As the candidates for the District 4 seat on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors hurtle toward the June 3 primary, campaign finance reports show that they’ve racked up an unprecedented amount of campaign contributions.
Between Republican agricultural businesswoman Lynn Compton, Democrat real estate broker Mike Byrd, and Democrat educator/current District 4 Supervisor Caren Ray, fundraising efforts have produced nearly half a million dollars in monetary contributions, loans, and nonmonetary contributions from the campaign’s outset through May 17.
According to Form 460 campaign finance disclosures—which are prepared by either the candidates or their treasurers and subject to revision—that unprecedented amount is precisely $410,963.22.
Compton leads the three candidates with a total of $195,415.22 in monetary contributions, loans, and nonmonetary contributions through May 17. Ray has collected $140,549, and Byrd brought in $74,999.
As a point of comparison, the 2006 District 4 race between Katcho Achadjian and two distant challengers (which ended in the June primary) produced a total of $87,495.40 in campaign contributions.
A similarly hotly contested three-way District 4 race between Paul Teixeira, Jim Guthrie, and Mike Zimmerman in 2010 (which went all the way until the November general election) produced a total of $201,023.88 in campaign donations.
This year’s supervisorial race is—far and away—the most expensive in District 4 history, and it’s only May.
In previous interviews with New Times, all three candidates characterized money in politics as a necessary evil. Specifically, Ray described the amount of money spent by the Compton campaign as “insane” and said she felt pressure to combat that spending.
It’s worth noting that the nature of the money raised by the three different campaigns is vastly different. For Ray, $130,585 (or roughly 93 percent) of her contributions has been monetary, with only 7 percent coming from loans and nonmonetary sources.
For Compton, $113,038 (or roughly 58 percent) has been monetary, with 42 percent in the latter category. Byrd’s campaign has raised $42,849 (or roughly 57 percent) in monetary donations, with 43 percent in the latter category.
The most recent filing period covered March 17 to May 17. In that span, Ray’s largest single donor was Innovative Housing Solutions Inc. of Arroyo Grande—a local developer—which donated $5,000 on May 1.
Compton’s largest single donor in that period was Buck Waterfield of AJ Diani Construction in Santa Maria, who paid $5,000 for a “safari hunt” during a Compton fundraiser on April 6.
Byrd’s largest single donor in that period was Peter Keith—a former Grover Beach mayor and Byrd’s primary benefactor. Keith paid $5,000 for online advertising on April 23.
If any of the three candidates obtains 50 percent of the vote on June 3, he or she will be declared the victor outright. If none of the candidates hits that mark, the top two finishers in the primary will advance to a runoff election in November.