The run for money in Napa County supervisors’ races so far favors the incumbents.
According to campaign finance reports filed last week, incumbents Diane Dillon and Brad Wagenknecht have raised tens of thousands of dollars more than their competition. The reports cover donations received in 2009, an early stage in races for seats that will be on the ballot in June.
In District 1, which covers west Napa and Carneros, Wagenknecht is defending his seat against former Napa Police Chief Dan Monez. Wagenknecht reported raising $42,498 in political donations, helped in part by about $12,800 raised before 2009. The supervisor reported spending roughly $29,600.
Monez raised about $12,100 and reported spending about $1,800.
In the race for District 3, which includes St. Helena, Calistoga and much of the Berryessa area, incumbent Diane Dillon is facing challengers Michael Haley, a political activist and grapegrower, and Jeff Parady, owner of Pope Valley Repair & Towing.
Dillon reported raising roughly $80,500 — helped by about $31,000 received before 2009 — and having spent $5,800.
Haley raised roughly one-tenth as much, $7,800, in 2009, while spending about $1,000.
Parady, a relatively recent entrant in the race, didn’t raise money in 2009.
The challengers said they are just warming up.
“We’re doing fundraising,” Parady said, adding he has about $2,000 for his campaign so far. “We’ve got an event of the 27th. We’re kind of going to pull the trigger all at once on this thing.”
His Web site will be a key part of his campaign, he said, which will focus on bringing government down to earth — “To bring a common sense approach to any and all action items and to simply represent the people as a whole,” he said.
Parady said money isn’t everything, and he hoped people would focus on the issues.
“I think my message is simple and clear and once people meet me and get to know me and find out about me and we do press releases in coming weeks, it’ll be interesting to see the outcome,” he said. “I’m confident we’re going to have a good race.”
Dillon said she’s been holding neighborhood meetings and spreading her message about what she said are the key issues affecting the county: The need to protect the Ag Preserve, the need to help the local economy and dealing with the likelihood the state may take more money from local government coffers, adversely affecting children and families in need of social services. All this at a time of diminishing resources.
“To me, it’s an important issue for everyone to be concerned about,” she said.
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Haley said his fundraising has been slow so far because he didn’t start until the holiday season, when donors are distracted. Haley said he’s planning a large fundraiser in March.
“I’m anticipating raising $60,000,” he said, admitting that money matters when a candidate in Napa County is trying to get the message out and win name recognition — sometimes. He pointed to Supervisor Keith Caldwell’s primary campaign against Rich Jaeger in 2008 as an example.
“Keith raised a lot less money and he still won,” Haley said. “But money helps a lot. The thing that money does is it helps you reach a lot of people that you wouldn’t know how to reach.”
In District 1, some voters are seeing Monez at their doorstep, now that he’s campaigning full time after resigning from his role as director of Napa TV, the local public access channels.
“I’m literally going door-to-door,” he said. What has he found? “It’s been really interesting. It depends on the neighborhood. Some neighborhoods are more retired people and some are more working-class neighborhoods.”
Almost everyone is concerned about the economy and some people didn’t understand a county supervisor couldn’t keep the Napa Valley Unified School District from closing down schools. The district recently voted to close three elementary schools, including one — Carneros — within District 1.
“As they say, all politics is local,” Monez said.
But he said door-to-door campaigning alone wouldn’t ensure victory. Expensive mailers are on the horizon for the Monez campaign. He said it was unfortunate that a supervisorial candidate in Napa County couldn’t run a campaign for what he estimates is less than $30,000 to $40,000.
“If you have no money, you can’t run a campaign,” he said.
“I can’t think of a campaign in which money hasn’t made a difference,” he said.
Wagenknecht pointed to the economy as major factor in the campaign, and said that the hard times may have played a role in him even drawing a challenge. Wagenknecht ran unopposed in 2006.
The campaign, though, is a chance for him to talk to voters about his view of Napa County.
“This is a precious place that we live in and we have to be careful what we do with it,” he said. “And that it’s not all about making big amounts of money.”