The winner in Oxnard's mayoral contest will not be known for four weeks, but in the race for financing, incumbent Nao Takasugi is far and away the front-runner.
Takasugi has amassed the campaign's largest war chest--$68,175 as of Sept. 30, according to reports filed last week with the city. His financial backing is greater than the combined financial support of the race's four other candidates.
Takasugi has spent $47,098, with the largest chunk, $5,000, going to John Davies, his Santa Barbara-based campaign consultant.
The mayor's funding is more than twice that of the race's next most successful fund-raiser, City Councilman Michael Plisky. Plisky reported $31,758 in contributions, with $18,857 in expenses, including $10,000 for his Santa Barbara consultant, Mary Rose.
The other contender most widely viewed as a serious challenge to Takasugi, City Councilman Manuel Lopez, reported contributions of $20,448. He has spent $12,028, paying $5,000 to his Los Angeles-based consultant, Jerry Seeborg.
Takasugi, a 66-year-old retired grocer who has served three terms as mayor, gave the credit for his fund-raising success to Plisky.
"When Mr. Plisky announced at the beginning that he was looking at a $75,000 campaign, it kind of triggered my supporters, who said, 'Hey, I can't let my man down,' " Takasugi said. "The money just flowed in, and it's still coming in."
Plisky, a 47-year-old business and tax consultant who made an unsuccessful bid for the mayor's job in 1986, disagreed, painting a picture of an intimidated Takasugi.
"I think I scared the pants off him when I nearly beat him two years ago," said Plisky, who lost that race by 695 votes. "I think he's confident that his chances this time are even less."
Meanwhile, Lopez, a 62-year-old optometrist who has bankrolled his campaign with $10,000 of his own money and the $3,075 in rent on his campaign headquarters in a 3rd Street storefront that he owns, said the funding patterns reflect his opponents' pro-development stances.
"The people who are doing development perceive us in a different light," he said. "They're contributing a lot more money to Nao and Mike."
Plisky's campaign funds consist mostly of $100 to $500 contributions from business people and professionals. However, he did receive $300 from Sammis Co., $500 from TOLD Corp. and $500 from Vazquez Enterprises in Camarillo, three development firms with sizable Oxnard projects.
In contrast, Takasugi's war chest includes 17 donations of $1,000 and more, including $1,000 each from Sammis Co.; Oxnard developer Martin V. Smith; Vazquez Enterprises, which owns land slated for a shopping center, and an automobile dealership in a proposed auto mall, DCH Inc., which owns the Oxnard Honda and Pontiac dealership. Other big contributors include TOLD Corp., $950; Robert A. McInnes, a partner in a commercial development within Oxnard's Northeast Industrial Assessment District, $1,249, and Pacific Coast Ford, another dealership in the proposed auto mall, $1,285, Takasugi's report showed.
Lopez's funding consists mostly of contributions in the $100-to-$500 range, including from two trade unions, Ventura-based Carpenters and Joiners Local 2463 and Camarillo-based Ventura County District Council of Carpenters, and from Richard D. McNish, president of a company that built a residential development in northwest Oxnard. Smith also contributed $1,000 to Lopez's campaign.
The race's two other contenders, Paul Dolan and Oscar Karrin, have not fared as well. Dolan has raised $2,058, most of it from residents of Oxnard Dunes, where he is a leader in a complex toxic-wastes class-action lawsuit. Karrin has received campaign contributions of less than $1,000, according to the reports.