I bet the people who gave Tempe City Councilman Ben Arredondo get much more then $151,000 in kick backs and contracts.


Arredondo raises $151K for city council campaign Incumbent councilman raises more than all opponents combined

by Grayson Steinberg published on Wednesday,

February 8, 2006

Advance planning and a fear of intense competition in the March Tempe City Council primary led incumbent Councilman Ben Arredondo to raise about five times more money than all his opponents combined.

Arredondo raised $151,367 through Dec. 31, 2005, compared to about $28,000 combined for the other four candidates, according to campaign finance documents released last week.

The councilman's total includes $46,624 left over from his previous campaigns, the documents state.

Arredondo said he was told last year 23 people had requested information on running for City Council, more than four times the current number of candidates in the race.

"That's why we started so early and that's why we started so hard," he added.

Sixteen people requested information on how to become a City Council candidate, according to the City Clerk's Office. Only 10 of these individuals actually created campaign committees.

Arredondo also said his consultants advised him to raise $80,000 to $100,000 for the entire election period, including a potential runoff.

"They always say you have to assume that there's going to be a run-off," he said.

Arredondo said he had so much money because he wasn't ashamed to ask for contributions and he and his family are well-known in the city.

Arredondo is a life-long Tempe resident. He and his six brothers grew up in the city and attended local schools, including ASU.

"I would hope it would not be that difficult for the Arredondos to raise money," he added.

Candidates can raise or spend an unlimited amount of money in city council elections, said City Clerk Kathy Matz. Individual campaign contributions are restricted to $370 per person.

Arredondo said he doesn't plan to raise any more money. The funds remaining after the election will go toward scholarships for college students, he added.

None of Arredondo's competitors said they objected to his massive fundraising.

"He was an effective fundraiser," said Councilman Leonard Copple. "He's just good at raising money."

Challenger Shana Ellis said she wouldn't change her ultimate goal of raising $40,000 or alter her campaign strategies.

There was no way she could match Arredondo's fundraising, she said.

"He's been in office for 12 years," Ellis said. "His base is a lot larger than those who haven't run before."

Onnie Shekerjian, another challenger, said Arredondo was a methodical planner who would collect all the necessary resources to win an election.

She added that she would have to be a more cautious spender than the councilman, but that wouldn't hurt her campaign, either.

"It's not going to keep me from walking neighborhoods and meeting people," Shekerjian added.

Grassroots efforts like talking to potential voters directly and spreading a campaign message, not money, were the keys to winning an election, Shekerjian said.

If Arredondo had performed badly as a councilman, she added, all the money in the world wouldn't help him.

Challenger Corey Woods, who is an ASU graduate student, said Arredondo's success reflected overall flaws in the campaign financing system and personal criticism of the councilman for raising so much money wasn't justified.

Future candidates could potentially be intimidated by a perceived need to raise $100,000, Woods said. This would discourage working-class people from running.

"They're not going to be able to raise that kind of money," he added.

Woods, who raised $3,882, the least of any candidate, said his lack of funds placed him at a disadvantage. He said he had already contributed more than $1,800 of his own money to his campaign.

Less money could lead to steps like fewer colors on a brochure, which would be less expensive, he said.

"You have to get a lot more creative when you have less money to deal with," he said.

Reach the reporter at grayson.steinberg@asu.edu.

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