and-greet event he said attracted more than 120 attendees and raised more than $5,000 for his campaign.

“We’re certainly going forward and trying to raise a sufficient amount of money to run a reasonable and effective campaign,” he said Saturday. Ferdman is chairman of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee.

Many candidates in the crowded council field — including Dante Acosta, Berta Gonzalez-Harper, Duane Harte and Mercado-Fortine — do not have financial documents on file with the city for the recent filing period.

Another candidate, Maria Gutzeit, reported virtually no spending or fundraising during the filing period. Gutzeit is also running in November for re-election to her seat on the board of the Newhall County Water District. She has said she will concentrate on that race first.
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