Candidate coffers vary from 0 to nearly $9K |

Candidate coffers vary from 0 to nearly $9K

Susan Wood

Granted South Lake Tahoe is a long way from Washington, D.C. But as local races go, council candidate Jerry Birdwell has come out of the starting gate with the most contributions out of six diverse and dedicated local residents.

Birdwell, who co-owns the Black Bear Inn, has raised $8,960 and spent $4,680 as of Sept. 30. The next reporting date for the Nov. 7 election is Oct. 26.

The council race also features retired teacher Bill Crawford, businessman Tom Davis, recreation advocate Tom Wendell, incumbent Kathay Lovell and real estate agent Michael Phillips.

The innkeeper opened his bank account and decided to run Aug. 7 – beginning with a loan to himself for $1,000. About half the amount of donations were collected from those contributing under $100. Those donations go unreported on the statements.

Birdwell said the majority of the money he’s collected has been while he’s made the rounds in the community. Birdwell now serves on the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce board and has been involved with the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association, which gave him the endorsement nod with Davis.

“Whatever I have I’ll spend. I just got a call today from someone dropping off a check,” he said Wednesday, adding a fundraiser is planned at the Ski Run Marina on Oct. 23. Birdwell’s bed and breakfast is located on Ski Run Boulevard.

Birdwell said he was not influenced by the level of money contributed in recent races in South Lake Tahoe. For one, Dennis Crabb’s campaign for the Tahoe District 5 supervisor seat on the El Dorado County board collected nearly $90,000. Norma Santiago won with an eighth of the amount donated last year.

Lovell’s race for a council seat four years ago brought local races to a new high, surpassing $25,000. For this campaign, the incumbent has reported $5,873, with $1,924 in expenditures. She shares the middle ground with Davis – another known name in the city with three four-year terms under his belt – and Phillips, who ran for council and lost but has served on the city Planning Commission and with the Clean Tahoe board.

Crawford, another known personality in town who served one term on the council, said he’s not intending to collect money for his campaign. Some people have offered about $200, but Crawford said he’s given it back.

“If people know you, I don’t see any need in spending money on any advertising,” he said.

On the South Shore, campaigns are dominated by roadside signs as a general rule.

Wendell has also no contributions and expenditures to report for this last period because they’re under $1,000.

“I’m still raising money and plan to put out a few signs. But when all is said and done, I might come in under $1,000,” Wendell said Thursday.

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