Local Politics

Thursday, May 09 2013 07:14 PM

Rivera far ahead in council race fundraising

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    Willie Rivera

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Marvin Dean is one of several candidates running for the Ward 1 Bakersfield City Council seat.

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    Tomeka Powell, Ward 1 candidate

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    By Courtesy photo

    Stephanie Campbell is organizer of a community cleanup and other daytime activities to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

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    Don Vereen is one of several candidates for the Ward 1 Bakersfield City Council seat.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Efren Martinez, Ward 1 city council candidate.

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BY STEVEN MAYER Californian staff writer smayer@bakersfield.com

There are only 25 days to go before residents of southeast Bakersfield's Ward 1 are expected to elect a new member to the city council.

Six candidates are running in the June 4 special election -- but one in particular has pulled far ahead of the pack, at least when it comes to fundraising.

According to financial statements filed by the six candidates, Willie Rivera, 22, the youngest candidate in the race, has raised nearly $62,000.

Coming in at a distant second in building a campaign warchest is Marvin Dean, 61, who lost a bid for the Ward 1 seat in 2010. Dean has reported receiving $20,450 in total contributions, although he's categorized $8,500 of the total as "nonmonetary contributions," such as donated professional services.

Dean's campaign statement includes no information about who made the contributions or how the money was spent. No itemization is required for contributions of less than $100, and Dean said most of the $9,450 in monetary contributions he's received were in increments of less than $100.

However, Dean has included no information about how the contributions were being spent, details required by the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

In addition, Dean, who is listed as his own campaign treasurer, categorized the $9,450 under "itemized monetary contributions" rather than "unitemized monetary contributions of less than $100."

Dean acknowledged that the filing was incomplete and in error, but he said he has nothing to hide.

"We rushed that in" under deadline, he said of the campaign finance statement.

Dean said that unlike Rivera, who is drawing money from unions, political action committees and out-of-town contributors, "the people supporting me all live in Ward 1."

Efren Martinez, 56, a marketing consultant, also had some errors on his financial statement. The $3,000 contributed by four supporters was listed as a total of $3,500. In addition, the $3,500 was listed in both the less-than-$100 and $100-or-more categories.

Martinez couldn't be reached for comment, but campaign coordinator Matt Cooper said the errors were simple typos.

Tara Stock, a spokeswoman for the state Fair Political Practices Commission, said in an email that the commission cannot comment on specific situations. But in some cases, when required documentation is not provided by a candidate, contributions may have to be returned.

Stock did not address financial statements that include errors in math or mistakes attributed to difficulty in following directions.

Other statements showed candidate Stephanie Campbell, 60, raised $8,400; Don Vereen, 59, raised $2,875; and Tomeka Powell, 30, raised $1,325.

Reached Thursday, Rivera joked that the campaign "has consumed my life."

"It's definitely very exciting, and a great opportunity," he said. "I'm honored to be entrusted by those who have contributed to this campaign."

Both Rivera and Dean said they have come across several voters who have been confused by receiving two different ballots in the mail. That's because another special election -- for the 16th Senate District seat -- will be held May 21.

Please vote on both, they asked.

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