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LA MESA -- If dollars were votes, City Council candidates Bill Baber and Mary England and Mayoral candidate Mark Arapostathis would be shoo-ins on election day.
The latest required campaign finance reports show a disparate range of fundraising among candidates for La Mesa offices.
Through early October, Baber had just over $35,000 in cash and in-kind contributions while mayoral challenger Mark Arapostathis, a current council member, had reported contributions totalling $17,571 to date.
Council candidate Mary England, who heads the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce, reported $29,750 in contributions, but more than $10,000 of that amount is a loan from herself to her campaign.
Mayor Art Madrid reported only $2,675 in contributions in this report but has just over $11,000 in contributions year to date. He has spent $5,800 so far for yard signs and campaign materials.
Council challenger Patrick Dean continues in his more grassroots approach to running a campaign, reporting only $3,600 in contributions, most of which has been spent for lawn signs and voter lists.
Political newcomers Pete Gregorovic and Guy McWhirter both reported contributions totaling just over $9,000.
Money totals aren't as crucial to outcomes in local races where it is possible for candidates to literally knock on every door in the city over a few months, but it is indicative of a candidates connections in the community.
Baber, an attorney, with extensive experience working on local and state campaigns for others, clearly has a strong network to draw support from. Baber also spreads the wealth around, noting several contributions from his campaign to allies McWhirter and colleagues Rick Winet, Bob Duff and David Chong, the latter three all being candidates for the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District Board that Baber serves with now. Baber also contributed campaign funds to the Term Limit campaign and to the Senate Campaign of Joel Anderson as well as the San Diego Republican Party.
Mary England, whose work with the Chamber of Commerce puts her in close contact with a number of business leaders, also draws support from her wide range of business contacts.
Both England and Baber received $500 contributions from South Baltimore LLC, the corporate name for the Park Station project proposed for downtown La Mesa. England and Baber also received $500 and $250 respectively from public relations firms that have done work on the Park Station effort.
"By my estimate, I received $750 in donations from supporters of the project and $500 from opponents of the project and neither amount will influence me,'' Baber said.
England said both the Kitzman family, which owns the Park Station project property, and the Southwest Strategy executives, have been long-time members of the La Mesa Chamber and she considered their donations a reflection of that relationship.
"You don't buy a candidate for $500,'' she said.
While the amounts of even the leading candidates for a La Mesa office remain modest by today's political standards, still there are enough funds to give candidates a chance to spread their message through direct mail. Recent local elections have been marked by late mailings of candidates and causes to try and swing the undecided voters. Watch your mailbox for a flurry of such communiques in the coming weeks.