Dollar Signs

City Council candidates reveal their contributors

Democrat Nina Trasoff has opened up a big fundraising lead over Steve Farley, the candidate she's facing in the September primary that will decide who will face incumbent Ward 6 Councilman Fred Ronstadt in November.

Trasoff had raised $28,367, according to campaign-finance reports filed by candidates with the city last week that covered campaign activity through May 31. She had spent $7,782.

Farley had raised just $11,278 and had only $2,330 remaining on May 31.

"Fundraising hasn't been a major emphasis as much as going door to door," says Farley, who spearheaded an initiative in 2003 that would have raised the sales tax to build a light-rail system, expand public transit and repair residential streets. "We really don't think we're going to have to spend that much money before the primary in order to win it. The folks who come to primaries in Ward 6 are people who know who I am and have already supported the stuff I've done in the past."

Among Trasoff's biggest contributors: Pima County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Eckerstrom and Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Jim Pederson.

Despite giving Trasoff $150 on March 14, Eckerstrom said he couldn't say whether he supported one candidate over another in the September primary, "given my position as county chair."

Eckerstrom, who also gave $100 to Ward 3 candidate Karin Uhlich on April 27, added that he plans to contribute to all the Democrats in the council races, but he hasn't been able to afford the expenditures.

"I work for the state, and I don't get paid all that much money, so my budget's kind of tight," says Eckerstrom, a lawyer with the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

Pederson, who gave Trasoff the maximum $370 on March 24, says he doesn't know Farley, but he was impressed by Trasoff's effort during her 2004 run for the Arizona Corporation Commission.

"She did what she said she was going to do," says Pederson, who has spent upwards of $6 million on political efforts since 1999. "You don't always get that. She's very trustworthy, very hard-working, very smart."

Farley shrugged off the lack of contributions from the party bosses.

"They recognize that I'm not the sort of person who becomes part of a party machine," says Farley.

Farley's biggest contributions include $700 from Richard and Shana Oseran, who own downtown's Hotel Congress, and $200 from attorney Clague Van Slyke III, who worked with Farley on the 2003 transportation initiative.

Both Trasoff and Farley have applied to qualify for the city's publicly financed campaign program, which provides a dollar-for-dollar match for privately raised funds. Participating candidates are limited to spending just less than $80,000 on their campaigns.

Ronstadt, who decided against using the city's matching-funds program, reported raising just $19,828 and spending $5,546.

Ronstadt picked up $1,850 in contributions from auto dealer Jim Click and four other members of the Click family and $1,150 from contractor Hal Ashton and employees of the Ashton Co.

In northside Ward 3, Democrat Karin Uhlich out-raised the Ward 6 candidates and her Republican opponent, Kathleen Dunbar, who is seeking her second term.

Uhlich had collected $35,284 and applied for matching funds. She had $28,507 remaining as of May 31. Her biggest contributors include members of the legal community and former associates from her days as executive director of Primavera, a homeless advocacy nonprofit.

Dunbar, who declined to participate in the matching-funds program, had raised $30,537 and still had $27,195.

Dunbar had tapped a number of Republican Party activists and members of the real estate community. She had received checks from developers Kenneth Abrahams of Diamond Ventures ($370); David Greenberg of DR Horton Homes ($300); Stan Abrams of the Stanley Group ($170); SAHBA head Ed Taczanowski and his wife, Amy ($200); Steven Craddock of U.S. Home ($150); and Arthur Flagg of KB Homes ($100);

Ward 5 Councilman Steve Leal, a Democrat seeking his fifth term, had raised $35,054. Leal, who has also applied for matching funds, had $25,631 remaining in his campaign account.

His opponent, Republican Vernon Walker, didn't file a campaign finance report as of the June 30 deadline.

Tucsonans for Accountable Government, the independent political committee that plans to target Republican candidates, had raised $1,300 from three contributors: Campaign chair Peter Hormel, a lawyer in the county's Legal Defender's Office ($100); attorney Bill Risner ($200) and accountant Diane Diamond ($1,000).

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