Incumbents account for half of election funds raised, 60 percent of donors

Seven of the eight candidates for San Juan Capistrano City Council met with residents during a forum Wednesday night. Photo: Brian Park
Candidates for San Juan Capistrano City Council met with residents during a recent forum. The campaign finance reports for all eight candidates were recently filed with the city clerk. Collectively, candidates raised nearly $95,000. Photo: Brian Park

By Andrea Papagianis

The eight candidates for San Juan Capistrano City Council have jointly raised a near $95,000 in campaign contributions with the ticket’s two incumbents accounting for half the donations, according to campaign finance records provided by the city clerk’s office.

Councilmen John Taylor and Larry Kramer received a collective $52,532 in donations—or $29,904 and $22,628, respectively. Taylor had 93 contributors, both individuals and businesses, while Kramer had 74.

Following the highest-donated-to candidate is insurance broker Stephanie Frisch, who had raised $16,655 from 49 donors at the filing period’s close on Sept. 30. Jan Siegel, a community volunteer, followed with $10,165 for 31 donors; architect Robert Williams with $7,825 from 19; Pam Patterson, a lawyer, with $2,984 from nine; Councilman Derek Reeve, a lawyer, with $2,548 from five; and educator Kerry Ferguson with $720 from two contributors.

Candidates must disclose all donations of $100 or more. In San Juan Capistrano, individual campaign contributions are limited to $500—up from $250 in previous elections. The City Council voted unanimously in April to increase the maximum donation amount for the first time since 1992.

In addition to monetary contributions, candidates are also required to disclose any funds they loaned themselves, which amounted to $75,900 in this year’s election.

Taylor loaned himself the highest amount, $24,000; trailed by Siegel who loaned herself $20,000; Frisch gave herself $10,650; Kramer who lent $7,000; Patterson who provided $4,600; Ferguson who loaned $4,000; Reeve who borrowed $3,650 from himself; and Williams who gave himself $2,000.

Business and land owners, developers, auto dealers, residents, political action committees and unions all appeared on the candidates’ donor lists.

Since January, Ferguson has received $720 in monetary contributions—including one from James Reardon, a Capistrano Unified School District trustee, for $250. Reardon, a computer engineer, also contributed the same amount to Patterson’s campaign.

The only union donations this year were from the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. Councilmen Taylor and Kramer, along with Frisch, each received a $500 contribution.

Taylor was the recipient of $500 from Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, who is running for the state’s Board of Equalization. He also received donations from CR&R Incorporated, which contracts with many Orange County cities for trash and recycling, the California Real Estate PAC, Tuttle-Click Automotive Group and Orange Coast Jeep. The PAC and local businesses donated to Frisch and Kramer as well.

In addition to her $16,655 in monetary donations, Frisch received $500 in nonmonetary contributions from Evan Chaffee, a San Juan Capistrano Planning Commission member, for social media services.

Both Frisch and Siegel were recipients of $500 from Joshua Host, developer of the proposed downtown Urban Village hotel and residences. Host’s wife, Michelle, also contributed $500 to Frisch. The two also received $250 from Friends of Sam Allevato City Council 2012 each.

Siegel also disclosed donations from Anthony Moiso, CEO of Rancho Mission Viejo, for $500 and Mechelle Lawrence-Adams, executive director of Mission San Juan Capistrano, for $200. Adams donated $200 to Williams’ campaign as well. Williams also received a $300 donation from Steve Nortic, the co-owner of El Adobe de Capistrano.

Each of the eight candidates, vying for three seats on the council, also itemized their expenses for filing and ballot fees, campaign literature, print ads, office expenses, campaign consultants and more.

Frisch has accumulated the highest campaign expenditures at $27,945. The remaining candidates followed with Taylor having $24,463 in expenses; Kramer penning $24,100; Siegel having $15,322; Ferguson amounting $7,419; Patterson with $4,915; Williams having $4,348; and Reeve with the lowest expenditures of $2,785. In total, the candidates have amassed just over $111,000 in expenses.

Residents will take to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 4 to vote in the General Election. According to the Orange County Registrar of Voters, San Juan Capistrano has just over 17,000 active voters.

In order to vote in the upcoming election, registration must be postmarked or submitted electronically by Monday, Oct. 20. Register to vote at

About The Author Capo Dispatch

comments (5)

  • The most important part is who/what special interests contributed to which candidates?
    Jan Seigel, the only candidate to speak out against the shopping plaza next to the Mission and gateway entry to SJC, got contributions from Rancho Mission Viejo, the Mission (via Mechelle Adams)……they must not like that project either.

    Adams and Steve Nordeck of El Adobe also contributed to Williams….the architect who had unfavourable comments about all the projects. RMV must want a different “look”.

    Frisch is interesting as she has spent the most money….but was a “no-show” at the Meet the Candidates forum and posted no opinions on any of the pending 3 projects. Indicates that she will probably rubber stamp whatever the existing Council members suggest (if they are re-elected) but cares little for the wishes of the community. She also got a contribution from a sitting Planning Commission member…..conflict of interest?

    John Taylor and Larry Kramer were the top dollar winners with a wide range of special interest groups; no surprise there, and next to Frisch were tops in spending.

    Ferguson, at the bottom of the pack (next to Patterson) got the least and spent the least. Both have the most rational opinions on the pending projects.

    San Juan Capistrano…..the best government money can buy!

  • I could not agree more with you Bonnie . . . the best government money can buy! What we need is campaign reform at all levels–i.e.: local, state/congressional and presidential. I would love to see:

    1) Term limits
    2) Abolish PACs and campaign donations from all potential sources, as well as use of personal or family funds.
    3) Establish a public trust that everyone contributes $10.00 per year to when paying their taxes
    4) Each candidate that qualifies to be put on the ballot gets a fixed amount to run their campaign.
    5) Campaigns are limited to 60 days for local, 90 days for state/congressional, and 120 days for presidential.
    6) Truth in Campaigning Act. Any candidate who lies in order to discredit his or her opponent, should be automatically removed from the list of candidates and required to return all funds received from the public trust.

    • It has to start at the grass roots level, Joanna. Voters have to understand the issues and the candidates. That’s a lot of work.

  • Mechelle Lawrence Adams

    Hi Johanna and Bonnie, thanks for the value of your post.

    Since you call me out by name, I want to respectfully respond that actually as a 24 year full time employee earning a living by being a planner and preservationist as well as being a property owner, a business woman and mother my interests in endorsing Rob Williams and Jan Siegel reflect what I value most – protecting while we progress – he identity and uniqueness of SJC.

    Therefore, my single $200 donations pale in comparison to what others have given (up to $1,000 a married couple). I have no business before the City Council and no interest other than seeing people get elected that care about serving all members of our community , horses, hillsides, history, open space, traffic solutions, youth services, public safety and assuring the quality of life for a place I proudly call home. I have no interests in redesigning SJC into an Irvine community with a little history mixed in. Instead, I rather like it the way it is with a few improvements to traffic and assuring the build out happens in a way we can all love and enjoy for decades to come. Not “no development” but “build out according to the General Plan” a document I believe in and has always valued the things I mention. My donation reflects that I want council persons who possess a mutual business and preservation mindset representing those of us that work every day to steward history in the community.

    Your analysis calls out just a few donors by name, but if you are doing to do that it is probably more fair to identify which developers (who really do have a special interest in the outcome of the election) have actual business or development applications before the City – and are donating where. And which candidates are taking donations that have assured a “yes” vote to these projects before they have actually participated in the public process and hearing from the residential voting community. I hate to think things are a done deal before we’ve all had a chance to weigh in on what is going to happen in our community.

    So Yes, I care, I gave a little money and I did it as a resident with her own concerns. Just like you, I am passionate.

    Where a mother of three, or the executive director of a non profit donates as a resident is not really newsworthy but I am flattered by the attention and appreciate the value of your post, which really is just a great reminder that the public process works and it is up to us, as you suggest, to get involved to make a difference. We get what we allow to have happen. So voting matters. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    • “We get what we allow to have happen”. And, yes, voting matters. It would be great if the candidates would be as candid and reveal where their money is coming from.

      These 3 projects in planning will have enormous impact on the community. And it is really important that the residents of SJC voice their concerns. But they do need the facts about the projects and the feelings of the folks they are being asked to vote for.

      Thank you for voicing yours.

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