Other donors giving the $400 maximum amount included the Apartment Assoc. of Denver to Stewart, Shahrezaei and Arlen. Colorado Association of Realtors gave $400 each to Sophia, Davis and Arlen.
Developers of Lakewood’s Rooney Valley have an interest in Lakewood’s City Council races because they are expected to ask the new Council for a special district designation to help facilitate their development of the largest remaining parcel of undeveloped land in Lakewood. Marcus Pachner of the Pachner Group, gave $200 each to Strom, Davis, Keefe and Arlen. Another Rooney Valley developer, Mickleberry of Cardel Homes gave $400 to Stewart as did Tim Walsh of Confluence Real Estate.
A couple of pro-development labor unions joined in donating to the pro-growth candidates. The Pipefitters Union gave $500 each to Shahrezaei, Strom and Keefe. The Communication Workers Union gave the $400 maximum to Shahrezaei and Keefe.
As a result of the generous funding from pro-development forces the city’s races have become a David versus Goliath battle for a band of independent candidates that rely entirely upon individual donations.
In Ward 1, schoolteacher and Planning Commissioner Cathy Kentner has raised $7,376 to oppose Shahrezaei’s $26,260 campaign funds and $32,548 in support from the IEC for a 8 to 1 mismatch. In Ward 3, incumbent Mike Bieda has raised $8,529 against Stewart’s $26,024. Including the $30,831 being spent by her supporting IEC, Stewart is backed by $56,855 for an 7 to 1 ratio against Bieda.
In the race for two seats in Ward 5, the pro-growth candidates Tom Keefe raised $19,712 and Wendi Strom raised $24,618 in their nearly year-long campaigns. The two independent candidates, Michael Gunstanson raised $2,145 and Mary Janssen raised $2,852 in their short, three month campaigns.
The only race that is even remotely close is the Ward 4 race between former Council candidate Rich Olver versus newcomer Christopher Arlen. In the sixteen months of his second campaign (his first campaign was a lost to Barb Franks in 2019) Arlen has raised $16,770. Olver has raised $6,363 mostly from his own contributions. This contest is only a 2.5 to 1 ratio.
In a secret eleventh hour attempt to reverse the recent trend toward slower growth a coalition of pro-development special interests flooded the campaign coffers of seven candidates to this year’s Lakewood City Council races. With six of Lakewood ‘s eleven City Council seats at stake the influx of tens of thousands of dollars from outside interests threaten to reverse the city’s strategic growth initiative passed by citizens in 2019.
In the last minute campaign finance reports due just seven days before Lakewood’s November 2 election, it was revealed Denver lobbyist Lynea Hansen formerly of Strategies 360 created a couple of independent expenditure committees (IEC) to support the election of candidates committed to promoting development. Under Lakewood’s 2019 campaign finance laws these committees are not subject to the limit of $400 per donor. Instead they can collect unlimited amounts to spend to support or oppose candidates of their choosing.
This last minute infusion of special interest money funded a final weekend of a get out the vote effort to support the election of members of an informal slate of “progressive” democrats committed to promoting more housing construction.
Hansen’s IEC creations included Friends of Jeslin which raised $32,548 to support the election of Jeslin Shahrezaei to the Ward 1 seat vacated by Ramey Johnson who is term-limited.
A second IEC called Friends of Rebekah raised $30,831 to support Rebekah Stewart who is challenging Ward 3 incumbent Mike Bieda.
Funding for these IECs came from just two donors. The National Realtors Group out of Chicago donated $48,378 and The Metro Housing Coalition (the campaign arm of the Home Builders Association) donated another $15,000.
In addition to the IEC contributions, the development special interests also donated to the individual campaigns of the pro-growth slate. These contributions were limited to a maximum of $400. The Metro Housing Coalition / Home Builders Association also gave the maximum allowable contributions of $400 to each of the other establishment candidates: Shahrezaei, Stewart, Charles Davis (Ward 2), Sophia (Ward 2), Wendi Strom (Ward 5), and Tom Keefe (Ward 5).
2021 City Council Elections - Special Interests Still Trying to Buy Control
|Ward||Candidate||Start Date||Months||Campaign Funds||* Dark Money||Total Monies|
Establishment candidates in Italics Independent candidates in BOLD
* Dark Money - Independent Expenditure Committees - Outside special interests - no contribution limits