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Amount and origin of contributions to local candidates

With an onerous campaign by Mario Trujillo and contributions for the re-election of Blanca Pacheco by some current city providers, the pre-election season gets weird in Downey

Joseph Brizzolara

Candidates for Downey City Council have filed their first set of campaign finance disclosures before the November 3 election.

The disclosures, which were due last Thursday, cover campaign donations and expenses that took place from July 1 through Sept. 19. Disclosure forms are not posted publicly but were provided by the City Clerk’s Office.

In Downey, the Nov. 3 election will determine who represents City Council Districts One, Three, and Five. An election for the Downey Board of Education will also take place.

Here’s a round-up of how much money the candidates raised and where they got it from.

District 1

The incumbent, Blanca Pacheco, is currently serving as mayor after being appointed by the City Council late last year. Pacheco is an estate lawyer. The challenger, Alexandria Contreras, is a regional organizer with YIMBY California, a pro-development housing advocacy group.

Mayor Pacheco’s campaign has outraised Contreras’s campaign by a margin of nearly three to one, raising roughly $38,300 during the filing period. Her campaign has spent about $12,400 from the beginning of the year through Sept.19.

Nationwide Environmental Services, a street sweeping company, and Calmet Services Inc., a garbage collection service, donated $1,000 each. Both companies have existing contracts with the city, City Clerk Alicia Duarte confirmed.

Major donors to Pacheco’s campaign who contributed during the most recent filing period included general manager of Downey Nissan Timothy J. Hutcherson ($1,000) and Champion Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Fiat ($1,000). Penske Toyota donated $1,000 and its finance director Jason C. Roberts donated another $1,000. Jerry Brown, general manager of Mr. C’s Towing, donated $1,000.

Former City Councilman Fernando Vasquez donated $1,000 from his 2014 campaign fund.

BizFed, an LA County-based pro-business PAC, contributed $1,000. PACs representing Blue Sky, a renewable energy company, and the California Association of Realtors also chipped in $1,000 each.

Aria Shafiee, president of Hawthorne Torrance Property Management Inc., and Firoozeh Shakeri both donated $1,000.

Contreras’s campaign raised around $11,900 during that same period. Her campaign has spent about $2,800 from the beginning of the year through Sept. 19.

Major donors to Contreras’s campaign include Kevin Ezeh, a billing clerk for GFK home health care ($500), Gloria Bennet ($900), Kyle Kelly, an engineer at Netflix ($827), and Disa Lindgren ($500). California YIMBY’s Victory Fund donated $1,000 to Contreras.

The First District encompasses southeast Downey. It’s bordered by Brookshire Avenue to the west, the San Gabriel River to the east, and Stewart and Gray Road for most of its northern boundary.

District 3

The incumbent, Rick Rodriguez, is termed out this year. Eric Pearce, editor of the Downey Patriot, has far and away outraised his competitors at roughly $24,400. He has spent around $14,800 in the same period.

Pearce’s top donors include real estate agent Stephen C. Roberson ($1,000) and Cartozian Associates Real Estate, Inc. ($1,000). Irene Reznik and Tatyana Voldiner, both associated with Vig Furniture, also both donated $1,000. L’Abri Property Management’s owner, vice president of operations, and the company itself each donated $1,000.

The law offices of current councilman Alex Saab, who will be termed out this year, donated $1,000. Former Downey mayor and California G.O.P. treasurer Mario Guerra donated $1,000. Along with Pacheco, former councilman Vaquez also donated $1,000 to Pearce. Other donors include Champion Chrysler Jeep ($1,000), California Real Estate PAC ($1,000), and Aria Shafiee ($1,000).

Catherine Alvarez, an organizer with the Downey Tenants Union, raised $3,114 during that same period. Alvarez listed only three contributors, the largest of which was Leticia Vasquez-Wilson—former mayor of Lynwood and current president of the Central Basin Water District Board of Directors—who donated $500.

The First District encompasses northwest Downey. It’s hemmed in by La Reina Avenue and Downey Avenue to the east and Burns Avenue to the south.

District 5

District 5 is an at-large seat that covers the entire city.

Deputy LA County District Attorney Mario Trujillo has raised more than all other candidates in this election combined with a whopping $125,526. Trujillo has received the endorsement of the incumbent, Alex Saab, along with Mayor Pro Tem Claudia M. Frometa and Pacheco.

Councilman Saab’s law office donated $1,000 to Trujillo’s campaign as did many other elected and formerly elected officials including Cristina Garcia’s assembly campaign ($500), Blanca Rubio’s assembly campaign ($2,000), former mayor of Monterey Park Fred Balderrama ($2,000), and former councilman Fernando Vasquez donated $2,000 from his 2014 campaign fund.

Trujillo also received donations from city councilmembers in Walnut and Bellflower, as well as members of the LA Community College District Board of Trustee. 

Slightly over 50% of Trujillo’s donations came from either law offices or individual attorneys. He also received donations from 3 judges totaling $600.

Trujillo has loaned his campaign $10,000.

Carmela “Carrie” Uva, a realtor with 24 Hour Real Estate, raised $27,849 and has spent roughly $10,700.

Around 43 percent of Uva’s donations came from either real estate or property management companies, including $2,000 from the California Real Estate PAC.

Uva’s top donors include Ronald Kolar of L’Abri Management ($1,000), Seal Beach Police Officer Dominic Sarabia ($1,000), and Jeff Wolf of Stewart’s Auto ($1,000). Mel Berdelis and Penelope Watson of 24 Hour Real Estate both donated $1000 as did David Golban of 5 Prairie Inc. ($1,000) and Aria Shafiee ($1,000).

In addition to donating to Pacheco’s campaign, Calmet Services Inc. donated $500 to Uva.         

Candidates Dalejuan Peevy (District 3), Arturo Gonzalez (District 5), and Juan Martinez, Jr. (District 5) did not file disclosure forms with the city clerk.