Campaign cash flows out of town

Plenty of candidates want a seat

A new face on the political scene has stuffed the campaign piggy
bank this fall in his bid for a City Council seat.
To see candidate 460 filings, click here. Then click on

FPPC-2010 Election

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amp;A with candidate Art Barron
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amp;A with candidate Dion Bracco
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amp;A with candidate Pasquale Greco
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amp;A with candidate Paul Kloecker
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amp;A with candidate Peter Leroe-Mu
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amp;A with candidate Russ Valiquette
A new face on the political scene has stuffed the campaign piggy bank this fall in his bid for a City Council seat.

Peter Leroe-Muñoz has raised $21,400 to finance his campaign. But, despite early pledges to buy local to improve the economy, he has spent at least $5,700 out of town on printing and consulting. But he’s not the only Gilroy City Council candidate fueling economies elsewhere.

Candidate Dion Bracco, an incumbent and an owner of a local towing business, has spent $950 in Gilroy – and that’s for the filing fee at City Hall. Most of his checks were cashed at Paramount Communications in Salinas, a political consulting firm that also provides public relations and advertising. Bracco has paid Paramount $13,000.

Bracco said he had looked for Gilroy businesses that would do the same.

“There’s one, but I had already made a commitment to Paramount a year ago,” he said. “I secured him to make sure no one else did because he’s pretty good. He’s a consultant and he has connections, so all of your signs and mailings are cheaper.”

Bracco’s expenses – $14,600 – are the highest in this year’s race according to the public campaign finance forms known as 460s which all candidates are required to file periodically with the city clerk’s office. Seven candidates are vying for three City Council seats Nov. 2: Two incumbents, two political veterans and three newcomers.

Leroe-Muñoz’s campaign manager, San Jose resident Eric Hernandez, acknowledges the spending ran counter to the message being presented to the public.

“Our campaign message was to buy locally,” he said. “When we buy locally, the money stays here in Gilroy.”

An early campaign flier he said drove home that message. As the campaign went on, Hernandez said he shifted business to Gilroy and was concerned about sticking “to our campaign message to buy locally.”

He used Staples to print 100 fliers and spent some money at Garlic City Books downtown when he found out he could get 5 cents off every page.

Hernandez said no residents have inquired where Leroe-Muñoz spends his campaign money when they have knocked on constituent’s doors introducing the candidate and asking them what they wanted for Gilroy.

The campaign war chests of Bracco and Leroe-Muñoz stand in stark contrast to incumbent Peter Arellano who, after spending almost $46,000 in his campaign for Santa Clara County supervisor this summer, loaned himself the $950 for a filing fee and received one contribution for $250.

After Bracco, Leroe-Muñoz was the second-highest spender, with $11,300 in printing costs, a consultant and campaign paraphernalia.

Art Barron spent almost half that amount, followed by Pasquale Greco, who spent all his money in the July-to-September filing period and did not report any contributions, loans or expenditures in October.

Paul Kloecker, a 75-year-old retired engineer who served on the Gilroy City Council from 1983 to 1995, spent $5,200 on printing, stationary and filing costs.

Among the lowest spenders was Russ Valiquette, a park operations manager at Gilroy Gardens.

He has spent $1,800 on campaign signs and the candidate filing fee.

Valiquette is also the only candidate who has not loaned himself any money.

Barron received $4,300 in contributions, and loaned himself another $2,000 in the July-to-October filing periods. After Leroe-Muñoz, Barron has raised the largest amount, followed by Dion Bracco, who raised $3,000 in new contributions and carried over $9,000 from his last Council campaign. Greco, a a retired Santa Clara electrical worker, is on the tail end of contributions, raising $150. Peter Arellano has reported slightly more at $250.

Valiquette has raised $2,500. He, along with Bracco and Barron, is endorsed by the Gilroy Firefighters Association Local 2805. Valiquette and Bracco received $250 each from the San Jose chapter of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. Kloecker has raised $1,100.

Though Leroe-Muñoz raised, by far, the largest amount of monetary contributions, $6,400 or 70 percent of his piggy bank came from loans made to himself.

“Fifteen thousand dollars came from his own money,” said Hernandez. “Campaigning is not cheap. We’re out there working hard, volunteers are working every weekend, walking through Gilroy.”

Other contributions came mostly from out of town: Oakland, San Jose, Arlington, San Martin, Morgan Hill and some as far as Providence, Rhode Island. Only six of his 28 contributors reside in Gilroy, and they gave him $1,200.

“Coming into this campaign we knew that Peter didn’t have a very strong base of long-term supporters than other candidates, so he reached out to school classmates, family and friends,” said Hernandez.

Arellano only has money from Gilroy – one contribution of $250 from Carolyn Tognetti.

Nine out of Barron’s 14 contributors reside out of town, as do four of Kloecker’s nine contributors. Eight of Valiquette’s 15 contributors are from outside of Gilroy. None of Greco’s monetary contributions come from Gilroy. He received $150 from contributors in Texas and Richmond, California.

No candidates have even come close to Gilroy’s voluntary expenditure ceiling for this year, $26,014.

Candidates for last Council race spent an average of $5,829 in 2007, while the average this calendar year was almost $1,000 more.

To see candidate 460 filings, click here. Then click on “FPPC-2010 Election” on the left.

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