SLY: Donations flood into Modesto Irrigation District race

jsly@modbee.comAugust 9, 2013 

    alternate text Judy Sly
    Title: Editor of the Opinions pages
    Coverage areas: Local politics and government
    Bio: Judy Sly joined The Bee staff in 1973 and has worked in a variety of reporting and editing roles since then. She grew up on a farm in Oregon and graduated from the University of Oregon.
    Recent columns written by Judy
    On Twitter: @judysly

— Money is flowing in the Modesto Irrigation District Division 4 race, one more sign it will be a hot one.

Three men are running to replace longtime director Paul Warda. Campaign finance reports were due Wednesday, showing amounts collected from Jan. 1 through June 30. Jim Mortensen, retired Del Monte Foods manager, had received $13,840 and spent $7,225. For an MID race, that's a lot. By way of comparison, at the same point in 2011, Nick Blom had collected just under $6,100 and John Duarte, who ultimately lost, had collected $5,500.

Mortensen's contributors included $1,000 from Ronald Jackson, president of the Modesto & Empire Traction Co., and $500 from Thomas Nielsen, chief financial officer at Beard. Paul Van Konynenburg, who served with Mortensen on the MID water advisory committee, contributed $500, as did attorney George Petrulakis, Solecon Industries (whose president is former Supervisor Jeff Grover), Allen Layman and businessman Dick Hagerty. MID Director Tom Van Groningen contributed $100.

Jake Wenger reported contributions of $5,950, including a $1,000 loan to himself and a $1,000 donation from Duarte Nursery. Tim Byrd, brother of MID Director Larry Byrd, contributed $500 to Wenger.

Both Mortensen and Wenger are receiving significant dollars from people who live outside Division 4. Why? Because the MID board will be making critical decisions affecting lots of people.

MID retiree Ted Donham did not file a campaign report, which is not required unless a candidate collects or spends $1,000 or more.

Contact: Email, call (209) 578-2317 or find her on Twitter @judysly.

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