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Ventura County | ELECTIONS

Hoffman Trouncing Parks in Funding for Supervisor Race

January 25, 2002|CATHERINE SAILLANT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Money is pouring into businessman Randy Hoffman's campaign for Ventura County supervisor six times faster than that of his opponent, Thousand Oaks Councilwoman Linda Parks, finance statements released Thursday show.

Hoffman raised $59,750 during a three-week period ending Jan. 19, compared with $9,800 for Parks. That means the technology entrepreneur has raised $211,750 in the two months since he announced his candidacy, nearly triple the $73,900 raised so far by Parks.

Parks and Hoffman are vying to fill an open Thousand Oaks-based seat in the March 5 primary being vacated by retiring Supervisor Frank Schillo.

About half of Hoffman's money has come from David H. Murdock, the billionaire chairman and CEO of Dole Food Co. and developer of the luxury Lake Sherwood estates in Thousand Oaks.

Murdock kicked in another $25,000 for the most recent filing period, bringing his total contributions to $91,000. Hoffman's other backers include the Conejo Valley's GOP establishment and business elite.

Virtually all of the latest contributions to Hoffman came from backers with ties to the building industry. Construction companies in Westlake Village, Santa Paula and Camarillo gave a combined $24,500. Soils engineering firm Geolabs-Westlake Village contributed $5,000, and Haaland Group, a Thousand Oaks development consultant, gave $4,500.

Parks, a slow-growth activist, said Hoffman's money trail belies the claim that he will work hard to preserve open space and stop the 3,050-home Ahmanson Ranch development slated for the county's southeastern edge.

"I see it as a Madison Avenue sales job," said Parks, 44. "He is a manufactured candidate. It's really up to the voters if they want someone who has actually done something or a developer-bought image."

Parks has voluntarily limited her donations to $500 per individual and has not received any contributions from the development industry.

Most donations to Parks ranged from $150 to $500 and came from homemakers, lawyers, retirees and professionals.

Hoffman, 48, said his supporters are backing him not because he wants to "pave over the Conejo Valley" but because they see him as more friendly to business.

"I am supported by the business community because Linda Parks votes nine out of 10 times against business, and local businesses at that," said Hoffman, who made a fortune building Magellan Systems, a firm that manufactures hand-held tracking equipment.

Hoffman repeated his claim that Parks' campaign will eventually be aided by independent committees that pour money into mailings and advertisements.

"My supporters are fully aware of the kind of money that Linda Parks' supporters spent getting her elected to the City Council," Hoffman said. "Almost a quarter-million [dollars] was spent to her benefit. Both times she has run, she has found ways to finance her campaign without spending a lot of her own money."

In the county's other supervisors race, contributions have been more moderate.

Supervisor Judy Mikels has raised $8,888 since Jan. 1, bringing her war chest to $75,258. She has spent about $50,000 on research and campaign advertising for her 4th District, based in Simi Valley.

Hoffman patron Murdock also continued to bankroll Mikels' campaign, contributing $2,413 in printing and postage this reporting period. He is responsible for 36% of the contributions Mikels' campaign has received and is hosting an invitation-only, $150-per-plate fund-raising event for her at the Sherwood Country Club at the end of the month.

Although Mikels' challenger, John Lane of Moorpark, has criticized Mikels' ties to Murdock, the incumbent says the corporate executive is supporting her because he likes her style and her conservative Republican ideology.

Other Mikels contributors included Tom Barber Golf Centers in Moorpark ($1,500); Ventura County Sheriff's Correctional Officers' Assn. ($500); the Channel Islands Village apartment complex in Oxnard ($900); and Sempra Energy Co. in Oxnard ($300).

The most recent contributions to Lane were not available Thursday. As of Jan. 1, he had raised just under $46,000, most of that a $30,000 loan to himself.

*

Times staff writer Margaret Talev contributed to this story.

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