How did South Bay campaign fundraising fare during the pandemic?
San Jose City Hall is pictured in this file photo. Photo by Nadia Lopez.

With less than 75 days left before the Nov. 3 general election, recent campaign filings show less than $500,000 in contributions raised between six candidates for San Jose City Council and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors — a potential sign that COVID-19 is draining people’s political giving.

Six-figure sums typically are commonplace for these high-stakes local races but the latest figures from March 16 through the end of June highlight challenges during the final stretch of the campaign trail as COVID-19 restrictions halted typical opportunities for donations, such as door-knocking and house parties.

San Jose City Council: District 6

The race to represent District 6, which covers the Alameda, Willow Glen and Rose Garden, brought in the most campaign cash from March 2 until June 30 in local San Jose races.

Incumbent Councilmember Dev Davis raised $81,341 from 204 contributors, with an average donation of around $400. Notable supporters include Eddie Truong with the Silicon Valley Organization, Tom Robinson, CEO of Rotten Robbie fueler Robinson Oil Company and Mark Tersini, principal at KT Urban.

Her challenger, engineer Jake Tonkel, reported $59,392 in donations from 587 people, averaging just over $100 per contribution. Sticking to his vow of not accepting corporation or developer money, most of his donations are from local engineers, government employees and labor unions, such as the Teamsters Local 856 PAC.

According to filings from the fourth quarter of 2019 and 18 days in January, Davis and Tonkel raised $138,474 and $49,488, respectively.

San Jose City Council: District 4

The two candidates for District 4, which encompasses the Alviso, North San Jose and Berryessa neighborhoods collected less than $100,000 combined from March 2 until June 30.

Incumbent Councilmember Lan Diep raised $53,286 from 155 contributions, which average $356 per donation. Notable supporters on Diep’s filing forms include San Jose Downtown Association Executive Director Scott Knies, former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and several executive staff members at Greenwaste Recovery and Zanker Recycling.

His opponent David Cohen, a Berryessa Union School District trustee, raised $38,794 from 207 donors, with an average contribution around $187. His supporters include former San Jose Mayor and Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley president and CEO Ron Gonzales, Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone and California State Sen. Jim Beall.

Filings from the fourth quarter of 2019 and 18 days in January showed Diep had collected $156,126, while Cohen received $67,167.

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors: District 3

The tight race to replace termed-out Supervisor Dave Cortese, who represents Milpitas, Sunnyvale and parts of San Jose, had the highest contributions totaling $240,598 from February 16 to June 30, but supervisor candidates may accept up to $1,000 in donations, more than San Jose’s $600 cap for city council campaigns.

Termed-out California Assemblymember Kansen Chu raised $144,529 from 360 donations between the March 3 primary election and the end of June. His average donation of $376 stemmed primarily from numerous regional engineers, retirees and State Assembly candidate committees.

Attorney and former Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee pulled in $96,569 from 176 contributors, with an average donation of $533. Lee also took out a loan for $260,000, bumping his contribution total to $356,569. Prominent supporters include longtime San Jose attorney James McManis, as well as Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, District Attorney Jeff Rosen and current Supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Joe Simitian.

Contact Katie Lauer at [email protected] or follow @_katielauer on Twitter.

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