A campaign to defeat the landmark anti-sprawl initiative on the Nov. 3 ballot in Modesto has raised hefty donations from the business sector and unions.
The No on Measure I Committee has raised $32,244 since it was formed Sept. 24, according to recent disclosures filed with the city clerk. The group backed by the Modesto Chamber of Commerce claims support from business owners, labor unions, farmers, public safety personnel and residents.
The Stamp Out Sprawl campaign, which gathered signatures to put Measure I on the Nov. 3 ballot, has raised half that amount this year. The proponents collected $15,394 between Jan. 1 and Oct. 17. They raised $44,029 in 2014, spending most of it to collect more than 9,700 signatures from registered voters in Modesto.
Led by former Councilman Denny Jackman, Measure I supporters want to put an urban limit boundary on three sides of the city to preserve the best farmland and firmly establish an urban growth area for Modesto. Development outside the boundary line would require majority approval by city voters. The measure would not restrict growth on the east side of Modesto.
The opponents of Measure I received $7,500 last week from Tenet Healthcare Corp., the owner of Doctors Medical Center of Modesto, Emanuel Medical Center of Turlock and Doctors Hospital of Manteca.
No on Measure I also received $6,000 from the Chamber of Commerce and its political action committee; $5,000 from the Modesto Police Officers Association; $3,000 from Sylvan Property Management; $2,000 each from Rank Investigations and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and $1,000 each from the local building industry PAC, TSM Insurance and Financial Services, attorney David Gianelli and Chamber Chief Executive Officer Cecil Russell.
The chamber CEO said the committee has paid for signs, created a website and sent two mailers to residents. A disclosure form shows an unpaid bill of $17,500 for polling services. The committee has spent $32,500.
The anti-sprawl initiative is one of four measures on the Modesto ballot.
“We think it is the most important ballot measure for Modesto,” Russell said Friday. “The future of Modesto rests on whether or not we can have economic development, and this measure stymies economic development and job creation.”
Stamp Out Sprawl has reported $3,000 in contributions this year from Farmland Working Group of Turlock. Other contributions have included $1,000 from Scott and Lani Turner, $1,000 from Edward Maring and $500 from Vance Kennedy. In the past month, the campaign received donations ranging from $100 to $500 from a dozen individuals.
Jackman said the Measure I campaign has drawn on a broader base of support compared with the opposition. “Their funding comes from a narrow group of people and special interests,” he said.
Mayor Garrad Marsh and his family have been the major contributors to the campaign supporting Measure G, which proposes a half-cent general sales tax increase.
Marsh, the president of McHenry Bowl, has given $3,000 and lent $2,000 to the Yes on G Safer Neighborhoods committee, while his re-election campaign lent $9,500 to the committee. Safer Neighborhoods’ $20,000 campaign fund also received a $2,000 contribution and $2,500 loan from the mayor’s wife, Dallas Marsh. Attorney David Gianelli gave $1,000.
Papers were submitted to the city clerk for a second committee, Citizens Supporting Safer Neighborhoods Measure G, which has raised $11,100. Nancy Hawn donated $9,000 to the group supporting the general tax. Other contributions to this committee included $1,000 from Garrad Marsh, $1,000 from Doug Highiet and $100 from Stacey Marckese, office manager of McHenry Bowl.
If approved next month, Measure G will raise Modesto’s sales tax from 7.625 percent to 8.125 percent and net $14 million annually for the city general fund. According to proponents, it will enable the city to increase police staffing, reactivate crime-fighting units and strengthen code enforcement.
Two other ballot measures, H and F, ask Modesto voters to approve of sewer extensions to county islands and favor a different method of electing Modesto City Schools trustees, respectively. Measure F is in danger of being invalidated because the school district measure was not on all the sample ballots mailed to district voters.
Friday, the Modesto City Council voted in closed session to authorize the city attorney to seek a court order to stop Measure F from being counted and have it placed on the ballot in June.
Campaign financial statements can be viewed online at www.modestogov.com/ccl/elections.
Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321