Both the Hesperia City Council and Hesperia Unified School District school board races might both be hotly contested this year, but when it comes to donations, it's not even close: The city council race is where deep-pocketed donors are contributing.


The campaigns' ledger books were opened this week, in accordance with California election law.


State law requires any candidate who has raised or spent more than $1,000 must file California Form 460, the Recipient Committee Campaign Statement. Forms due Monday, October 6, cover the period between July 1 and September 30 of this year.


The top fund-raiser in the city council race, Mark Kirk, has raised almost three times the funds the political arm of the Hesperia Teachers Association has raised this period.


City council


Hesperia city council candidate Dennis Arquette did not file a 460 form, but rather a 470, the short form, on which he declares that he will raise and spend less than $1,000 on his campaign.


Candidate Scott Bennett's campaign committee has raised $1,000 for his campaign so far, which he loaned from the candidate himself. As of September 30, Bennett had not spent any of his campaign funds.


Russ Blewett has raised $50,600 this year, and spent $37,777 of it. His largest donations include $5,000 donations from Oak Valley Management and the Picerne Group, a $2,500 donation from the Committee to Elect Brad Mitzelfelt, a $1,500 donation from the BIA of Southern California political action committee, a $1,200 donation from BCA Engineering and a $1,000 donation from Carolyn J. Luckey. Blewett has also given his campaign a $10,000 loan.


In 2006, Paul Bosacki spent approximately $400 on his bid for a city council seat. This time around, he's raised $5,968 and, so far, spent $1,260 of it. His donations consist of a $1,750 loan from Al Vogler (the husband of Councilwoman Rita Vogler) and two loans totaling $1,360 from the candidate's own pocket, as well as $1,108 in signs from Lisa Kelso.


Rochelle Garner also has filed a 470 form, and has declared that she will not raise nor spend more than $1,000 in her bid for a council seat.


Mark Kirk is a newcomer to Hesperia politics, but is a veteran of the San Bernardino County political scene, which shows in his financial disclosure forms. So far this year, Kirk has raised $74,828 and spent $96,939. All told, his campaign is $50,271 in debt as of September 30. Kirk's biggest donors include $5,000 from the San Bernardino County Fire Fighters Local 935 political action committee, a $2,500 donation from the Adams for Assembly 2008 committee, $2,000 donations from the Lewis Investment Group, and Liquid Management Group, $1,500 donations from K & K Developers and the BIA of Southern California political action committee and $1,000 donations from Matich Corporation, Palm Desert Development Company and the SB County Safety Employees' Benefit Association. Kirk also received $5,000 loans from the campaign committees of San Bernardino County Supervisors Paul Biane, Dick Larsen, Brad Mitzelfelt and Gary Ovitt (Kirk's employer) and another $5,000 loan from the Friends of Mike Ramos campaign committee.


The Committee to Re-elect Mike Leonard has raised $6,341 to date, and has spent $2,056 of it. The only contributor to make a donation over $1,000 was the San Bernardino County Fire Fighters Local 935 political action committee, which gave him $2,000. Leonard loaned himself $1,075 and Al Vogler has loaned him $1,750.


School board


Hesperia Unified School District school board candidate Chris Bentley's campaign committee has raised $14,826 to date, and spent $10,527 as of September 30. Bentley has donated $1,826 to his campaign and loaned his committee another $13,000.


Bruce Henson filed a 470 form on which he declares that he will raise and spend less than $1,000 on his campaign.


Frank Rich has raised $2,277 to date, and spent $2,160 of it. Of that, $1,414 was a non-monetary contribution by the Hesperia Schools First political action committee, paying the candidate ballot statement fee.


School board candidate Anthony Riley's campaign has raised $10,568 as of September 30, and spent $9,872. Riley's biggest donors include a $2,500 donation from the Committee to Elect Brad Mitzelfelt and a $5,000 loan from the Committee to Elect Gary C. Ovitt Supervisor. He also received $1,617 in non-monetary contributions from HEAPAC -- the Hesperia Education Association Political Action Committee -- in the form of campaign signs. (The Hesperia Teachers Association was previously known as the Hesperia Education Association.)


Former school board member Eric Swanson's new campaign committee has raised $6,063 as of September 30, and spent all but $995. The Hesperia Schools First political action committee paid for his $1,414 ballot statement and Swanson made a $2,240 non-monetary contribution to his campaign in the form of signs and lumber.


The political arm of the Hesperia teachers' union, HEAPAC raised $2,800 this reporting period, bringing their total fund-raising this year to $25,545 -- all of it from the Hesperia Teachers Association. The war chest has been growing for some time now, and despite spending $1,818 this reporting period -- all of it expenses related to campaign signs for Riley, their endorsed candidate -- they still have $53,927 on hand.


Financial disclosure forms for candidate Chris Lindsay were not available from the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voter's office, nor were the forms for Hesperia Schools First political action committees available by press time.


Al Vogler


According to the forms due on October 6, Al Vogler has spent $3,500 on local campaigns to date this season, and is not done yet: Also releasing forms this period was the Hesperia Free Press, a political action committee organized by him.


The PAC was created, according to the forms, to oppose the candidacies of Kirk, Blewett and school board candidate Riley and to support the candidacies of school board candidates Lindsay and Rich. Vogler himself is the lone contributor to the PAC, having given $9,500 of his own money to date. The PAC has not spent any money as of September 30.


If Hesperia Free Press spends all of its money, Vogler will have spent $13,000, making him the single largest individual contributor to other people's campaigns in 2008.


Future disclosure forms


Campaign disclosure forms covering the period between October 1 and October 18 is covered in a filing due October 23. Contributions received between October 19 and November 3 must be reported in special filings within 24 hours of receipt. The comprehensive list of contributions received between October 19 and December 31 is due on February 2, 2009.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.