Pacific Union College was Napa County’s biggest spender in the 2012 election cycle, as it pumped in almost $500,000 of its own money to defeat a land-use initiative that targeted three of the college’s parcels in Angwin.

The college funded the opposition campaign to Measure U with $472,702, which paid for television commercials, advertisements, lawyers, consultants, polling and survey research, and campaign signs and literature, according to campaign financial records.

The final batch of campaign financial reports from the Nov. 6 election was filed in late January and early February.

The college’s campaign was successful, as voters rejected Measure U 60 percent to 40 percent. But that success came at a price — the college spent $15.36 per “no” vote.

Had Measure U passed, it would have downzoned three parcels of land in Angwin that surround PUC’s campus. The initiative’s goal was to keep these parcels free of residential developments. The college argued the measure was unfair and infringed on PUC’s property rights.

PUC was the only donor listed in campaign financial records. College President Heather Knight did not return a phone call Monday seeking comment on the college’s spending in the election.

By contrast, Save Rural Angwin, a group that supported Measure U, spent $109,988 that funded advertisements, campaign literature and signs, legal services, and a consultant for signature-gathering. That broke down to $5.47 per “yes” vote.

Save Rural Angwin largely relied on individual donations of $1,000 to $10,000 from Napa Valley wineries and residents.

Drawing a total of 11,196 voters, the race for the Napa County Board of Supervisors’ District 2 seat was responsible for the highest per-vote costs in 2012.

Incumbent Supervisor Mark Luce won re-election with $97,778 in total campaign spending, which comes out to $16.77 per vote.

Luce’s opponent, former Napa City Councilman Mark van Gorder, spent $88,972 total or $16.57 per vote.

Backers of Measure T, the half-cent sales tax measure for road repairs, spent $94,529 in a successful campaign. That breaks down to $2.39 per vote. But supporters were still paying off campaign costs more than a month after the measure sailed to victory with almost 75 percent approval.

Between Nov. 6 and the end of the year, the campaign committee reported donations of $5,000 from Syar Industries, $1,000 from DKS Associates, $1,000 from CH2M Hill, $10,000 from the California Alliance for Jobs, $1,000 from Mark Thomas & Company, and $1,000 from Napa Mayor Jill Techel. The campaign got $500 each from Supervisor Keith Caldwell’s campaign committee and American Canyon City Councilwoman Joan Bennett.

The Yes on Measure T committee got $15,000 from the California Alliance for Jobs and $5,000 from Syar Industries in the two weeks prior to Election Day.

The donations helped cover a $51,941 payment to consulting firm TBWB that helped pay for $10,000 in campaign literature and $15,000 in postage to the U.S. Postal Service, according to the campaign records.

(3) comments


PUC's largesse may have set a record in dollars per vote for a single-donor county campaign for the 2012 election cycle. But $15 per vote is what Obama spent while Romney spent $20 per vote. The presidential candidates alone were spending $33 every second to buy votes. This is democracy?

SRA was hoping to use the political process to finish an unfinished General Plan and correct patently mis-designated land uses which have been troubling Angwin for almost a decade – land use designations which conflict with what is on the ground and what is articulated in the General Plan. Unfortunately, the issues were buried in silly slogans in a campaign engineered from San Rafael authorized by a Board with members from places like Westlake Village and Maryland.

So the political process is broken and offers no resolution. Common sense seems to be unimportant. What else is there to free Angwin from the bilious stasis of distrust and misguided ambition which continues to entomb Howell Mountain?

Red Dirt Town

PUC president Heather Knight, hides in her bunker. The truth has not come out of the president's office in years. Dr. Knight is just another city person sent to Angwin by church leaders to cream the cash off of Howell Mountain at the never ending cost to Napa County's rural heritage.

Triad front man Curt Johansen, (the uber green grasshopper who lives in a gated golf course community) waits is the forest (he intends to destroy) for the market to turn, a change in the Board of Supervisors. Triad has stated that they are 'opportunistic' developers and what an opportunity PUC has offered!

Where do you suppose that half million dollars really came from......the PUC endowment or Triad or both?


Yes, Pacific Union CollegI outspent Save Rural Angwin 4.3 to 1. In football terms, SRA put an official team of 11 men on the field. Pacific Union College was able to put 47. Who could have won against those odds! Save Rural Angwin had the right message, but PUC had the wealth to tell a different story - not completely true - over and orver and over.

People need to grasp that this is not "our" local college. It is owned by a corporation headquartered in Southern California. Of the 21 members of the Board of Trustees, only 2 plus the president of the college live in Napa County. That corporation determines how much the college will spend. Napa County voters were gamed.

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