In reading the lists of contributors, Ayala emphasized investor James Tong, whose offices are on Hopyard Road and whose firm has worked with developers to build millions of dollars of commercial and multifamily housing here and in Dublin. He also was/is the man behind building homes in Oak Grove, a project Ayala, Brown and others successfully fought in a referendum to stop. DeMarcus, by the way, works for Tong's firm.
What I found disturbing in the short 10-minute diatribe Tuesday night wasn't so much the Ayala/Carroll campaign "disclosures," which are posted regularly on the city of Pleasanton web page for all to see, but the steady bashing of a City Council candidate who wasn't even in the chambers. Mayor Jenifer Hosterman, who's usually quick with the gavel to warn speakers when their three minutes are up, allowed Ayala to continue. If the candidate being blasted had been mayoral candidates Jerry Thorne or Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who were both on the dais, I think Ayala would have been stopped in her tracks. Hosterman did say when the commentaries were finished that city law allows $1,000 contributions as long as they are disclosed and nothing prevents an individual who works for an investment firm, or a real estate firm as Brown does, from running for public office.
When you look at the DeMarcus campaign, she has received $31,075 to date in her bid for a council seat. Jerry Pentin has raised $30,993, but Brown has only received $14,755 in contributions. As for the mayoral candidates, Cook-Kallio has $27,665 with Thorne slightly ahead at $32,139. Although most of the contributions are in the $100 range, there are a few that might raise more than just Ayala's eyebrows. Among the heavy hitters for DeMarcus are a number of Tongs, presumably related to the investor, and who, like James Tong, also gave $1,000 to the DeMarcus campaign. They include Celestin Tong, Jennifer Tong, Michael Tong, Rebecca Tong and Ronald Tong.
Ayala pointed out that several others who also contributed $1,000 as individuals include Chi Wong, John Wong, Hong Yao Lin and Mei Lin. There's nothing to say that because these donors have Chinese-sounding names that they are part of the James Tong financial dynasty, but Ayala may be on to something. Even so, there's not much to "buy" in a candidate for Pleasanton City Council when the hundreds of donors include many others with possible special interests.
Cook-Kallio has support from Dutra Enterprises of Fremont ($400), E&S Ring Management Group of Los Angeles ($500), and the California Apartment Association of Sacramento ($1,000). The owner of Del Valle Business Park, Frank Auf der Maur, contributed $1,000 in $500 segments to Jerry Thorne's campaign. The Capillas -- Frank, Michael and Muriel -- gave a total of $650. ERFI Associates of Los Angeles contributed $1,000.
Some may question why any candidate for local office in a city the size of Pleasanton needs $30,000 in a war chest. Except for printing hundreds of costly yard signs and a few window posters, and, of course, "Vote for Me" ads in the Pleasanton Weekly, local candidates don't face the huge costs of television ads. $30,000, give or take a few thousand, even Brown's $14,000, strikes me as an adequate fund base to get your name better known to the voting public.