OAKLAND — Council President Ignacio De La Fuente is trouncing all other City Council candidates in raising money, as Oakland gears up for June 3 elections.

From Jan. 1 to March 17, De La Fuente raised $81,100, accord-ing to financial records candidates were required to file with the city clerk's office this week. That figure was nearly four times what any other candidate brought in during the same time.

Though his chief opponent says the race isn't about money, De La Fuente opened up a huge financial advantage over those challenging him for the Glenview-Fruitvale seat.

His contributions came from developers, businesses, labor groups and individuals across the city — not just in his district.

"I've been around a while," he

said. "I believe that I'm the most balanced person on the City Council. People citywide have an interest in making sure there's someone in there who takes a balanced approach."

De La Fuente said that since March 17, his campaign has raised even more money and that he's probably taken in nearly $100,000. By the end of the campaign, De La Fuente said, he will have raised and spent $120,000.

He had already spent $20,745 as of March 17, leaving him, at that point, with a balance of $61,375.

His top competitor, Realtor Mario Juarez, took in $9,707 in contributions over the same period. Juarez also lent his campaign $6,000 of his own money. He was sitting on a balance of $10,073 after spending $5,634.


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Juarez said he intends to raise significantly more money, but is confident his message is already reaching voters.

"I don't believe this campaign is going to be won by money," he said. "It's going to be won one voter at atime."

As for the other candidates in the Glenview-Fruitvale race, Community Development Consultant David Wofford raised $345 and had a balance of $31.62. Small-business owner Beverly Blythe reported no contributions.

In other races:

-In the North Oakland contest, incumbent Jane Brunner raised $7,149 from Jan. 1 to March 17 and had a balance of $26,881, while challenger Patrick McCullough raised $906 and had a balance of $570.

-In the Downtown-West Oakland contest, incumbent Nancy Nadel raised $19,656 and had a balance of $19,078. Challenger Sean Sullivan filed reports showing he had raised $18,893 since Nov. 10. He was sitting on a balance of $14,818.

(A potential third candidate in the Downtown-West Oakland race, Greg Hodge, is battling to get on the ballot. A judge is expected to decide today whether Hodge gathered enough signatures to qualify. Hodge did not file a financial report.)

-In the Elmhurst-East Oakland contest, Councilmember Larry Reid raised $950 and had a balance of $650. Challenger Clifford Gilmore had raised $4,185 and had a balance of $3,407.

Reid said he planned to raise $80,000 in the campaign and would begin serious fundraising soon.

"People that know me know that I will raise my money," he said.

-In the at-large contest, the only race without an incumbent, Rebecca Kaplan raised $20,722 and had a balance of $7,112. Clinton Killian raised $18,199, including a $10,000 loan to his campaign, and had a balance of $18,188. Kerry Hammill raised $7,997 and had a balance of $7,773. Charles Pine raised $3,735, with a balance of $3,531. At-large candidate Frank Rose did not report any contributions.

Business, labor weigh in

Besides raising dough, candidates have been chasing endorsements. Key business and labor groups recently publicized who they would be supporting. There was no common ground.

OakPAC, the city's largest political action committee representing the business community, endorsed Sullivan, De La Fuente and Reid, as well as Killian in the at-large contest.

"OakPAC appreciated Killian's experience as a former planning commissioner" and as an AC Transit board member, said Scott Peterson, OakPAC executive director. "He understands the issues on the ground and in the East Bay. He was able to demonstrate a record of accomplishment in both of his prior governance situations."

OakPAC did not make an endorsement in the Brunner-McCullough North Oakland contest.

The Central Labor Council of Alameda County, meanwhile, threw its support behind Brunner, Nadel and Kaplan.

Executive Secretary-Treasurer Sharon Cornu said she hoped Kaplan, an AC Transit board member, could become a "fifth vote for labor and community issues" on the eight-member council.

"We think Rebecca is an excellent candidate," Cornu said. "She's young, she's experienced, she's got solid values, she's been active in the community on a number of issues."

The labor council dealt a blow to De La Fuente and Reid, whom the group has supported in past elections (though not when De La Fuente ran for mayor), by withholding endorsements in the Glenview-Fruitvale and Elmhurst-East Oakland contests.

Cornu said there is a possibility an endorsement will be made before June 3.

"The door's not closed," Cornu said. "Action is tabled. We'd like to take it up again."

De La Fuente, seen as a reliable ally of business on the council, has also been a labor leader for years and is vice president of the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union.

The union is not affiliated with the Central Labor Council, Cornu said.

De La Fuente did not seem overly concerned about what the labor council might do.

"If they endorse, they endorse. If they don't endorse, they don't endorse," he said.

Dellums takes up education

One city politician staying out of the City Council elections: Mayor Ron Dellums.

"He has stated that his role is to govern and that he's going to stay out of the politics," said Dellums spokesman Paul Rose.

The mayor was in Sacramento on Wednesday with mayors from across the state, including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates.

They were meeting with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on education, specifically to discuss ways to stem high school dropout rates.

Rose said Dellums is moving toward developing a working group among other mayors to discuss ways to increase education funding.

"The mayor urged the other mayors to recognize their potential influence on this issue throughout the state and advocated systemic changes in response to this significant dropout problem," Rose said.

Contact Kelly Rayburn at 510-208-6435 or krayburn@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read CityWise in Metro on Fridays.