SLO County’s city fundraising races take shape

October 11, 2016
Aaron Gomez

Aaron Gomez

San Luis Obispo businessman Aaron Gomez and SLO architect Andy Pease are the countywide leaders in fundraising among candidates for city office. Gomez and Pease lead a pack of six candidates who are vying for two open seats on the San Luis Obispo City Council.

As of Sept. 24, Gomez has raised $15,230 in total contributions, which include $2,200 in loans to himself and $2,580 in nonmonetary donations. Pease has raised a total of $13,602, which includes $2,000 in loans to herself.

In addition to being the fundraising leaders, Gomez and Pease are also the preferred candidates of County Supervisor Adam Hill, who has contributed to both of their campaigns.

Cal Poly philosophy student Christopher Lopez trails Gomez and Pease in the San Luis Obispo fundraising race. Lopez has raised $9,910, all of which has come from himself and Elfego Lopez.

Teacher Mila Vujovichl-La Barre, retired Army colonel Mike Clark and engineering supervisor Brett Strickland have raised $7,009, $5,823 and $1,894 respectively.

In San Luis Obispo’s mayoral race, three-term incumbent Jan Marx is facing a stiff challenge from activist Heidi Harmon. As of Sept. 24, Harmon raised $12,771 in total contributions, while Marx raised $12,409. Harmon has raised more money than Marx despite entering the race after the incumbent had already begun fundraising.

Caren Ray

Caren Ray

The Arroyo Grande council race features political allies Caren Ray and Kristen Barneich, who are the fundraising leaders. Ray is a former councilwoman and county supervisor. Barneich currently serves on the Arroyo Grande council.

Ray has raised $10,266 in total contributions. Barneich has received $9,628. None of the other three candidates in the race have exceeded $5,100, as of Sept. 24.

Arroyo Grande’s mayoral race pits incumbent Jim Hill against challenger Richard Waller. Hill has raised $5,880, while Waller has raised $3,759.

In the other South County races, only Pismo Beach Councilman Ed Waage has exceeded $5,000 in total contributions. Waage, who is currently running for mayor, has loaned himself $5,900 of the $9,112 he has raised.

In the North County council races, incumbents Steve Gregory of Paso Robles and Roberta Fonzi of Atascadero are the clear fundraising leaders. Gregory has raised $11,843, and Fonzi has raised $8,169.

Mayor Jamie Irons has raised the most money among Morro Bay candidates. Irons has received $7,545 in total contributions.

Breakdown by city:

Arroyo Grande


Hill – $5,880

Waller – $3,759

including $2,000 loan


LeAnn Akins – $2,045

Kristen Barneich – $9,628

John Mack – declared he would raise and spend less than $2,000

Caren Ray – $10,266

Ken Sage – $5,100,



AnnKetcherside – plans to raise less than $2,000

Nick Mattson – $7,740

Tom O’Malley – $6,893


Charles Bourbeau – $2,827

Daniel Eister – plans to raise less than $2,000

Roberta Fonzi – $8,169

Bret Heinemann – plans to raise less than $2,000

Grover Beach


Ron Arnoldsen – plans to raise less than $2,000

John Shoals – $2,317


Jeff Lee – $3,158

Debbie Peterson – $1,727

Terry Wingate – plans to raise less than $2,000

Morro Bay


Jamie Irons – $7,545

Tina Metzger – $5,898

Betty Winholtz – $4,781


Laura Cogan – plans to raise less than $2,000

Red Davis – $4,226

Marlys McPherson – $5,304

Richard Sadowski – $623

Paso Robles


Steve Gregory – $11,843

Kevin Kreowski – $1,094

Fred Strong – $4,755

Pismo Beach


Ed Waage – $9,112

Sandra Nielsen – $3,021


Brian Kreowski – $1,802

Kate Shurson – plans to raise less than $2,000

Erik Howell – $4,261

Marcia Guthrie – $2,222

Tom Burgher II – $1,733

San Luis Obispo


Heidi Harmon – $12,771

Jan Marx – $12,409


Michael Clark – $5,823

Aaron Gomez – $15,230

Christopher Lopez – $9,910

Andy Pease – $13,602

Brett Strickland – $1,894

Mila Vujovichl-La Barre – $7,009


Any friend of Adam Hill is no friend to the taxpayer/voter.


No surprises in SLO. Gomez and Pease are the Chamber of Commerce candidates, so they rake in cash from vested interests. Gomez claims he’s an enviro, but is getting big time support from developers, builders and real estate interests, and the Sierra Club thought so little of him they didn’t endorse him. Very interesting effort by Chamber to once again greenwash their candidates. It seems to work, too. Most voters don’t know very much about who they’re voting for.