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Candidates decide to get an early start
Fundraising kicking off for 2009 W. Covina City Council election
By Jennifer McLain, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 09/20/2008 10:57:06 PM PDT
WEST COVINA – Campaign contributions are rolling in for a City Council election that is more than a year away.
Records show fund-raising efforts among the council members vary in ranging from the amounts generated to types of donors.
The top fundraiser so far this year is Mayor Sherri Lane, who has raised nearly $32,000. Councilman Mike Touhey has raised almost $27,000.
Reports from the remaining members of the five-member council show considerably smaller amounts of campaign cash was picked up during the reporting period.
Councilman Steve Herfert raised $8,660 this year, and Councilman Roger Hernandez raised nearly $3,000. Each has three years remaining in office.
Councilwoman Shelley Sanderson, who is up for re-election in November 2009, has raised nothing.
“I haven’t had time to fund-raise,” she said.
She said she typically does not start fund-raising until the year of the election.
She added her empty campaign fund is not an indication of whether or not she will be seeking re-election.
“I would like to run again, but we will have to see how everything is going,” Sanderson said.
Herfert and Lane did not return calls.
It may appear early to begin campaigning for an election in November 2009, officials said, but lingering debt has motivated most to continually raise money.
Touhey remains $40,000 in debt from the previous election and needs to raise money to bring the balance to zero, he said.
According to campaign records, Touhey has raised $26,349 so far this year, with $16,500 applied toward repaying personal loans from his private business to his campaign. Hernandez has raised nearly $3,000 this year, and half of that has gone to repaying a nearly $10,000 loan.
Sanderson, Herfert, and Lane have outstanding loans, records show.
West Covina is one of the few cities in the San Gabriel Valley that has campaign contribution limits.
Businesses can give no more than $1,000, and an individual cannot donate more than $500 to any one candidate, Deputy City Clerk Sue Rush said.
Records show some contributors have sidestepped the city’s campaign contribution limit laws by contributing thousands to council members.
Touhey, Lane and Herfert have received money from individuals or companies associated with Athens Services, the company that has West Covina’s residential and commercial garbage collecting contracts.
Touhey got $7,000 from Athens-associated donors, including Dennis Chiappetta, executive vice president of Athens, and nearly a half-dozen companies owned by Ron Arakelian, the CEO of Athens.
Lane received $4,000 and Herfert received $1,000 each from donors linked to Athens.
Another common donor that appears in the campaign records is the McIntyre Cos., a Covina-based development, management and real estate firm that is a client of Touhey’s personal consulting business.
Those affiliated with the McIntyre Cos., including Canyon Water Company, Andrew McIntyre and William McIntyre, contributed $3,000 to Lane and $3,000 to Herfert.
No matter where the money is coming from, Touhey said it does not influence his politics.
“I am very much a business person, and a lot of people that support me have that same type of mind-set,” Touhey said. “But my votes are my votes are my votes. (Contributions) do not have an affect on me.”
Hernandez, whose term expires in 2011, has collected nearly $2,000 from affiliates of developer Ziad Alhassen.
“One can make the argument that contributions don’t influence them, but the bottom line for me is that the money trail is pretty telling,” Hernandez said. “Those that support the projects get the money.”