Moffat blazing fundraising trail with $13,615 in early reports

City Council candidates Kirby, Nesbitt both raised little more than $3,500 so far
By: Jon Schultz, Journal Staff Writer
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Local small-business owner Gary Moffat has a large lead in fundraising over incumbents Dr. Bill Kirby and Keith Nesbitt in his bid for one of two open seats on the Auburn City Council in the Nov. 6 election. Candidates were required to file their first pre-election campaign statements on Monday, listing contributions and expenditures through Sept. 30. Records from the Auburn city clerk show Moffat as having raised $13,615 in total contributions compared to Kirby’s $3,758 and Nesbitt’s $3,889.79, though Nesbitt reported through Friday. At the time of the filings, Moffat by far had the most in reserve with $9,270.88, while Kirby’s balance was at $2,443.28 and Nesbitt’s at $1,089.22. Moffat, owner of Carpe Vino in Old Town, said his fundraising success “solidifies” for him the opportunity that is available and that he is “clearly positioned for success.” “I’m very pleased with the result, and I’m not done,” Moffat said. “Because the people who are going to make the decision in this election are not the people who run the organizations in town. The voters are going to make the decision on this, and I’m taking my message directly to the voters.” Moffat recently debated with Kirby and Nesbitt in front of what he viewed as audiences dominated by his detractors at a Meddlers’ town hall meeting and the Chamber of Commerce’s “Eggs and Issues” forum. Moffat said his fundraising total has since grown to about $15,000. His two biggest contributors through September were the Laborers Local 185 Political Action Committee in Sacramento and the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council in Oakland, which donated $3,000 and $2,500, respectively. The Northern California Carpenters also contributed $29,463.83 to the “Preserve Auburn, No on Measure A,” committee that campaigned against a move that would have made Auburn a charter city that was shot down on the June ballot. Moffat has staunchly opposed the charter city measure, while Kirby and Nesbitt have both said that they would support it if a committee of citizens brought a proposal to the Council. “Most Auburn families want their government representatives to prioritize getting things done, and somewhere along the way the Council got off track and forgot that mandate,” said Scott Littlehale, spokesman for the carpenters union local 46, a member of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council. “Swinging away from the charter and back to economic development is the thing to do.” Littlehale said the contribution is driven by the interest of the local members, and those in Auburn want to see the city refocused on economic development – a commitment that he said has been shown by Moffat. The Laborers Local 185 PAC lists the same address as the California Alliance for Jobs – Rebuild California Committee that contributed $30,000 to the “No on Measure A” campaign. A message left with the Laborers Local 185 PAC was not immediately returned, and any connection between the two organizations is uncertain. Regarding campaign fundraising, Nesbitt said “people need to look at where the money is coming from.” Asked to elaborate, he said he was referring to “all the union money being funneled into Gary Moffat’s campaign from outside the area.” “Good for him for raising money, but why are those people so interested in Auburn? I could venture a guess,” Nesbitt said. “A little bit of carryover from Measure A,” he said. “But they see someone that is going to be a better friend to the unions. That’s not necessarily a bad thing until you get into collective bargaining. A little favoritism won’t bode well for Auburn.” Moffat defended his union backers and said they are just two of 50 entities who have contributed to this campaign. “The natural inclination, if these guys want to blame the union support I’ve gotten on their inability to raise funds, that just doesn’t wash,” Moffat said. “Because clearly two-thirds of my support has come outside of any organized group, so that means I’ve got broad-based support. “I’ve worked the hardest. If they haven’t gone to their network and raised their money, that’s their issue, not mine. I’ve done what you’re supposed to do.” Some of Moffat’s other top campaign contributors through September were: Thomas Dwelle, general partner of Nella Oil Company, at $1,000 and Ellen O’Donnell Macinnes, Morgan Stanley financial adviser, at $1,000. Kirby said his Oct. 1 fundraiser drew 70 people and he now has $4,000 to $5,000 in reserves – though he still owes on a loan he took against himself of $2,000 to get his campaign started. “My fundraising is really doing well,” Kirby said. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to compete with the money one of the opponents is able to bring in because of his connections.” Kirby only listed five monetary contributions of more than $100 through September, the largest a $500 donation from Richard Azevedo of Auburn, who also gave Nesbitt the same amount as his top contributor through Friday. Nesbitt said he has another $1,100 coming in this week, putting his fundraising about where he thought it would be. He pointed out that he was outspent “10 to 1” the first time he was elected and was outspent by another opponent who placed “well behind” him in the last race. “When the campaign began, I had only planned on about $4,000 to $6,000 (total),” he said. “Obviously some of the opposition is bringing some more money; I may have to step that up a bit.” Jon Schultz can be reached at