Campaign funds lag compared to previous elections |

Campaign funds lag compared to previous elections

Susan Wood

With less than a week to go before Election Day, the six candidates vying for three seats on the South Lake Tahoe City Council show a race defined as a little more low-key than previous races in terms of money raised and signs dotting the landscape.

Incumbent Kathay Lovell and innkeeper Jerry Birdwell have collected over $10,000 each – yet a far cry from the previous, big-money local races that have recently characterized running for South Shore office.

While running against retired teacher Bill Crawford, recreation enthusiast Tom Wendell, real estate agent Michael Phillips and businessman Tom Davis, Lovell brought over $1,600 from her previous council campaign four years ago.

She also recycled signs, she said Tuesday.

In terms of money raised and spent, Birdwell and Lovell’s $10,000 mark still represents about a ninth of the amount South Shore attorney Dennis Crabb had collected while running for the El Dorado County District 5 supervisor seat now occupied by Norma Santiago.

And Lovell remembered receiving about three times more the contributions four years ago, although much was collected at a major Monte Carlo-type fundraiser, a technique now banned.

There even appears to be fewer signs around.

Lovell agreed being an incumbent may play some role in having a “quieter” campaign for money received and spent. She added that raising money isn’t necessarily a requirement for winning as in the case of Crawford. The former councilman has declined to take money and believes the public process will get his message out.

Wendell has placed much bang-for-the-buck focus in his Web site, a $405 venture in spending the $1,047 he’s collected through Oct. 21.

No candidates have run television ads in this election season as Councilman Hal Cole did when he sought a seat on the panel through local Charter Communications air time. Cole and Councilman John Upton are not seeking re-election this time.

Davis, a veteran of three terms on the council, said he prefers to take money from parties where there is no perceived conflict of interest as in casinos, bargaining units and Heavenly Mountain Resort.

The ski area has been involved in extensive negotiations with the city during the redevelopment process.

He disagreed somewhat with needing to make and spend some money on local campaigns. He has received many donations from small business and individuals.

“You’ve got to have some money to get your ads out,” he said. “I could raise a heck of a lot more, but I like sleeping at night.”

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