Update on race for County Assessor – Recorder – Clerk — Republicans Ernie Dronenburg and Jeff Olson take the early fundraising lead

Jim Sills Jim Sills 7 Comments


SD Rostra has learned that Jeff Olson and Ernie Dronenburg, the
two declared Republican candidates for SD County Assessor /
Recorder/ Clerk filed their campaign finance reports early this
week, well before the February 1st deadline.

Jeff Olson reports $14,315 raised, with $9,411 cash-on-hand.
Olson, who serves as “division chief of Assessment services”
in the ARC office, loaned his campaign $8,125.

Ernie Dronenburg, who served 5 terms on the State Board of
Equalization, discloses $110,299 raised, with $110,122 cash-
on-hand. Dronenburg and wife Marilyn report loaning $97,500
to the campaign committee.

Appointed Democratic incumbent David Butler filed a “Candidate
Intention Statement” last October. His current campaign finance
report was not yet on file at the Registrar of Voters as of today.
It is not due until February 1st.

The Assessor/ Recorder/ Clerk job was held for 25 years (1983-
2008) by Republican Greg Smith, who set a high standard of hands-
on public service rarely seen at any level of government. He retired
from the job in December 2008 and returned to the private sector.


Comments 7

  1. In politics, money is money, it’s all green, whether one has raised it or loaned it to themselves. It’s all “spendable.” So, a couple of ways to look at this:

    1) One of the candidates is cleaning clock, or…

    2) One of the candidates is loaning his campaign money, showing a commanding fundraising lead, but not necessarily with the intent of spending those dollars (and, that’s not necessarily a bad strategy, by the way).

    Or, I’ll bite on #3, if someone has a another alternative scenario.

    Jim, your take?

    It would be nice to hear what the respective candidates have to say. Perhaps Thor’s assistant can ask each of them for a statement to post on Rostra, such as was done for the GOP contenders in the Susan Davis seat (?)

  2. How about signing a pledge, that they will take a paycut until better times come around? I don’t understand why these politicians expect a raise while in office. When they ran for office, they knew what the salary was. Doesn’t matter what other counties pay their elected officials.

  3. (This comment was re-added by the editor, as it may have been accidentally deleted.)

    This race will be very interesting in that it is a countywide race and no incumbent to be listed on the ballot. Neither candidate has major name ID. No, I don’t think BOE gives a person a great name ID, even being on the ballot five times, but if you don’t believe me, then ask your neighbor who is their BOE elected and whether they think they have a good or bad impression about the elected?

    As for the money raised, I agree with Barry that there is two viewpoints on the $97,000 plus loan from Ernie in the race.

    A) Ernie is looking at using his personal money to spend for name ID, voter education and/or scare Jeff out of the race;
    B) Ernie is looking to be that blowfish that can expand itself to look really big, but in the end isn’t really that big of a fish and he doesn’t spend the money.

    Regardless of the money on hand from either candidate a countywide race is expensive and both are drops in the bucket. If you don’t have the IEs, slate mailers and certain endorsements for credibility a low ballot ticket item is hard to get noticed. Remember a San Diego mayor’s race can cost millions to run.

    A) Ernie is going to spend and will need to spend more then this amount to get name ID and make a case in favor of himself or against Jeff. Neither candidate really has name ID, no matter the amount someone has run for BOE. As my neighbor who is our BOE.

    and why would someone spend $97,000 plus of their own money for a job that pays how much and does what?

  4. We will be asking each of the candidates for a statement that will published on SD Rostra as a guest column.

  5. Regor,

    Have you ever got a raise in your job? Why did you accept it? Didn’t you know what the salary was when you took the job?

  6. For our readers’ edification, Mat Kostrinsky is a honcho with the local SEIU. Nothing personal, Mat, just info. Glad to see SDR is read by all and that an avenue is provided for some discussion on a local political blog, one that actually has some new content on occasion.

  7. I have been watching this Assessor race ever since Greg Smith resigned. It is obvious that the appointed Assessor, Dave Butler is not going to seek the office, that is why he took the pay raise, and has not even attempted to raise any money. I believe he filed his intent to run for office form to discourage others to run so his friend and co-worker Jeff Olson would not have too many people running against him. If he did decide to run (why would he? he is 100% vested in the ridiculous county pension system, and will get 100% of his salary for LIFE… yes including his $10,000 a year raise on top of the nearly $40,000 a year raise he got last year when he went from Greg Smith’s assistant to the appointed Assessor….. what a joke) he would easily win… no question. The ballot designation of Assessor will win it for him no problem. I would not be surprised if he did decide to run, then work 6 months and then due to health reasons resigned and then the supervisors would appoint Jeff Olson, (kind of like what Smith and the Sheriff did) but hopefully he won’t do that.
    So if Butler does not run, then Jeff Olson who is the Chief of Assessment Services will win. Most people will go into the voting booth without any knowledge of the Assessor, or who is running, or what the Assessor even does. They will make their decision by reading the ballot designation underneath the persons name who is running for office. Chief, Assessment Services, should be enough to get Jeff all the votes he needs. The fear for Jeff is that now Ernie Dronenburg is running and has put in $97,500 of his own cash to spend on his campaign. I am guessing that this is just a threat to keep others out of the race and or try and get Jeff to back out of the race. Jeff you should stay in the race and actually try and convince a few others of your friends to enter the race as well. A few more names on the ballot will dilute the field and make Ernie look like just another person running. You do not want the primary to be a two man race! Ernie can not put on the his ballot designation that he was on the Board of Equalization, even if he could no one knows what that is. He will have to put on accountant, I don’t think he is even a certified public accountant so he can not put that. He might put something else like Accountant/Tax planner, but if it sounds too fishy I would challenge it and make him prove that he made a living doing tax planning. He is hopping that it is a two man race either against you or against a no name like last times Howard Johnson who at the time worked in the assessors office. If he gets you to drop out he would have a great chance to win in the primary, he will buy as many slate mailers as he can and might even buy some COG signs and could even make a bunch of robo calls, maybe even a few radio commercials. He would be the only one spending money on the race. If Jeff Olson does not drop out, and if there are lets say 3 to 5 total candidates on the ballot, Ernie may not spend a dime besides his filling fee and his ballot statement ( which costs $6,550) because he will not win the primary with 50% +1 of the vote (Jeff is the only candidate [unless someone else in the Assessor office has a better ballot designation]who could win in the primary) . He would have to spend even more money in the general election where there will be a less informed electorate and lots more political clutter. Jeff Olson would win as long as he pays for his ballot statement and puts something in the ballot statement like he won’t take a pay raise, or some other populist views. My guess is once Ernie sees that Jeff does not back out and that a few more people file, he will just not spend a dime and then see if he comes in second (this will depend on what the other peoples ballot designations are), then if it becomes a two man race Ernie might spend a good amount of money if he really wants to be Assessor, I am surprised that he is not happy living off his State of California pension, but I guess he is bored. In a two man race in the general Jeff still will more than likely win, unless Ernie spends at least 200K or more, it is an expensive county to break through the political clutter.

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