Money, endorsements flowing into election races

ENCINITAS — Money and endorsements are starting to flow into the Encinitas City Council and mayoral elections with less than a month remaining before the Nov. 4 election.

Campaign finance documents show that Catherine Blakespear and Kristin Gaspar lead the city council and mayoral candidates, respectively, in campaign contributions.

Blakespear is among four people vying for the lone city council seat: Julie Graboi, Alan Lerchbacker and Bryan Ziegler are the others.

Gaspar, current council member Tony Kranz, former mayor Sheila Cameron, independent journalist Alex Fidel and local engineer Munawer “Mike” Bawany are the five people running for the city’s first elected mayor position.

Blakespear, according to campaign disclosure documents, has raised the most of any city council candidate, raising $31,679 from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30. This total included a $5,253 loan to herself during the first reporting period. She reported receiving $6,971 in contributions between July 1 and Sept. 30.

Blakespear and mayoral candidate Tony Kranz – who raised $12,293 during the reporting period — picked up a coveted endorsement from the San Diego County Democratic Party. Kranz and Blakespear each received maximum contributions from Councilwomen Teresa Barth and Lisa Shaffer, who have publicly endorsed the two.

Additionally, Kranz received financial support from former Encinitas Councilman Dennis Holz and current Encinitas Union School District board member Carol Skiljian and congressional candidate Dave Peiser, who is challenging Darrell Issa.

Julie Graboi has raised $10,218 through Sept. 1, including $3,010 during the most recent reporting period. Several of her donations reveal significant endorsees, including Ian Thompson, the widower of former City Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan, and former Encinitas mayor and County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price.

Both Graboi and Cameron — who has raised $7,387 during the period and is also endorsed by Slater-Price — picked up a significant local endorsement from community stalwart Bob Bonde, affectionately known as “the Father of Encinitas.”

Bonde wrote in a letter to supporters that he believed Graboi and Cameron had the greatest grasp on local issues, the interest of the citizenry at heart, and were both supporters of Proposition A and vehement opponents of density-bonus projects.

Lerchbacker reported the second-highest campaign total of the council candidates, $22,450. However, his campaign is being backed nearly solely by a $20,000 loan to himself. He received $2,450 from other donors, including $500 from Constance and Steven Baldwin; the latter is the CEO of San Diego-based Heritage Building & Development.

Lerchbacker recently received an endorsement from the San Diego County Republican Party — a controversial one because the party originally had backed Ziegler, but reversed course in recent days.

Ziegler, who has been dealing with complications of back surgery, has raised $2,990 to date and has secured endorsements from the Lincoln Club and the California Republican Assembly, among others.

Ziegler said he believed the local Republican Party withdrew its endorsement because he supported the 2012 voter initiative Proposition A, and that their original endorsement was meant as a means to secure Proposition A supporter’s support for Lerchbacker.

Ziegler said he received “high pressure phone calls” from county Republican Party committee members urging him to drop out and endorse Lerchbacker’s campaign.

“For the record…I never agreed to give up the RPSDC endorsement.  It was taken away from me against my will,” Ziegler wrote. “I believe Mr. Krvaric intended to use me to obtain those voters, then ask me to withdraw my candidacy, and offer my enthusiastic support for Lerchbacker.

“The (committee’s) actions demonstrate their priorities of power and money, even at the cost of integrity.  I refuse to drop out of this campaign and abandon my original intent to serve the citizens of Encinitas,” Ziegler wrote.”

Republican Party Chairman Tony Krvaric said the party does not comment on internal endorsement procedures and declined further comment.

The Republican Party’s other endorsement in the Encinitas races has gone to Gaspar, who has raised $23,129 toward her mayoral campaign during the recent filing period, which included significant contributions from various physical therapists. Gaspar is the CFO of Gaspar Doctors of Physical Therapy, which is run by her husband.

She also received financial contributions from three local bars, Union Kitchen & Tap, D Street Bar and Grill and the Bier Garden. Gaspar opposed taking stricter measures against downtown’s bars when the Council voted on the “deemed approved” ordinance in the spring.

Both Bawany and Fidel filed finance documents stating they would not raise more than $1,000 toward their campaigns.

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