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Dollars Flowing Freely on Both Sides of Santa Barbara County’s Measure M Infrastructure Initiative

The battle over Measure M — the June 3 ballot initiative that would require Santa Barbara County to maintain roads, parks and buildings in their current conditions, or better — is drawing big money on both sides, including some familiar names as well as some new ones.

Supporters, led by Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam, say Measure M would re-prioritize the county budget to fund infrastructure. Opponents claim the requirement would diminish budgets for public safety and other departments.

The initiative doesn’t provide any funding for the maintenance required and the county is waiting on a report for an estimate of how much it would cost. Auditor-Controller Bob Geis previously has estimated it would be $18 million to $21 million per year.

According to County Elections records, Randall Van Wolfswinkel, a Montecito resident and president of Dallas-based First Texas Homes, has donated $25,000 to oppose Measure M. In 2009, Van Wolfswinkel was one of the top contributors in the Santa Barbara municipal election, spending around $700,000 on Measure B, the unsuccessful attempt to impose height restrictions in downtown Santa Barbara, and council candidates who supported it.

The next year, Van Wolfswinkel contributed to Measure S, the unsuccessful countywide sales tax measure that would have funded a new North County jail. In 2012, he donated $10,000 to Supervisor Salud Carbajal’s re-election campaign, even though Carbajal essentially was unopposed since his challenger withdrew just after ballots were finalized.

Van Wolfswinkel isn’t the only heavy-hitter to put big money into the fight against Measure M. According to campaign filings, the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians donated $25,000, the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Santa Barbara County contributed $20,000 and the Santa Barbara County Fire Fighters government committee put in $10,000.

Carbajal and fellow supervisors Doreen Farr of the Third District and Steve Lavagnino of the Fifth District each gave $5,000 to the No on M effort out of their campaign chests, and the SEIU Local 620 union also contributed $5,000.

The group supporting Measure M had $25,500 on its side by the end of March, the last reporting period. Since then, it has received $40,000 from the Neighborhood Defense League of California, a Montecito-based group, according to County Elections records. One of the organization’s board members, Doug Herthel, gave another $4,000.

Santa Maria Energy has donated $10,000 and CalPortland, a building materials company with operations in Solvang, recently gave $7,500. Santa Ynez Valley resident Lee Rosenberg, president of Solvang’s Vineyard Valley Theatre Company, gave $5,000.

These contributions are being filed daily since campaign finance rules make candidates and groups report all late donations over $1,000. The next regular report, when all money is disclosed, is due May 24.

Ballots have already been mailed for the June 3 election and any questions about the election or ballot materials can be directed to the County Elections office.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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