Merced County Times Newspaper
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Outside money pours in for local candidate

City Council Race

A look at the Campaign Statement Filings with the City of Merced shows some interesting financial developments in the final stretch toward Election Day on Nov. 8.

On Sept. 30, the Youth Power PAC, sponsored by PowerCA Action, filed an Independent Expenditure Report for $33,000 in support of Fue Xiong, a candidate for the District 6 seat on the Merced City Council. At the same time, another $14,500 was filed by the same entity in opposition of Xiong’s opponent, incumbent City Councilman Delray Shelton.

PowerCA Action is a political / social change coalition that is reportedly based in Los Angeles, but also has related IRS tax filings in Oakland. It was originally founded in 2011 under the name Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, and it is known to promote “progressive,” or left-of-center, strategies, along with voter engagement campaigns with immigrants across the state.

According to the Form 496 recorded at City Hall in Merced, the funding drop targeting a race that involves roughly a 1/6 portion of the local population, was supported by individual contributions from people such as a board member of the Los Angeles Unified School District, to a doctor in Ventura County, to a faculty member at Peralta Community College, to a sign language interpreter from the New York City Department of Education.

In contrast, the one Form 496 Independent Expenditure Report that is listed in support of Councilman Shelton is from a group named Citizens For A Better Merced, and it includes names of local residents and groups located within the city. According to the data as of Wednesday morning, Oct. 5, the group has committed less than $2,000 in funding for mailers and print advertisements in support of Shelton.

However, Citizens For A Better Merced has reported a lot more in total campaign donations so far — $76,550 — directed toward all three Merced City Council races going on, and in support of Shelton, and candidates Shane Smith in District 4 and Ronnie De Anda in District 2. The Merced Boosters is the largest contributor so far at $30,000. The Merced Boosters is an organization of local business people and prominent residents who have been instrumental in advocating for the installation of UC Merced, Measure V funding for local transportation improvements, and other area causes.

Councilman Shelton and his opponent, Xiong, are vying to represent District 6, an area in the northern most part of the city that roughly follows G Street north from Yosemite Avenue to Old Lake Road, and has a stretch to the east along Cardella to Gardner, and extends west all the way to Highway 59.

Shelton is finishing up a 4-year term in office. He works in administration at the Merced County Sheriff’s Department. He supports things like the extension of Measure C, a local half-cent sales tax passed in 2006 to help fund police, fire and other projects, along with increased housing construction in all areas of the city, and increased economic development opportunities.

Xiong is an engineer and community activist who is running for office for the first time. He has opposed the Measure C movement, saying it lacks integrity and transparency. He supports things like adding affordable housing quotas to all housing developments in the city, creating a trust fund for affordable housing within the City of Merced coffers, and taking traffic enforcement out of the hands of Merced Police officers.

Xiong has reported a little over $30,000 in cash contributions to his own fundraising campaign during the reporting period of July 1 to Sept 24, not including the Youth Power PAC money.

Delray has reported around $27,000 in cash contributions to his own fundraising campaign during the reporting period of July 1 to Sept 24, not including the Citizens For A Better Merced money.

Campaign contribution information for all City Council candidates can be found on the city’s website, Search for the City Council link, and then click on the Election/Voter Information link.

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