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EAST COUNTY RACES : Fund-Raising Heats Up Campaign for Thousand Oaks City Council : Politics: Six candidates each raise more than $10,000 in contributions and loans. Far smaller war chests are reported in Simi Valley contest.


Six candidates for the Thousand Oaks City Council on Thursday reported raising more than $10,000 apiece in contributions and loans, fueling a heated campaign that has jammed cable television with dozens of commercials each day.

In contrast, Simi Valley council candidates reported far smaller war chests. Former police chief Lindsey Paul Miller led the pack of seven candidates with his campaign fund of $5,026. Incumbent Sandi Webb reported raising $1,415.

Despite their limited accounts, several Simi Valley candidates said they still plan to run television ads as they compete for two open seats.

The biggest fund-raiser in Thousand Oaks was dentist Greg Cole, a Ventura County Community College trustee who describes himself as a family man dedicated to community service. Buoyed by a $17,000 personal loan, Cole reported a total cash pot of $32,436.

Cole received $2,250 from dealers in the Thousand Oaks Auto Mall. The car dealers also gave $3,250 to incumbent Judy Lazar, who racked up the second-highest campaign account, with $22,234.

Cole said he plans to spend a significant chunk of his contributions on television commercials, including one spot announcing an endorsement from former state senator and Los Angeles police chief Ed Davis. In the ad now airing on CNN and other cable stations, Davis tells viewers: "I can assure you that Greg Cole's commitment to your safety is as strong as my own."


Two other Thousand Oaks candidates who have emphasized public safety, firefighter Andy Fox and police detective Mike Markey, are also airing television ads.

Fox, whose crime-fighting commercial features alarming headlines about gangs and graffiti, reported raising $13,725. Running on the slogan, "Why not elect a public servant to serve the public?" Markey has received $8,224 in donations, including a $1,500 contribution from auto mall dealers.

Auto mall dealers have emerged as the biggest donors in the Thousand Oaks campaign, with contributions to Cole, Fox, Lazar, Markey, retired businessman Marshall Dixon and financial services manager Michael Friedman. Local realtors' political action committees have also kicked in significant sums, donating $650 apiece to Cole, Fox, Lazar and Markey.


Seizing on such donations, opponents have tried to paint these candidates as beholden to special interests. All have denied the accusation.

And on Friday, Lazar said she has voted against the auto mall several times on issues such as landscaping and building colors--and will continue to make up her own mind, regardless of pressure from campaign donors.

"They've certainly clashed with me before," Lazar said. "I think they know I'm independent."

Although she has a sizable campaign account, Lazar has decided not to run television commercials. She will focus instead on newspaper ads and mailers.

The Thousand Oaks airwaves are already full of ads from Cole, Fox, Friedman, Markey and three candidates running as a slate: incumbent Elois Zeanah, city operations manager David Hare, and retired filmmaker M. Ali Issari.

Zeanah and Hare, who emphasize the need to return to family values and preserve neighborhoods from more development, each received $500 from a city employees' union. Endorsing the slate, Councilwoman Jaime Zukowski has donated $500 to Zeanah and $250 to Issari.

Zeanah reported total contributions of $11,292. Hare's coffers contain about $9,700. And Issari, who loaned his campaign $7,250, has amassed a total of $13,550.


In Simi Valley, one of Miller's largest contributions of $250 came from Ron Meek, president of the Oakridge Athletic Club.

Dean Kunicki, who serves on the city's planning commission, raised a total of $3,927, much of it from developers and property managers. First Street Car Wash donated $500, while Troop Real Estate gave $250 and developer Griffin Industries gave $249.

Former Chamber of Commerce President Michael S. McCaffrey raised $4,433, including a $2,725 loan he made to himself. He has spent most of that on cable TV ads and postage. Incumbent Sandi Webb raised just $1,415 but spent $3,200 on TV commercials.

Among other candidates, Joseph R. Vesalga reported no contributions. Douglas K. Dubin plans to spend less than $1,000. Times staff writer Sara Catania contributed to this report.

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