Assembly members have their favorites, too

Posted: Sunday, October 05, 2003

The political lines have been drawn in the races for mayor and the Juneau Assembly as several Assembly members have aligned themselves with Dan Peterson and Bruce Botelho or with Dale Anderson and Dick Knapp, according to an analysis of campaign financial-disclosure forms.

The election is Tuesday. Botelho and Knapp are squaring off for the mayor's job, and Peterson is challenging incumbent Anderson for an Assembly District 2 seat.

More Assembly members favor Peterson over Anderson, forms filed recently with the Alaska Public Offices Commission show.

Mayor Sally Smith and Assembly members Jim Powell and Stan Ridgeway each donated $50 to Peterson. Assembly member Marc Wheeler donated $80 to Peterson. Smith has publicly endorsed Botelho, and Powell gave Botelho $100 and Ridgeway gave $75.

In the Anderson camp, Assembly member Ken Koelsch and his wife, Marian, each donated $100. Koelsch also donated to Knapp but declined to say how much. The amount was not listed on Knapp's financial-disclosure form and Knapp did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Assembly member Randy Wanamaker donated $100 to Anderson and $150 to Knapp.

Assembly members Jeannie Johnson and Merrill Sanford have not donated to any candidates, according to the forms and interviews with Anderson and Peterson.

Botelho's treasurer, Larry Persily, donated $100 to Peterson. Knapp's treasurer, Laraine Derr, offset that with $100 to Anderson. Knapp's wife, Pamela, also gave $100 to Anderson.

According to campaign financial disclosure forms filed seven days before the election, the breakdown for candidates is as follows:

• Botelho's total income is $27,579 and expenses are $23,993.

• Knapp has more income at $28,910 but spent less, at $18,397.

• Anderson has raised $15,480. He spent $4,650.

• Peterson's income totals $10,678 with $2,910 in expenses.

• David Stone, who is running unopposed for the District 1 Assembly seat, has a total income of $13,530 with $4,557 in expenditures.

Compared to the 2000 mayoral/Assembly races, candidates this year are raising more money, according to disclosure forms. At this point in the 2000 campaign, Smith had a total income of $15,434 with $11,000 in expenses, according to her seven-day report. Her opponent, Jamie Parsons, had $24,181 in income and spent $20,837.

Assembly members' income and expenses are generally higher this year as well.

Smith said many races come down to money and she wanted to ensure that Peterson had a fair shot at winning. Smith also favors Peterson's style and viewpoints, she said.

"I didn't know if he'd have contributions to keep pace (with Anderson)," Smith said. "Dan has an inclusive outlook. He is able to view a broader cross section of the community."

The state campaign financial-disclosure law changed effective Sept. 14. Before, contributions of $100 or less were private. Now candidates are required to report the names and addresses of all contributors regardless of the amount given, the new law states. For contributions of more than $250 in a calendar year, contributors' occupations and employers must be disclosed, the law says.

Powell said Peterson, a Juneau School Board member, will be an advocate for education on the Assembly.

"I know him well and believe he works well with others," Powell said. "He's a wealth of knowledge for education because he has been on the School Board."

Powell supports Botelho because he's a friend who's been a "proven leader" at the local level, he said.

Koelsch said Anderson has experience Peterson doesn't have.

"We're in for rough financial weather and Dale's experience is absolutely needed on the Assembly," Koelsch said.

Koelsch described Anderson's contacts with the state Legislature as "invaluable." "I think people should donate to whom they believe will do a great job in Juneau," he added.

Anderson was a House Finance Committee legislative assistant from 2000 to 2002.

Wanamaker could not be reached for comment.

Peterson said the disclosure forms reflect political divisions in the community. Some Assembly members share views closer to his than Anderson's, Peterson said.

"Bruce and I are working with a lot of the same people," he said. "I've known Bruce for many years."

Botelho and Peterson, both Eagle Scouts, know each other through the Southeast Alaska Boy Scout Council.

Anderson played down the lack of support from some of his colleagues on the Assembly.

"These actions are not surprising based on the 5-4 split that happens often on Assembly votes," Anderson said. "I don't view the 5-4 split as detrimental, but view it as a strength because it's a virtual mirror of our community."

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