Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat

Candidates in the race for Calaveras County Board of Supervisors District 4, a district that spans from Copperopolis to Vallecito along Highway 4, are running neck-and-neck in campaign fundraising less that two weeks from the Nov. 6 election.

A strong October propelled challenger and former Angels Camp Mayor Debbie Ponte ahead of seven-term incumbent Tom Tryon by a hair. Ponte leads Tryon by just $412, $16,838 to $16,426, for the duration of the campaign, but outraised him by a little more than $2,400 so far this month, according to documents filed Thursday with the Calaveras County Elections Office.

The difference is almost entirely made up of a $2,400 loan by Ponte to her own campaign. Heavyweights spending in the race this month include the CDF firefighters union, with $920 in donations to Ponte, while major landowner and timber harvester Sierra Pacific Industries gave $750 to Tryon.

Tryon has spent from his campaign coffers at a faster clip, leaving Ponte with about $4,000 more in cash entering the final two weeks of the campaign.

The District 2 race in the northeastern portion of the county - including communities like Mokelumne Hill, West Point, Mountain Ranch and Paloma - has drawn the most spending. Chris Wright, of Rail Road Flat, has held a consistent edge moneywise against opponent Bryce Randall, of West Point.

Only Wright filed a disclosure statement by Thursday's deadline among the pair. A pair of Bay Area unions combined to give $2,500 to Wright this month as his fundraising neared the $35,000 mark. Randall was closing in on $20,000 when he last filed on Oct. 5.

District 1 incumbent Gary Tofanelli met Thursday's deadline but challenger Cliff Edson did not. Tofanelli's largest contribution came as $750 from Sierra Pacific Industries and he also picked up $100 from Calaveras County Deputy Sheriffs' Association president Sgt. Tracy Busby. He has totaled $11,783 throughout the campaign. His campaign spending included a combined $1,220 in donations to the Valley Springs Elementary School and Valley Springs Youth Center.

Edson reported contributions of $8,314.45 as of his latest filing on Oct. 11 and was boosted by a $1,300 donation through his own restaurant, Country Cliff's in San Andreas, and $100 from wife Sylvia.

In the race for San Joaquin Delta Community College District trustee for northern Calaveras County, incumbent Steve Castellanos holds a fundraising lead against challenger Dave Tanner of $12,970 to $8,431.50.

About half of Castellano's contributions have come in $6,750 worth of loans from wife Linda Derivi.

Tanner has received $4,000 from the San Joaquin Delta Teachers Association PAC and also $1,000 from Valley Springs developer Thomas Coe and wife Norma.

Tanner has represented Coe on projects including a proposed Delta College branch campus in Valley Springs.

There are disclosure statements from just one candidate in each of three other races in the county.

Calaveras Unified School District Trustee Sherri Reusche has spent $3,629.79 in an effort to retain her seat, including her own contribution of $1,122.56.

Mark Twain Health Care District candidate Jerry Lucas spent $149.60 on newspaper advertising this month and has spent $3,219.26 throughout the campaign to secure one of two open seats on the board.

Vallecito Union School District hopeful Tom Pratt raised $2,299.03 including $1,083.04 from himself and wife Kimberly. His spending includes $733 on slate mailers Election Digest, California Voter Guide and Budget Watchdogs Newsletter.

Contact Sean Janssen at or 890-7741.