The railroad dispute, aka Measure D, isn’t just the most contentious issue to come before Santa Cruz County voters in a while. It has also become one of the most expensive – with nearly $800,000 raised through May 21.
Thursday marked the deadline for filing the final set of campaign finance reports with the Santa Cruz County Clerk. Leaders of the Measure D campaign worked on these well into the evening, filing them after 6 p.m.
In total, Yes Greenway and No Way Greenway raised more than $794,200, according to these reports. The latest reports show all campaign spending, from 2021 to May 21. Although there is little record keeping for historical comparison, it is clearly one of the most expensive races in county history.
The yes campaign topped the no by approximately $131,000, raising $462,724 in monetary and non-monetary contributions. The no campaign raised $331,476 according to the same figures.
Each side is maintaining funds for what will be a last-minute push for votes. According to reports, No Way Greenway had $54,908 in cash through May 21. Yes, Greenway had $31,351.
During the last approximately one-month filing period, from April 24 to May 21, No Way Greenway raised $71,447.83 in monetary contributions. Yes, Greenway raised $4,063.15.
This big difference in fundraising over the past month means No Way Greenway has closed the gap. This discrepancy, which was over $200,000, is now $140,000 until the report at the end of April.
“These numbers demonstrate that this is a grassroots campaign driven by the work and contributions of hundreds of local residents and volunteers,” Matt Farrell, co-chair of No Way Greenway, told Lookout.
Yes Greenway leader Bud Colligan offered his own explanation for the schedule: “We had a budget and raised our money early so we could plan predictably what we could spend. »
Fundraising began last year and the arms race has intensified ever since.
The yes campaign, which collected signatures to put Measure D on the June 7 ballot, received its first contribution in July 2021. The no campaign received its first contribution in October 2021.
Both have raised funds from large and small donors, and both measure their median donations at around $50.
While state and local laws cap the amount that can be awarded to applicants for office, there is no cap on monetary support for measures such as D. (For applicants, the limit is $500 .)
Readers will recognize some of the major donor names as key advocates on the issue. For example, Mark Mesiti-Miller, co-chair of No Way Greenway, leads the list of funders, having contributed $25,000; his wife, Donna Murphy, provided $25,049. Bud Colligan, identified in public records by his first name John, is among Yes Greenway’s top backers with $25,000.
Others have taken less public positions but make their statements thanks to their funding. Many are well-known names in the community.
On the yes side: Monterey Bay Aquarium executive director Julie Packard, Looker founder Lloyd Tabb, philanthropist Rowland Rebele and Driscoll CEO Miles Reiter, among others.
On the no side: education consultant Sally Arnold, philanthropists Dan and Jill Dion, and Roaring Camp Railroads, operator of popular local trains.
Both sides have already spent most of their funds, with some remaining in the coffers – as shown in the first table below – for the final 10 days of the campaign. Accompanying the expenses – visible to all of us in local media advertising and, of course, the ubiquitous lawn signs and endless direct mail flyers – are the expenses inevitably associated with money.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
Make your voice heard with a letter to the editor
Share your thoughts by sending a letter to the editor. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name, address and phone number for verification purposes only. Letters must be 200 words or less. Please do not include personal attacks, inaccuracies or vulgarities. Learn more here.
Both parties say their fundraising — and the way they raised money — shows their superior community support.
In fact, as this contest draws to a close, there is a growing similarity in their fundraising profiles, in the amount raised, and in the amount of their high contributions.
Of course, amid an often bitter campaign, they also criticize their opponents’ fundraising.
No Way Greenway emphasizes its relative support, highlighting the fact that it has more contributors overall, displayed in the second chart. Additionally, he pointed to the large number of five-figure contributors who funded Yes Greenway, pointing out that “big money” and “tech money” wield unfair influence.
Yes, Greenway points out that he did not ask any donor to give more than $25,000. He was able to attract 10 of those donors, and one who gave an additional $3,000, beyond the $25,000, as shown in the third chart.
Why? “We didn’t want a single donor to represent more than 5% to 6% of the total money raised,” Colligan told Lookout.
Below, Lookout has analyzed the numbers, as delivered to the county clerk, in PDF format, to provide a clear public view of support, particularly around key points of contention over fundraising, which include: (1) amounts collected; (2) the number of contributors; (3) percentage of overall contributions provided by major donors: