Newcomer Skylar Peak Is Top City Council Campaign Fundraiser
• Only Three of Seven Candidates Are Running Traditional Campaigns with Voter Outreach
BY BILL KOENEKER
In an interesting insight in the city council race for three seats on April 10, candidate Skylar Peak, a relative newcomer to the local political scene, has topped all of the other candidates at collecting campaign funds for the first required reporting period.
The reporting period extends from Jan. 1 to Feb. 25, 2012.
Peak raised over $15,975 from contributors, who live in and outside of Malibu.
He is followed by Councilmember John Sibert, who is attempting to retain his seat. Sibert has collected $10,750, including a $1000 loan to himself, and his forms indicate that he started collecting contributions as far back as December even though he held off making his candidacy public until the last week for filing.
Planning Commissioner Joan House, who has already served two terms on the council, collected a total of $7300 in contributions including a $1000 loan to herself.
Some city hall observers have been quick to point out that the candidate who has collected the most contributions found him or herself among the winning candidates.
The other four candidates who have promised to run non-traditional campaigns and rely more on the Internet and social media appear to be keeping their word, for the most part.
Council candidate Andy Lyon reported taking in no money and not spending any funds on his campaign.
Council hopeful and fellow surfer Hamish Patterson also reported raising no campaign funds and not spending any money.
Missy Zeitsoff filled out her forms by telling government officials she promises to spend less than $1000 and would be exempt from itemizing revenues and expenses.
The committee to Elect Hans Laetz to Malibu City Council 2012 reported taking in $2200, with Laetz loaning himself $2000.
Almost all of the candidates, to date, have one thing in common. Though most of them have promised to support local businesses, they have spent almost all of their advertising money elsewhere, with five of the candidates sending checks to New York City to pay for Internet advertising.
That brings up one of the biggest underlying issues of the campaign: how to reach the voters and what media or venue are best suited to accomplish that. All of the candidates have agreed to attend the forums and indicated that they will respond to written questionnaires.
At least two of the candidates are banking solely on cyberspace via websites, blogs and other social media. This means that voters have to make an effort to learn these candidates' views, rather than the views being brought to the voters by traditional campaign routes.
That might explain why even the candidates who seem the most tradition bound are motivated to spend thousands of dollars on the Web, hoping the demographic matches up to the profile of the average Malibu voter.
Peak is playing it both ways. As is apparent on Point Dume and Malibu West and other areas, he has kept at least one tradition alive and was the first to start putting up candidate signs in front yards. Reportedly two other candidates also have signs ready to put up.
With his treasure chest, Peak has also been able to spend more dollars for high visibility on the campaign trail, including campaign consultants. His form also lists such traditional political promotion as hats and several campaign mailings.
At the same time, Peak has spent $3280 with AOL's Patch Media Corporation in New York City of the total $11,330 that has been expended.
By comparison, Sibert has only spent about a third of his war chest, nearly $3124. Most of his expenditures, or almost $2000, has been spent with the AOL Patch corporation.
House has spent $2752 during the reporting period. Her largest expense so far were payments of $1546 to the New York city-based AOL subsidiary.
The spending figures from the campaign reporting forms show that no candidates have used print or Malibu-based media to try to reach local voters.
The amount of money spent on advertising, thus far, may reflect a possible trend in local political advertising that has also become apparent on a state and national scale. This is the first time that the almost 1000 Patch venues have been available for campaigns in the cities in which they are located.
Whether this proves to be the way to go in local elections may depend on how it synchronizes with another local trend that is evident in census data , the "graying of Malibu," with some demographic analysts saying in a short time 40 percent of the population of Malibu will be 55 or older.
That has not been the target group cited by those whose job it is to sell advertising on websites and other Internet mediums. The outcome of the local election could influence a rethinking of this attitude.
It, of course, remains to be seen how Malibu's changing demographics will be reflected in how candidates are trying to communicate with the voters and the outcome of the election.
When it comes to contributions, Peak drew from a wide array of local individuals, one of the most notable being Andy Benton, the President of Pepperdine University, who donated $250. Peak is a graduate of the school.
Other locals include businessmen and their wives such as David and Anna Anawalt, who both contributed $250, Michael and Lonnie Osterman, who also both contributed $250, Peter Morton, who donated $250, and Khalil Rafati, who gave $250.
Other well-known locals who gave $250 to Peak include Madelyn Glickfeld, Ozzie Silna and each of his family members, Brian Strange, Stephen Shapiro, Ben Stein, David Ulich, Bart and Wendy Baker, John and Wendy Hildebrand and many other Point Dume residents.
Some of the most notable locals donating funds to Sibert include current Mayor Laura Rosenthal, Ken Kearsley, Ed Niles, Leo Ziffren, Michael Novotny, Al Ehringer, David Fox, Robert LaBonge, Marlene Matlow, Paul Shoop, David and Anna Anawalt.
There is also a large pool of self-described retired voters of about 15.
Other notables outside of Malibu include lobbyist Susan McCabe and Margaret Randall.
House had many of the same contributors as Sibert. Some of the locals are Sharon Barovsky, Lloyd Ahern, Charlene Sperber, Barry Haldeman, Ken and Barbara Kearsley, who is House's treasurer.
There were 18 self-described retirees who also donated, many of whom gave $100.