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Monday, October 03, 2005 | Several of the 26 candidates running for Districts 2 and 8 have poured thousands of their own dollars into their campaigns and even more have raised vast sums from individual donors, according to campaign finance disclosures filed with the City Clerk last week.

But those vying for the two vacant City Council seats, on the average, have spent much less on their campaigns than the money they’ve accumulated since jumping into the race six weeks ago. The crowded fields in both districts have raised a combined $390,000 in donations of $250 or less from individuals to spend on yard signs, direct-mail advertisements, radio airtime and campaign staff stipends.

Many individuals close to campaigns say privately that they expect the campaigns to start spending more in the second half of the campaign when voters receive their absentee ballots in the mail and head to the polls Nov. 8.

Seventeen candidates are competing for the District 2 seat that was most recently filled by former Councilman Michael Zucchet and nine individuals are running to replace former Councilman Ralph Inzuzna in District 8. Both councilmen resigned in July after a federal court convicted them of corruption charges.

If no candidate in a race receives more than 50 percent in November, the two top vote-getting candidates in that contest will advance to a runoff, which is scheduled for Jan. 10.

Strategists and candidates alike say that their efforts to communicate with voters in the first half of this campaign have been mainly limited to walking door-to-door in the districts’ neighborhoods and distributing signs for supporters to place in their yard or post in public places in high-traffic areas. Voters will receive a greater amount of informational literature in their mailboxes as the election date nears, they said.

San Diego State University political science professor Brian Adams said it’s common to concentrate on fundraising in the early days of a campaign so that candidates can focus on other aspects later, such as preparing informational literature and attending debates.

“Raising money is very time-consuming so you can’t wait until the last minute,” said Adams, who specializes in campaign finance patterns. “It is common practice to do the fundraising at the beginning and spend more time campaigning closer to the election.”

Most candidates have loaned sums of their own money – more than $10,000 in six cases – to jumpstart their campaign, but their campaign expenditures for the most part appear to be more in line with how much they have raised from others.

For District 2 candidate Tim Rutherford, he has lent his campaign $60,000 dollars – the most among the other 25 election hopefuls – but has spent $10,582 through Sept. 24, the cutoff date for the first round of campaign filings. Rutherford, a self-employed attorney from Point Loma, said he hopes to build on the $8,250 he’s received in donations, but will spend his loan if he needs to.

“I feel strongly that I am the best qualified candidate and I’m going do what it takes to stay on people’s radar,” Rutherford said.

In District 8, candidate Lincoln Pickard, a Web publisher from Palm City, has lent his campaign $53,800 and has not received any donations. His filings show expenditures of $2,953. Pickard did not return calls as of press time.

Ian Trowbridge, a retired professor running for the District 2 seat, has lent his campaign $10,000 and has received $2,815 in donations. His filing shows that he has spent $1,547, or 12 percent of his campaign’s cash. Trowbridge, who resides in Mission Hills, said he has already spent more since the Sept. 24 cutoff.

“It’s going to take more than my $10,000 – more like $25,000,” he said. “If you’re going to get your message out, you’re going to have to reach everyone at least once, and you’re not just going to do that by only walking precincts.”

Adams, the political scientist, said that candidates who lend themselves money will more often than not spend the dollars they’ve poured in and forgive the loan afterward.

On the whole, candidates have spent 38 percent of the funds they have raised from loans and outside donations. Three of the 26 candidates, all of whom are from District 2, have spent a majority of their campaigns as of the filing: graphic designer Kathy Blavatt of Ocean Beach (63 percent), public relations executive Kevin Faulconer of Point Loma (70 percent) and planning commissioner Carolyn Chase of Pacific Beach (50 percent).

Only San Diego City Schools board president Luis Acle, a District 8 candidate who resides in Golden Hill, filed papers that showed more expenditures in the last six weeks than money his campaign has raised. Acle said he needed to spend early and often in order to get his campaign off the ground, and that he expects to raise more cash over the next few weeks.

“Seems to me that we were doing the right thing because it’s becoming apparent that we are getting the name out,” Acle said. “I expect to raise more money as it becomes more apparent that people are willing to offer some contributions.”

Of the District 2 candidates that have spent at least $1,000 as of Sept. 24:

– Blavatt has raised $5,941 and has spent $3,719.

– Chase has raised $20,701 and has spent $10,351.

– Faulconer has raised $77,549 in addition to a self-loan of $5,300. He has spent $57,900.

– Greg Finley of Point Loma, a retired carpet business executive and real estate agent, has not raised any outside money but has a self-loan of $5,000. He has spent $1,800.

– Lorena Gonzalez of Crown Point, an environmental attorney, has raised $23,239 in addition to a self-loan of $13,500. She has spent $14,167.

– Rich Grosch of Ocean Beach, a hotelier and community college district trustee, has raised $3,600 in addition to a self-loan of $45,000. He has spent $10,582.

– Rutherford has raised $8,385 in addition to a self-loan of $60,000. He has spent $10,709.

– Trowbridge has raised $2,815 in addition to a self-loan of $10,000. He has spent $1,547.

– Pat Zaharopoulos of Core-Columbia, a deputy state attorney general, has raised $2,941 in addition to a self-loan of $5,000. She has spent $2,732.

District 8 candidates that have spent at least $1,000 as of Sept. 24:

– Acle has raised $1,570 in addition to a self-loan of $9,200. He has spent $15,066.

– Remy Bermudez of Sherman Heights, a teacher, has raised $2,212 in addition to a self-loan of $10,900. She has spent $5,048.

– Ben Hueso of Logan Heights, an organizational consultant, has raised $18,996 in addition to a self-loan of $2,000. He has spent $9,320.

– Pickard has not raised any outside money but has a self-loan of $53,800.

Candidates were required to submit their filings by hand or via mail with a postmark no later than Thursday. Several campaign filings were not received by the City Clerk or were not obtained by Voice of San Diego as of press time.

Please contact Evan McLaughlin directly at

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