13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

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By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

Three months before Election Day, challengers Randy Rowse and Deborah Schwartz both are outpacing Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo in 2021 campaign fundraising, documents show.

An even bigger surprise to be found in new campaign filings posted on Monday was developer and District 4 City Council challenger Barrett Reed: he's so far raised $161,541 -- more than any of the citywide candidates for mayor and more than $25 per voter in the last election in the district.

The new reports, which are on the city website, cover the calendar year period Jan. 1- June 30. This newsletter version of our column updates and adds detail to a version published on the Newsmakers website earlier, and also corrects error: the amount Murillo carried over from 2020 is $50,000, not $20,000. Here are six key takeaways.

See how they run

Murillo, who has served on council for 10 years and is seeking a new five-year term as mayor, started the calendar year with $50,117 in the bank from 2020 fundraising and previous campaigns, but the $85,096 she has raised in 2021 significantly trails two of her rivals for the calendar year. Monday was the deadline for filing, and the report for entrepreneur James Joyce was not online at post time; a campaign strategist kindly provided rough numbers for us.

Year to date (Jan-June 30 2021)

  • Randy Rowse $131,921
  • Deborah Schwartz. 105,965
  • Cathy Murillo 85,096
  • James Joyce 31,000

Rowse, the former City Council member and restaurateur, also leads the mayor narrowly in cash on hand, a campaign measure closely tracked by political professionals.

Cash on hand (as of July 1)

  • Randy Rowse $124,714
  • Cathy Murillo 114,240
  • Deborah Schwartz 86,029
  • James Joyce 18,000

Murillo began raising money late last year, before the current $4,900 cap on individual contributions went into effect:

Overall raised (2021 and prior)

Cathy Murillo $139,330
Randy Rowse 131,921
Deborah Schwartz 105,965
James Joyce 31,000

While far from determinative, the contest to raise campaign money, with the new state legal limit on individual contributions, represents an early gauge of support for a candidate in the community and beyond.

PLA pays off

By far, the biggest chunk of Murillo's donations -- 46 percent -- comes from craft unions that stand to benefit from the city's new Project Labor Agreement policy, which requires the city to use union workers, almost exclusively, on public works projects of $5 million or more.

The incumbent received a total of $38,850 from these unions, including Carpenters, Electricians, Laborers, Operating Engineers, Plasterers, Sheet Metal Workers and at least five different Plumbers union locals. Another 10 percent slice -- about $8,500 -- comes from the local Democratic Party and Democratic elected officials, including $4,900 from Supervisor Gregg Hart and $250 each from council colleagues Mike Jordan and Oscar Gutierrez.

She also received a significant amount from local markets, groceries and liquor stores, which face a new ordinance to restrict certain alcohol sales.

Old line SB for Randy

Rowse has received by far the most individual contributions in 2021 -- 215 to Murillo's 125 and Schwartz's 87.

Most of his contributions have been in amounts of $1,000 or less, although he received the maximum $4,900 from real estate investor Richard Berti and from Ben Howland, basketball coach of Mississippi State University (and a former assistant at UCSB); at least $4,500 from real estate partnerships associated with downtown investor Jim Knell and a like amount from investor Earl Minnis; along with $2,000 from the California Association of Realtors PAC.

Much of his money came from longtime Santa Barbara and Montecito residents, retirees, as well as current business owners, including $2,500 from architect Tom Sanborn and from investor and philanthropist Morris Jurkowitz; $2,000 from Peter and Gerd Jordano of the grocery company and the same amount from investor John Price; $1,500 from contractor Doug Ford; $1,000 each from ex-Fire Chief Pat McElroy, attorney Joe Cole and real estate investor David Grotenhuis; $500 each from Marborg executive David Borgatello, former Supervisor Brooks Firestone.and the Santa Barbara Republican Club; $250 from former Mayor Sheila Lodge and $200 from ex-city council member Frank Hotchkiss.

Deborah's restaurant-real estate score

Schwartz received a large number of maximum $4,900 contributions, from real estate developers and restaurateurs, some of whom are both, including Herb Simon; investor James Argyropoulos; Joe's Cafe; Quattro Inc. restaurant company; a company run by restaurateur Gene Montasanto; Lucky's Village Inc., the company that own's Lucky's restaurant; a development company owned by investor Cole Cervantes and the California Real Estate PAC.

She also received $3,000 each from developer and real estate manager Peter Lewis, real estate broker Andrew Adler and construction and design firm owner Darrell Becker; $2,500 from Meridian Real Estate Management; $2,000 from retired Raytheon CEO Dan Burnham; $1,500 from developer Janna Price ; $1,000 from publisher Sara Miller McCune, Democratic donor Judith Hopkinson and realty firm Beachside Partners; $500 from architect Brian Cearnal, former Supervisor Susan Rose and fellow Planning Commissioner and council hopeful Reed; $250 from SBUSD board member Laura Capps.

Barrett's Gold Rush

Four years ago, when Kristen Sneddon was elected to represent District 4, there was a total of 6,298 votes cast for all three candidates in the race, with the incumbent prevailing on 3,237 ballots.

If those numbers are roughly similar this year, developer Reed already has raised $25.64 per voter, or just under $50 (that's $49.90 for those keeping score at home) per winning voter.

Sneddon carried over $5,000 from her previous race, and raised what in ordinary times would be a perfectly respectable amount clearly not ordinary times in this race:

  • Barrett Reed $161,541

  • Kristen Sneddon 45,538 ($49,364 cash on hand).

Reed's contributor list reads like a who's who of Santa Barbara real estate development, sales and management, including maximum $4,900 contributions from The Towbes Group; investors Richard Berti, Peter Lewis, Alex Argyropoloulos and Neil Dipaola; Sotheby's executive Arthur Nelson; landscape architect Jeff Gordon and Laurie and Otto Gaither of the construction firm family, as well as at least $4,500 from entities associated with downtown investor Jim Knell, among others.

Along with many other contributions, Reed also got $3,500 from Coast Village Investments; $2,500 from builder Darrell Becker and from F&H Investments; $2,000 from Southwest Construction Co. and from realtor Dusty Baker.

Most of Sneddon's donations were for less than $500, although she got $4,900 each from the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians and retired SBCC professor Karl Halbach; $2,500 from retired clinical pharmacist Rick Closson; $2,000 from attorney Laurie Ashton; $1,500 from investor John Price; $1,000 each from attorney Cori Hayman, venture capitalist Brett Queener, environmental advocate Lee Heller and former Mayor Lodge; $500 each from former Mayor Helene Schneider and from the local Democratic Party.

Inquiring minds want to know: How many full color, four-page campaign brochure must show up in the mailbox before the Law of Diminishing Returns begins to kick in?

Other provinces heard from

In District 5, incumbent council member Eric Friedman reported raising $48,601 so far this year, and has $53,522 cash on hand. With the deadline for filing this Friday, he may face opposition from UCSB Sociology Professor John Foran, who pulled papers earlier.

In downtown District 6, appointed incumbent Meagan Harmon reported raising $28,738 this year; however, it earlier appeared Harmon would face token opposition, if any, and so some potential contributors may have looked to put their campaign dollars elsewhere.

Last week, however, longtime City Hall executive Nina Johnson announced a challenge to Harmon; she has not yet been required to file campaign spending papers, but is expected to gain considerable downtown business support, meaning that raising and spending in this race likely will soar by the next campaign filings are due on Sept. 23, to cover the period July 1-Sept. 18.


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Byzantium Aug 03, 2021 06:50 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

Each developer has only one vote. Each city union member has only one vote. The winner still must 50%, plus one extra vote*. Anyone objecting to outside forces taking over city council has the same vote power as any one developer or union member. (*Yes, I know Murillo and others have won with less than 50% of the vote- but you get the idea. Even the mayor is just one vote on council, so electing 4 good strong focused candidates on city council becomes the new voice for the city. No reason to think "outside forces" can take over all 50% plus one city voters. They can take only what we continue to give away. Find the candidate that best represents the direction you want this city to take. Back them with your time and your means of making campaign contributions, - both tangible and intangible. This is where money talks - money can field get out the vote efforts that often make the difference. But with mail-in ballots, anyone can make a difference just by putting their ballot in the mail box and hoping yours is the Plus One vote that puts the best set of candidates over the top. Our city simply must stop this drift. The leadership drift happening all over, from our local schools boards to our local city college, to our city itself, to our county, to our state - where we do have the power of our single vote working collectively against the big money interests - who bottom line still have only one vote too - And Big Tech billionaire has just one vote when the final counting is done.

Byzantium Aug 03, 2021 03:51 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

Good to see voters are looking beyond who is raising the most money, and now asking where did that money come from, and even better why did that money come. We like to think it if "from the people" - the grassroots. But only too late we learn the prices we have paid, giving head starts to the candidate who "raises the most money". Too much of it today comes with strings. Good exposure. I stand corrected on my immediate assumption public sector union were moving out of Murillos' camp. But it is not over, until it is over. And for Murillo's first election where she was not endorsed by the unions, she immediately accepted an SEIU fund raising event to help "retire her campaign debt" before she was even sworn in. And it has been a love fest between the two political forces ever since. SEIU knew immediately whose bread to butter after their own endorsed candidates lost in an upset election. And yes, it is now political payback time for the disastrous pro trades labor union PLA crammed down local taxpayers by this self-serving city council. Voters let this happen by not protesting; but this is also a company town, so there are plenty of self-interested public sector employee voters who support their own.

Byzantium Aug 03, 2021 03:38 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

The danger comes when public employee unions sit on both sides of the bargain table spending our tax dollars. Public employee unions learned how to game the system for their own benefit, and we fully lost arms- length local bargaining about 20 years ago. Much to this state's overall distress. Time to go back to non-unionized civil servants and strict prohibitions on their political activity - they need to be 100% neutral, and not embedded deep state agents working for their own self-protection and financial gain as well as almost exclusively working for the candidates of only one party. "Government" exploded and now consumes more and more of our tax dollars after unions decided sitting on both sides of the bargaining table was in their best interests; not the public's best interests ( by and endorsing and supporting the election only those who would play ball with them - this give the unions one side - the other side belongs to them as the lawful collective bargaining agent. Hence today, they now sit on both sides - demanding money and handing out money for their own self-interests) Not a lot to like about the current state of affairs in this state. Unions may be with us forever; but sitting on both sides of the collective bargaining table in spirit and in fact is what voters must stop. Two biggest political player unions in this state: (1) teachers unions who automatically get Prop 98 tax revenue guarantees - 50% of all state general revenues off the top. And (2) SEIU who is the largest government employee union after the teachers union, who fights over the remaining 50% of tax revenues. When you chose any candidate backed by these two organizations, or their stealth political action fronts (Save the middle class - protect working families are they typical buzz words), you are buying into this state's currently embedded government dysfunction malaise. 'Do you hate the middle class" - that is code talk for the unions.

dukemunson Aug 04, 2021 08:54 AM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

People vote for who the DNC tells them to vote for… so we keep getting the same.

Public safety and prison guard unions also should be gotten rid of. All these unions work against the common good and simply bloat the system with corruption and self service. 100 years ago unions were invaluable… now they are embody corruption and waste. Thank goodness their influence is slowly waning…

PitMix Aug 04, 2021 08:47 AM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

Let's see if you can get your current neocon not-so-supreme court to go along with curtailing citizen rights like this. I'm sure you can get those nuts to go along with your thinking on this.

People must be pretty happy with the current system as they keep electing the union-supported candidates, right?

I noticed you omitted mention of the public safety and prison guard unions that skew conservative and benefit much more than the other unions you talked about. Check out their salaries and pensions as compared to the teachers and goverment agency staff.

Randy Parks Aug 03, 2021 02:28 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

In case you missed it: Contributions received from individuals (Randy compared to Cathy) were (215 to 125) and "Most of his contributions have been in amounts of $1,000 or less"

and "By far, the biggest chunk of Murillo's donations -- 46 percent -- comes from craft unions that stand to benefit from the city's new Project Labor Agreement policy." Hmm...

a-1628106668 Aug 04, 2021 12:51 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

That's not true. Limon voted AGAINST the bad bills SB 9 and 10. Bennett is likely to do the same. It's the OTHER legislators, from other districts, that are the problem. There's a statewide team, some of whom are from here, trying to stop this.

Byzantium Aug 03, 2021 03:42 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

Thanks to our current elected legislators, no part of Santa Barbara is safe from over-development including now single family residence zones. The threat of a cluster of all buildings on this now closed off State Street may be the most appealing option of all under these new state build up or out mandates. Thank Hannah-Beth Jackson and Monique Limon for their long efforts leading to this. So, trying to scare people away from "developer" candidates using tall building clustered on State Street has the opposite effect. That may well be the best place for the state legislator Monque Limon and Michael Bennetts new housing mandates.

ChillinGrillin Aug 03, 2021 01:39 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

It is very useful to know who is buying our local politicians, but disgusting that democracy has reached this point. Politicians can be talentless hacks with zero substantive policies but if they're good fundraisers and know the right people, they can get into office. That's why we have the likes of Cathy and Barrett, who are or will be incompetent puppets.

Babycakes Aug 03, 2021 01:34 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

My bones are telling me that it's nearly a certainty that Randy will replace the current mayor. Cathy did a really great job, but due to her behind-the-scene actions not many people appreciate her time in office. It would be nice if the city would name something after her....perhaps a park or street.

a-1628093428 Aug 04, 2021 09:10 AM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

Those 'achievements' or 'accomplishments' listed on Cathy's website are meaningless platitudes, nothing specific. I think she is a great campaigner and a loyal democrat but have been deeply disappointed by her lack of initiative, vision, leadership. I voted for her in the last general election but not this time.

Babycakes Aug 03, 2021 03:44 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

It's not that difficult to find her accomplishments, which she lays out on her campaign website. Here's what she does and has done for ALL of us as mayor:
- She works every day to make Santa Barbara a safer, stronger, and more equitable city where every resident can thrive.
- She connects us with our government and delivers solutions to the challenges we face, which is at the heart of my job.
- She has delivered balanced budgets, efficient city services, and enacted forward thinking progressive policies on a range of issues.
- She has also worked with our neighbors across the Central Coast to create affordable housing, protect our environment, invest in infrastructure, and create more economic opportunity and prosperity.
- She admits that there is a lot more to do, and would be honored to have your support to help keep Santa Barbara moving forward.

The points above should provide the answers your inquiry as to "what has she done." I want to point out that to say that she has done NOTHING is simply not true.

Babycakes Aug 03, 2021 02:32 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

C&G: You do not see her substantive leadership the same as a used-car salesman does not see the scratches and dents on the known lemon they are trying to sell you. Please vote for the person who you feel is best. If that person is not Cathy, then so be it. Who knows, if she wins another term she just might make you a believer.

Byzantium Aug 03, 2021 01:15 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

Unions must be backing Schwarz instead of Murillo, with that kind of cash infusion. Thanks for the heads up. Bring non-partisanship, non-special interest beholden members back to city council. Grassroots is the best; not more infusions of stealth astro-turf.

Mesarats Aug 05, 2021 09:37 AM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

Hard to compare teacher’s unions with fire and enforcement when police with a high school diploma and paid 12 weeks of academy start out with a package over $130,000/year, and minimum teachers do 4 years of university and a year of credentialing start at about $50,000 with student debt

dukemunson Aug 03, 2021 02:22 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

Because the two most powerful unions (teachers and police) are disasters that should absolutely be vilified. I highly respect police officers and teachers… it their unions are horribly corrupt self serving entities that work against the public good.

PitMix Aug 03, 2021 02:10 PM
13 Tuesdays to Go: Cathy Lags Randy, Deborah in 2021 Cash Dash

At least read the article to see if it supports your worldview before writing things that are incorrect. "Schwartz received a large number of maximum $4,900 contributions, from real estate developers and restaurateurs......." Why do neocons hate unions so much? Is it because you hate the middle class?

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