East County News Service
Photos, left to right: Stephen Houlahan, Mason Herron, and Dustin Trotter
November 7, 2016 (Santee) — Santee City Council candidate Mason Herron has raked in $58, 246 in campaign contributions from 131 individuals, of whom only 6 live in Santee, including himself. That’s 95% of donations coming from outside Santee.
By contrast, Stephen Houlahan has raised 78% of his $9,302 in donations from 28 Santee residents. Dustin Trotter has raised $16,663, of which 73% are from 13 people in Santee.
Herron’s donors include substantial funds from developers and real estate interests, including executives at HomeFed Corporation, owner of Fanita Ranch, TC Construction, Newland, Cornerstone and Mastercraft Homes. Representatives of major banks such as Wells Fargo, construction companies, engineers and real estate interests are also among his contributors.
Houlahan by contrast has accepted zero developer donations and is running on a platform of preserving quality of life in Santee and stopping traffic gridlock. He previously led the successful effort to block a gas-fired power plant near Mission Trails Regional Park. He is endorsed by Preserve Wild Santee’s founder Van Collinsworth. On his website, Houlahan, who has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) writes,” Santee is at a crossroads. We must decide whether to maintain our friendly small town setting or succumb to unbalanced high-density development of our scenic views.”
Herron, district director for Assemblyman Brian Jones, says he wants to “uphold the legacy of progress in Santee” and “help our city maintain a thriving business climate, implement balanced budgets, keep taxes low, maintain minimal pension liabilities, and upgrade our infrastructure.”
Trotter, owner of TDT Construction, says he would work to have “a business friendly environment where we cut red tape and get government out of the way of small business” as well as improving infrastructure.
A hit piece mailer sent by a political action committee in Vista aimed to discredit Houlahan by falsely claiming Houlahan has not disclosed financial interests. In fact, Houlahan has fully disclosed his source of income (Sharp Healthcare) on Schedule C, Form 700. The mailer also claims Houlahan is under investigation by the FPPC but cites no grounds; in fact, the FPPC does not disclose if it is investigating anyone unless a finding of wrongdoing is made.
Collinsworth suspects developers are behind the flyer, aiming to confuse voters. He adds “The complaint was originated by someone notorious for filing complaints without merit against political opponents… Houlahan is the only candidate in the race Santee voters can count on to represent their interests over developers.”