March 8, 2006 - Campaign finance reports for the 2006 Oro Valley election show that mayor candidate Nancy Young Wright has raised more than three times as much money as incumbent Paul Loomis, and also that development interests and firefighter unions have made uncharacteristically small contributions this election year.
The reports, which provide details of contributions and expenditures for the period between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22 as well as campaign totals, also show that political committees on both sides of the Oro Valley Marketplace incentive agreement battle royale have raised similar amounts while spending in entirely different fashions.
Although the controversial Question 2 issue over the incentive agreement may have divided the candidates into separate camps, a look at the contributions to 2006 town council and mayor candidates shows that developers were not the big contributors this year. In fact, the candidates all had remarkably dissimilar funding sources.
Young Wright has raked in $14,481 in contributions, more than triple the $4,509 raised by Loomis. Furthermore, $1,286 of Loomis' campaign fund came out of his own pocket. Most of Young Wright's campaign fund came from about 70 individual contributions of amounts ranging between $50 and $300.
Despite the divisive incentive agreement issue, development companies were not the dominant contributors they have been in past elections. Town council candidates Don Cox and Al Kunisch were the main recipients of contributions from developers. Cox accepted $2,020 in contributions from developers between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22 out of a campaign total of $4,555. Kunisch accepted $1,770 from developers during the same period, although most of the $8,155 Kunisch raised during his campaign is funded out of pocket.
Contributions from the North Tucson Fire Fighters were also relatively minor. Kunisch and incumbent town council candidate Conny Culver accepted contributions of $350 from the Golder Ranch firefighter's union.
The remainder of Culver's $2,125 campaign contributions came predominantly from medical doctors living in Tucson. Culver works part time as a pharmaceutical sales representative.
Town council incumbent Paula Abbott's $1,938 campaign fund is entirely self-funded. Town council candidate Kathryn Pastryk's campaign fund is made up from 19 individual contributions, some from relatives and many from outside Arizona.
Town council incumbent KC Carter raised $1,630 for his campaign mostly through individual contributions.
Yet these candidates' resources are all miniscule compared to the campaign fund wielded by New Revenue, More Convenience, the political committee funded by the Vestar Development Company. NRMC has raised $164,000 during this campaign, although Vestar stands to make $23.2 million in sales tax sharing over 10 years if the incentive agreement is approved by voters and the Oro Valley Marketplace shopping center is built at the intersection of Oracle and Tangerine roads.
Vestar's chief opponent, Stop Oro Valley Outrageous Giveaways, has raised a comparable $163,432 during the campaign, most of which has been provided by grocery store chains Fry's, Safeway, and Basha's. Yet SOVOG has not been able to pour its treasure chest into campaign marketing the same way Vestar has. SOVOG spokesman Chet Oldakowski said that about $150,000 of its fund will go towards the legal fees SOVOG racked up over the past two years trying to get the incentive agreement on the ballot, leaving only about $13,000 to conduct a campaign.
"The prime effort of our group was to highlight the shortcomings of the incentives and give the people of Oro Valley the opportunity to vote. As far as we are concerned it was a very worthwhile investment and everyone feels the money was spent in a very valuable manner," Oldakowski said.
Gregg Forszt, president of New Revenue, More Convenience, said that while Vestar sometimes spends more to conduct this sort of a campaign, $164,000 is about average for the Phoenix-based development company.
"The SOVOG group has spent two years spreading misinformation and falsehoods about the project. It's imperative for us to get the correct information out in a short fashion, and in this campaign that's not an inexpensive thing for us to do," Forszt said. "In any election, it's always easier to get people to vote no than yes."