The campaign for a 1-cent sales tax has raised more than $135,000 in its effort to persuade Modesto voters to support the ballot measure, with most of the contributions coming from the Modesto Police Officers Association and the Modesto City FireFighters Association.
The MPOA has contributed $60,000 and the MCFFA has contributed $53,800 to the Safer Stronger Modesto, Yes on X campaign, according to paperwork submitted to the city. Other top contributors include Mayor Garrad Marsh, who has given $5,000, and the Modesto Junk Co. and the Sacramento-based Peace Officers Research Association of California, which each contributed $2,500.
The No on Measure X – Tough Love for Modesto campaign has raised $1,800, according to its most recent campaign-finance form.
The City Council voted 7-0 in July to place Measure X on the Nov. 5 ballot. If it passes, city officials have said they expect the tax to generate about $26 million annually over its six-year life for public safety, roads, shoring up the city’s financial reserves and other general government purposes.
The campaign’s expenses include two payments totaling $5,064 to retired Modesto Police Chief Mike Harden for his work as the campaign manager for Yes on X. Harden said he expects to be paid $6,500 for his work.
Harden’s annual pension is $150,024, according to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. CalPERS said Harden’s pension is based on 28 years of service with the Modesto Police Department.
Harden said campaign officials offered him the job as campaign manager and added he would have supported and campaigned for Measure X even if the campaign had not hired him.
He said he’s working 40 to 45 hours a week on the campaign. His duties include speaking on behalf of the measure, coordinating the work of the off-duty police officers and firefighters and other volunteers who are staffing the phone banks and walking neighborhoods and working with consultants.
Some have criticized the police and fire unions’ contributions to the campaign as an example of job preservation. City officials have said if Measure X fails, the city will make more budget cuts. Harden said there’s some truth to that, but he said the larger reason police officers and firefighters support Measure X is they are frustrated by their inability to provide better service to the community after several years of budget cuts and staff reductions.
The most recent campaign-finance forms cover Sept. 22 through Oct. 19, but they also document how much the campaigns for and against Measure X have raised since the beginning of the year. The paperwork for the Yes on X campaign includes a $20,000 Oct. 22 contribution from the police officers union.