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Mayoral candidates raise big bucks
mayoral race contributions
The top three Turlock mayoral race candidates have spent a combined $85,000 on campaign publicity, including signage (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

Turlock mayoral campaign coffers reached a new high as candidates enter the final leg of the race. Three of the four mayoral candidates have received a combined $177,830 in contributions so far in their efforts to win over Turlock voters — over $65K more than was contributed in the 2014 mayoral race.

As of Sept. 22, incumbent Gary Soiseth was leading in campaign contributions at $70,411, followed closely by former mayor Brad Bates, who has received $69,361 in contributions. Council member Amy Bublak has received $38,060 in monetary and nonmonetary contributions from Jan. 1 through Sept. 22.

Candidate Jaime Franco filed a statement with the City Clerk that he anticipates raising less than $2,000 for his campaign and therefore does not need to list contributions.

The Political Reform Act requires candidates and committees to file campaign statements by specified deadlines disclosing contributions received and expenditures made. For each $25 donation or more, the date received, amount of the contribution, and full name and street address of the contributor must be documented. In addition, the total amount received from the contributor over the course of the current calendar year must be recorded.

In June 2016, the Turlock City Council adopted the City’s first-ever campaign finance ordinance. The ordinance, proposed by Mayor Soiseth and Council member Bill DeHart, included a voluntary campaign contribution limit of $1,000 per donor per election cycle, disclosure of contributions of $1 or more, disclosure of the top 10 maximum donors to be placed on every Council agenda and a Pledge to Comply with the City's Code of Fair Campaign Practices.

In June of this year, the Turlock City Council voted 4-1 (with Council member Bublak dissenting) to adopt a new voluntary campaign contribution regulation resolution. The updated resolution maintains the voluntary limitations on campaign contributions to $1,000 per person, per election cycle, only requires the full names of the contributors giving $1 or more be disclosed, no longer requires the amount of the contribution to be included and makes deadlines for submitting the voluntary disclosure form the same as deadlines for the required Campaign Statements by the Political Reform Act.

Soiseth and Franco are the only candidates who have signed the City of Turlock’s Voluntary Pledge to Limit Campaign Contributions for this election cycle.

Soiseth’s top campaign contributors as of Sept. 22 are 16 different people or businesses who contributed $1,000 each. Out of those 16 contributors, half of them were from businesses or individuals outside of Turlock.

During the Journal’s mayoral candidate forum held on Sept. 20, Bates called the City’s current campaign contribution resolution “meaningless.”

In 2016, Bates, along with former council members Ron Hillberg and Mary Jackson, submitted two different campaign finance regulations that were considered by the City Council and ultimately voted down.

The ordinance Bates put forth would have put a limit on campaign contributions of $1,000 per donor for a candidate for City Council and $2,000 for a candidate for Mayor. The ordinance also included aggregation of contributions by an individual and entities owned or controlled by that individual or share the majority of members of their board of directors.

Bates’ top contributors as of Sept. 22 were: John Ferrari ($2,500), Larry Rumbeck ($1,000), Frederick Murphy ($1,000), Charles Crivelli ($1,000), Jim Theis ($1,000) and John Miles ($1,000).

Bublak, who initially signed the City’s voluntary campaign contributions pledge in 2016, called the newest version of the ordinance “wishy-washy” during the Journal’s mayoral candidate forum in September, and said she would be following the state campaign regulations.

“I’m going to raise the money and if you think I’m corrupt, if you don’t think I’m ethical, then just don’t vote for me,” said Bublak.

Bublak’s top contributors as of Sept. 22 were: Romina Kiryakous ($5,000), Hall Equities Group out of Walnut Creek, Calif. ($3,000), Joel Mullinax ($2,000) and Maureen Richards of New York ($1,750).

The large amount of contributions for the 2018 mayoral race has resulted in an increase in campaign publicity.

While candidates can still be seen walking neighborhoods and soliciting votes one by one, the top three in the mayoral race have spent thousands of dollars on campaign signs, flyers, online advertising and video production.

Bates has spent over $39,000 on website services, online and social media advertising, video production for his website and social media platforms and traditional campaign signs and mailings.

Bublak has spent over $25,000 on Facebook ads, campaign mailers and listings in different voter guides; while Soiseth has spent more than $21,000 on campaign T-shirts, signs, flyers, buttons and web ads.

The next campaign contributions filing deadline is Oct. 25 for contributions made from Sept. 23 through Oct. 20. The final filing deadline is Jan. 31, 2019 for contributions received Oct. 21 through Dec. 31.