In an important but unofficial barometer of the Fresno City Council District 6 race, Garry Bredefeld is far outdistancing his competitors in raising funds ahead of the June 7 primary election.
City Council candidates could begin collecting campaign donations on Feb. 15. As of Monday, campaign finance statements filed with the Fresno City Clerk’s office showed that Bredefeld reported raising $93,437 in contributions from about 77 different donors.
That’s more than the combined contributions of Jeremy Pearce and Holly Carter, the other two main candidates. In addition, Bredefeld has loaned his campaign $30,000.
Among the biggest contributions to the Bredefeld campaign were $7,000 from the Fresno Police Officers Association’s political action committee and $8,000 from the PAC for the Fresno City Firefighters association. Both public safety unions announced their endorsements of Bredefeld last month. On Monday, the Pipe Trades Council PAC contributed $4,200 to the Bredefeld campaign.
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Through April 23, financial disclosures indicate that Bredefeld had spent about $21,600 on his campaign, and he had unpaid bills of under $1,000.
Bredefeld, a practicing psychologist, is running to reclaim the City Council seat he held from 1997 into early 2001 representing northeast Fresno.
$93,437Campaign contributions reported received by Garry Bredfeld as of May 9
$40,952Contributions reported by Jeremy Pearce
$35,886Contributions reported by Holly Carter
Pearce, a businessman who is a professional Elvis Presley impersonator, is running second in the fundraising, reporting just under $41,000 in contributions from about 50 different donors, and loaning his campaign $8,000. Among his largest contributions was $4,200 from Assemblyman Jim Patterson’s, R-Fresno, 2016 campaign committee. The Pearce campaign reported that it has spent about $23,600 as of April 23, with no unpaid bills.
Carter, who owns her own public relations company in Fresno, collected about $36,000 in contributions from about 40 donors; she also loaned another $30,000 to her campaign. Her largest contributions, $4,200 each, have come from former Fresno City Council Member Jerry Duncan, who is serving as her campaign treasurer, and Gary Agajanian, president of Agajanian Vineyards in Madera.
Carter also reported the highest campaign spending, with payments of more than $32,000 as of April 23. That includes about $4,200 to her company, Carter & Co. Communications. Her financial statement also reports unpaid bills so far of more than $14,000, including $13,266 reported owed to her firm as a vendor of campaign-related services.
“The candidate does not receive any monetary compensation or salary for this or any other expenditure related to the campaign,” according to footnotes in the disclosure statement. “Itemized invoices for expenditures to Carter & Co. Communications are available for all expenses, just as they would be for any other vendor hired to perform these services.”
The footnotes appear in Carter’s campaign disclosure covering the period from Jan. 1 through April 23, as well as in an amended disclosure filed in April for the period through Dec. 31 of last year.
The amended disclosure was filed after a complaint was lodged with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission alleging that Carter violated campaign finance laws – concerns raised by the Pearce campaign and denied vehemently by Duncan when the complaint was filed.
Student Carter Pope II, the fourth candidate in the race, is filing no reports because his campaign anticipated raising and spending less than $2,000 on the election.
The four candidates are running to replace Lee Brand, who is running for mayor.
Fresno State political science professor Lisa Bryant said campaign finance disclosures typically are “a good indicator of support” for candidates in local races such as City Council, “where we don’t have polling because it’s so expensive.”
“People throw their votes where their money is,” she said, “so usually you can follow the money.”