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El Toro Airport Foes Raise $750,200

Campaign: Measure W supporters say funds will be used for media blitz. Opponents say they are just organizing.


With the primary election less than two months away, supporters of the ballot measure that would kill the county's controversial plan for an El Toro airport have raised more than $750,200 in campaign contributions.

Organizers for the Yes on Measure W campaign raised $326,186 in the last three months of 2001, said Bill Kogerman, chairman of Citizens for Safe and Healthy Communities, which gathered signatures to place the anti-airport initiative on the ballot.

If approved by voters, Measure W would replace airport zoning at the 4,700-acre former Marine base with zoning for an urban park, university complex and sports fields.

"It's looking good at this point," Kogerman said. "We have a lot of people very passionate about this issue and they're not going to stop until there's a return to sanity in this process."

Kogerman said the money will be used for television advertising, posters and a direct-mail campaign: "Essentially the full media gamut."

Surprisingly, the group leading the campaign in favor of the proposed airport did not raise enough money to trigger campaign filing requirements.

Bruce Nestande, who chairs Citizens for Jobs and the Economy, which has promoted an airport at El Toro since 1994, said that anti-Measure W committee was recently formed but has not raised or spent $1,000, the reporting threshold.

"We're just forming our committee now," said Nestande, a former state legislator and county supervisor. "We have begun our solicitation but we have not raised money during the reporting period for this report."

The group will be called the No On the Great Tax--Measure W, he said.

Among Orange County politicians, Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas raised four times as much money in 2001 as his challenger, Senior Assistant Dist. Atty. Wally Wade, campaign reports show.

Rackauckas collected $206,000 in contributions, while Wade had $48,000.

Wade's campaign stands to benefit from a $70,000 pledge from a lawyers union representing prosecutors, public defenders and county attorneys.

Orange County Supervisor Cynthia P. Coad has received $636,766 in contributions thus far for her reelection campaign, nearly six times the amount collected by challenger Chris Norby. From October through December, Coad raised $65,079.

Norby, a Fullerton councilman, has raised $121,300 so far, collecting $78,100 in the last three months of 2001.

"We're pleased, given [campaign contribution limits] and the challenge to raise money against a multimillionaire incumbent," said Norby's campaign manager, former state Sen. John Lewis.

Norby, who served three years as Fullerton mayor, opposes a commercial airport at El Toro. Coad is a member of the board's pro-airport majority.

Lewis was confident that Norby's anti-airport stance would resonate not only in the district but also in south Orange County, where anti-airport sentiment runs strong. Many of Norby's contributors were from South County.


Times staff writer Stuart Pfeifer contributed to this report.

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