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Councilman Fox Leads the Pack in Campaign Funds

Thousand Oaks: The incumbent has collected more than $78,000 so far, almost three times more than his nearest challenger in the race.


Two-term incumbent Andy Fox has amassed a campaign war chest nearly three times the size of his nearest challenger in November's Thousand Oaks City Council race.

Fox, one of nine candidates vying for three full-term seats on the panel, gathered 527 contributions totaling $78,178 this year, with $60,543 arriving from July 1 through Sept. 30, according to campaign finance documents released this week.

"I'm just very gratified that 500-some residents who live in the community have appreciated the job I've done and my independence on the City Council," Fox said. "I look forward to continuing to do a good job for them."

Councilman Dennis Gillette, who is seeking a second four-year term, received $27,353 through the end of September, of which $13,718 arrived after July 1, making him second in fund-raising at this stage in the race. He lent his campaign $5,000.

Deposed Planning Commission Chairman Michael Farris, one of four candidates running together as the so-called Certified Slow Growth Team, raised $26,558.64 to date. This included $11,000 in loans to his campaign.

In the contest to determine who will serve out the term of Councilwoman Linda Parks, who joins the Ventura County Board of Supervisors in January, restaurateur Bob Wilson--a Farris running mate--leads a trio of candidates for the two-year post. He collected $23,950, which includes a $16,000 personal loan.

The other candidates running for Parks' seat are Randy Hoffman and Donald H. Morris. Hoffman, a millionaire businessman who unsuccessfully challenged Parks for the supervisor's post last spring, has contributions of $8,374, including a $1,500 personal loan. Morris, a retired Rockwell engineer, raised $4,472, including $3,470 that he lent to his campaign.

Planning Commission Chairwoman Claudia Bill-de la Pena, another member of the Certified Slow Growth Team, raised $22,088, which includes a $7,000 personal loan. Laura Lee Custodio, a Granada Hills English teacher and another slate candidate, raised $15,570, including a $10,000 loan from her and her husband.

Dan Del Campo, another one-term incumbent seeking reelection, has raised $11,055. Del Campo, who joined Custodio on a three-person "Clean Sweep" slow-growth slate in 1998, has angered many of his former supporters who maintain he often votes with council members considered too friendly with development interests.

Farris said members of his slate may have to abandon a voluntary $25,000 spending cap, similar to a limit in effect during the council contest four years ago.

"We had hoped to keep the campaign spending to no more than $25,000 each, but we also said we're not going to unilaterally lay our arms down," Farris said. "So, if necessary, we may have to spend more to make sure that we can get our message out."

Part of the slate's message, Farris said, will be to challenge Fox's position that he has been a champion for slow growth and open space. Fox cites the conversion of more than 1,500 acres into public open space and a measure he crafted that gives residents the right to vote on any change to the city's General Plan.

"He's got a lot of money out there to try to convince people that he is slow growth," Farris said of Fox. "Our job is to tell people we don't think what he's done is true slow growth. Look at the amount of development around town."

Health care executive Rick D. Velasquez has raised $2,175, which includes a $500 loan he made to his campaign.

Television producer David Sams reports he only collected $100 that he and his wife lent to the campaign. He pledged not to accept any contributions.

"I am running as the clean-slate candidate," he said. "When folks cast their votes for me, they will know that I owe nothing to anyone--except for the residents of Thousand Oaks. I'm starting out clean--no favors to pay, no ax to grind."

Sams hints that he will use more of his own money before Nov. 5. "I believe that there is a time and a place to spend a hard-earned dollar."

Civil engineer David Seagal, who ran for the council in 1998, has an even more spartan campaign. Not only does he refuse outside donations, but he suggests he will spend next to nothing during the race.

"As a matter of conscience, I am not planning to raise any money," Seagal said. "I don't want to ask people for money unless I know I'm going to go all the way in the campaign. Right now, I'd put my odds of winning at about 1 in 100."

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