The donors behind the campaign gifts |

The donors behind the campaign gifts

A quarter of a million dollars has reached the coffers of the five candidates in the running for the two open seats on the Nevada County Board of Supervisors – enough, if divvied up, for every person in the county to buy a large cup of coffee and still have change left over for a tip.

Most of this money to finance the costly campaigns found its origins in the pockets of the county’s residents who say they donated with no strings attached, and because they believe in certain candidates and what they stand for.

The support from these residents, however, can reveal just how deep similarities and connections may run – or may not run – between certain candidates in an officially nonpartisan race.

It may be no surprise to many that District 3 contender Bruce Conklin and District 1 hopeful Olivia Diaz share links tying them to organizations such as the Nevada County Land Trust, the Sierra Business Council, and the Rural Quality Coalition. Other connections link them to residents who are part of small businesses, are self-employed, or are retired.

These connections could serve to solidify their liberal stance and environmental priorities. The two also have been officially endorsed by the Nevada County Democratic Central Committee.

On the other side of the contributor fence are District 1 candidate Nate Beason and District 3 candidate John Spencer, who share supporters such as the Nevada County Contractors Association, the Nevada County Republican Central Committee, and successful local real estate businesses.

“We certainly expect them to live by the Republican values, or we wouldn’t give them the money.” said Tony Gilchrease, chairman of the Nevada County Republican Central Committee.

Russ Steele, owner of The InsightWorks and a writer, said his support of Beason and Spencer is because “I’ve known them for a long time and they are personal friends.” Steele said he believes Beason and Spencer may personally side with the Republican Party, “but they are not activists, in the sense that they are not promoting anything.”

District 3 candidate Linda Stevens is the only candidate who has seemed to shy away from showing too many similarities between herself and her opponents, which may make her attempt at appearing nonpartisan possibly the most successful. Stevens said much of her support comes from old friends or residents who donate in small amounts to her tip jar at her barber shop.

Stevens’ lone common donor link is with her own opponent – Spencer. The two have both received money from Edward Sylvester, the president of SCO Planning and Engineering and a prominent local developer.

Sylvester could not be reached for comment about his decision to donate to two candidates contending for the same seat.

Stevens also shares a link with Beason. Both have used Donna Kingwell of Kingwell Consulting to aid in their campaign. Kingwell is a Republican who, on Oct. 14, was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as interim associate secretary of external affairs for the Health and Human Services Agency.

For her services as a consultant, Beason spent more than $20,000 on Kingwell earlier in his campaign, and Stevens has paid her $1,800, according to the candidates’ financial reports.

The Republican Central Committee said they opted to support Spencer over her or Diaz in a meeting earlier in the year where all candidates and their positions were considered.

“I am pretty impressed (with Stevens). I think she is relatively conservative, at least fiscally conservative,” Gilchrease said.

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