CITY HALL — A handful of Santa Monica City Council and school board candidates opened up big fundraising leads during the first half of the year while most hopefuls in November’s election had yet to begin raising money, campaign disclosure statements show.

In the City Council race, Terry O’Day, who was appointed to the body in February after the death of Mayor Ken Genser, was the early money leader with $19,975 raised between Jan. 1 and June 30, putting him way ahead of the second-place fundraiser, challenger Ted Winterer, who brought in $11,655.

Councilwoman Gleam Davis, who along with O’Day is running for a two-year council seat, raised $3,200 during the period and loaned her campaign an additional $2,500.

Incumbents Kevin McKeown and Bob Holbrook, meanwhile, had yet to begin seeking donations in earnest. McKeown received no donations during the period and Holbrook received just one — a $250 gift from Mayor Bobby Shriver, whose council term lasts until 2012. (Holbrook, though, had a campaign balance of $3,241.31.)

Four-term council incumbent Pam O’Connor received zero donations during the period but had a campaign balance of $1,245.40, records showed.

Rent Control Commissioner Robert Kronovet, another candidate for a two-year seat on the council, raised $3,835 during the period. Jean McNeil Wyner, a candidate for a four-year term, raised $600.

Only candidates who raise at least $1,000 are required to file disclosure forms. Many candidates for the council didn’t reach that limit in the first six months of the year.

Candidates must file additional statements before the Nov. 2 election detailing their campaign season fundraising activity.

On the school board side, challenger Nimish Patel was in the fundraising lead as of June 30 with $21,200 in donations. Laurie Lieberman, also a challenger, was in second place with $10,550.

None of the three incumbent candidates for re-election to the board, Barry Snell, Ralph Mechur and Oscar de la Torre, reported raising money during the first six months of the year.

Reached on Wednesday, Patel, a relative new comer to local politics who became a school district activist in 2008, said early fundraising success was especially important because he’s taking on more established candidates in his bid for a school board seat.

“It really shows support and gives momentum to show people that you are a viable candidate,” he said. “I have to assume that I might have to raise more money than the other candidates.”

nickt@smdp.com

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