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Assembly race: Berman, Kasperzak off to fast starts

Two leading candidates in Assembly race each raise more than $100,000

The primary election is still nearly a year away but the two leading contenders to replace Assemblyman Rich Gordon in Sacramento are off to a fast start, with each raising more than $100,000 and picking up a list of endorsements from regional dignitaries.

The 24th Assembly District includes Menlo Park, Woodside, Portola Valley, Atherton, East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Sunnyvale, Half Moon Bay and portions of Cupertino and the San Mateo County coast.


Palo Alto City Councilman Marc Berman. File photo by Michael Vinson.

Mike Kasperzak. File photo by Mountain View Voice.
So far, Palo Alto Councilman Marc Berman has the fundraising edge over Mountain View Councilman Mike Kasperzak. As of June 30, Berman had a campaign chest of $180,248, compared to Kasperzak's $104,427. Since January, Berman has received $134,123 in contributions, while Kasperzak received $108,099.

Berman has also outspent Kasperzak in the early part of the campaign, having spent $15,382 so far this year compared to Kasperzak's $3,674.

The amounts for each candidate include loans that each has made in recent weeks to his own campaign. Kasperzak loaned his campaign $36,000 in late June, finance documents show. Berman loaned $50,000 to his campaign, a contribution that he said was also made late last month.

Both council members are vying to replace Gordon, who will term out of the Assembly next year. While Kasperzak this weekend released a list of dozens of current and former mayors and council members who have endorsed his campaign, Berman last month secured Gordon's endorsement. And while Kasperzak is emphasizing his 14 years of experience on the Mountain View council, Berman was lauded by Gordon as a member of the "next generation of community leaders."

Though the race is just getting started, Berman has the early edge. In his announcement Tuesday, Berman noted that he has received contributions from more than 285 donors, from all corners of the district. Kasperzak said he received support from more than 80 contributors, a list that he said includes family, friends, businesses, technology executives and developers.

Developers and builders are by far the largest group of contributors to the Kasperzak campaign. According to Kasperzak's campaign disclosure form, the list of developers who contributed to his campaign includes Adam Kate, John Mozart, TMG Partners, Andrew Hudacek, Robert Freed, Steve Dostart, John Hagestad and Geoffrey Stack.

He also received $1,000 from developer John McNellis and another $1,000 from George Marcus, co-founder of commercial real state firm Marcus & Millichap. Kasperzak also received $4,200 from a San Francisco-based entity called MGP IX REIT. John Foster and Craig Vought, from the real estate developer Broadreach Capital Partners, have each also contributed $4,200. Phillip Francis Maritz, also of Broadreach, gave another $3,200. Prometheus Real Estate Group made three contributions, totaling $8,400. The Sobrato Organization gave another $1,000, as have the firms ZCON Builders and SCM Construction Management Services, Inc.

Kasperzak also received a few contributions from Berman's turf, including $500 from Bruce Swenson, a trustee at the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District; and $1,000 from former Palo Alto utilities commissioner John Melton. Palo Alto Councilwoman Liz Kniss, who often shares Berman's views behind the dais, nevertheless gave $500 to Kasperzak's campaign (both Melton and Kniss hedged their bets by also contributing to Berman).

Berman's list of contributors includes a mix of attorneys, technologists, venture capitalists, community volunteers and past and present elected officials. These include former Palo Alto mayors Nancy Shepherd, Larry Klein and Helene Wheeler and Berman's current council colleague Greg Scharff, also a former mayor. Berman has also received $1,000 contributions from Palo Alto architect Daniel Garber, a former planning commissioner; realtor Michael Dreyfus; attorney Kate Downing, who currently serves on Palo Alto's planning commission; venture capitalist John Freidenrich of Regis Management Company; Tarken Maner, CEO of the tech company Nexenta, Sean Crocket, chief operating officer of Healthvana, contributed $2,000.

Kasperzak, a two-time Mountain View mayor, said in his announcement over the weekend that his campaign has "vastly exceeded" its fundraising goal for the first half of the year.

"I am proud of our efforts and humbled by the generosity of friends and supporters," Kasperzak said in a statement. "We will continue to work hard at all aspects of this campaign, including fundraising, but my real passion is interacting with the residents of this district and discussing the issues of education, health care, water conservation, our local economy and the environment."

Berman, an attorney who has been serving on the Palo Alto council since 2012 and who briefly considered challenging Gordon for the Assembly bid in 2010, also said he was pleased with the early fundraising figures, which he said indicate his campaign's growing momentum.

"I'm excited to have received contributions from such a diverse group of over 285 donors, from tech executives to teachers, venture capitalists to community volunteers," Berman said. "Our campaign's contribution list is a reflection of our district and of my deep roots and experience here in our community."

Comments

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Posted by Gary
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2015 at 9:06 am

One of the early candidates for State Assembly, Mike Kasperzak, is from my town of Mountain View. He is smart and experienced - in his fourth term on the City Council. However, Mr. Kasperzak has not always taken the best positions on key issues. When Mr. Kasperzak first ran for City Council in 1996, the Council had placed on the ballot an advisory measure concerning NASA's proposed use of Moffett Field for thunderous pre-dawn commercial air cargo jets. Kasperzak said he was "open" to the plan. Voters opposed it and Kasperzak did not grab a Council seat. Two years later, Kasperzak ran again - this time promising to be an "advocate" against air cargo at Moffett. This time, he won but never became an advocate against air cargo. Some 9 years ago, Kasperzak realized that a registered Republican would not do well seeking partisan office on the Peninsula. So, he simply switched parties. While there are many examples of bad decisions by Kasperzak as a councilmember in Mountain View, what happened on April 21,2015 may top the list. Representatives of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) asked the City Council to support their plan to seize the left lanes on El Camino Real from San Jose through Palo Alto (in each direction) for VTA express buses only - one bus every 10 minutes (3 miles apart) during peak hours. Two councilmembers had been declared ineligigle to vote as they owned property on or near El Camino. Kasperzak first said about the plan "I do not know what I want." He then joined 2 newly-elected councilmembers in a 3-2 vote for bus lanes that will, if approved by the VTA Board, bring auto traffic on El Camino (in the remaining lanes) to a near standstill. Even crossing El Camino would be greatly delayed. The VTA's plan is part of a larger plan for El Camino called the Grand Boulevard Initiative, and SamTrans is also planning bus-only lanes in San Mateo County. In Mountain View, a discussion is underway regarding whether to initiate RECALL petitions against Kasperzak and his two City Council cohorts. Yet, because big money is needed in elections in larger districts (such as an Assembly District), most anyone with money can run and just maybe win the seat.


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