Which San Jose council candidates lead in campaign contributions?
An aerial view of downtown San Jose is pictured in this file photo.

    With half of the San Jose City Council’s seats up for grabs, this election season will be contested and costly.

    Candidates are required to disclose campaign contributions—the most recent deadline being Monday for funds raised between Dec. 9-31. While not every candidate has their numbers in, here’s a look at what we do know for the San Jose City Council races.

    District 1

    The race to replace Vice Mayor Chappie Jones is contested by three candidates: Ramona Snyder, Justin Lardinois and Rosemary Kamei. Jones terms out this year.

    In the lead with campaign contributions is Lardinois, a San Jose planning commissioner. He raised $25,469 from 132 donors.

    Snyder, president of the San Jose Downtown Foundation board, raised $24,048 from 61 donors. Kamei, who sits on the Santa Clara County Board of Education, has not raised any money so far.

    “My campaign is just starting,” Kamei told San José Spotlight, adding her last day of work as chief development and innovation officer for the Silicon Valley Education Foundation was Friday. “So now I am ready to give it everything that I need to. What you will see in the next month is that things are really going to happen in terms of fundraising and all of that.”

    District 3

    The seat for the downtown core is the most contested with seven candidates running. Historically, the city center has flip-flopped between labor and business interests over the years. Before Councilmember Raul Peralez, who terms out this year, Mayor Sam Liccardo held the seat and before him Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez represented District 3. Both Peralez and Chavez are running for mayor.

    Only two District 3 candidates have disclosed campaign contributions: small business owner and mental health counselor Irene Smith and attorney Elizabeth Chien-Hale.

    Smith has raised $59,538 from 187 donors. Chien-Hale has raised $11,950 from six donors—of which $10,000 she loaned to her own campaign.

    “I am very proud because the results show that I am a truly independent candidate who will not be beholden to special interests,” Chien-Hale told San José Spotlight, adding she isn’t disheartened or surprised by the results because she started fundraising fairly late in the month.

    San Jose-Evergreen Community College District trustee Omar Torres, former congressional candidate Ivan Torres, Gulf War veteran and 2006 City Council candidate Dennis Kyne, attorney Joanna Teresa Rauh and Miles Christopher Linden have not disclosed their filings.

    District 5

    Five candidates are running to represent the East San Jose district where Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco is terming out.

    Planning Commission Chair Rolando Bonilla, with $90,601 across 260 donors, is the fundraising leader.

    Bonilla told San José Spotlight he’s not surprised he raised the most money—not only for this campaign but among all City Council candidates.

    “I’m proud of the fact that the vast majority of the dollars I raised in round one are people who are not affiliated with politics who simply want the best for East San Jose,” Bonilla said. “About 90% of my funds are outside of your traditional routes.”

    The rest of the candidates, with the exception of radio anchor H.G. Nguyen who did not disclose her campaign contributions, have raised a little over $40,000.

    Former state Assemblymember Nora Campos falls in second place with $46,761 from 94 donors. Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee Peter Ortiz trails behind her with 229 donors raising $42,470. Alum Rock Union School District trustee Andres Quintero raised $41,180 from 79 donors.

    District 7

    Campaign contributions show incumbent Maya Esparza may have her work cut out for her in the District 7 race. She’s facing  two Vietnamese candidates, East Side Union High School District board member Van Le and San Jose Fire Captain Bien Doan, in neighborhoods with a significant Vietnamese community.

    Le raised $71,193 for her campaign from 190 donors, while Esparza raised $40,582 from 99 donors.

    Doan trails Esparza with $35,017 from 29 donors. He said he’s happy with what he has raised so far, especially because he’s a new political player.

    “We’re heading in the right direction and I am sure we will continue to see more increases,” Doan told San José Spotlight.

    District 9

    Councilmember Pam Foley is running unopposed in her district. Still, she’s raised $49,382 from 109 donors. She has spent $1,047.

    There is still a chance another candidate may hop in the race, as the deadline to file is March 11.

    Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

    Editor’s Note: Perla Rodriguez, spouse of District 5 candidate Rolando Bonilla, sits on San José Spotlight’s board of directors.

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