Story updated Thursday 9am
Political strategists say money is crucial to getting re-elected because it buys the one thing no candidate can ever have enough of: publicity.
But raising money on the local level can be challenging, especially for political outsiders like Steve Jordan and Eleanor Sluis.
The 59-year-old Jordan, who owns Creekside Bakery, has raised just $700, which he will use for posters and putting up a website. Retired teacher and community activist Eleanor Sluis is not even trying to raise funds, saying that it’s not in her make-up to “ask for money.”
“People know who I am and what I stand for,” Sluis said. “I’ve attended the meetings and community events and spoke up about the issues. If people want to donate, they should give money to the downtown Novato Theater.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Pat Eklund has raised $23,000 while first-term Councilwoman Denise Athas has $17,000. Indeed, Eklund and Athas posters can be seen in many parts of Novato, whereas Jordan’s and Sluis’s are hard to find.
But even if Jordan and Sluis can't flex the same financial muscle, they have portrayed themselves as straight shooters whose only political ambition is fueled by improving Novato, not climbing to higher office.
“I didn’t even want to run,” said Jordan, who waited until the very last day to file his candidacy. “I wanted to see who else would enter the race.”
Jordan has described the current council as "out of touch" with average Novatoans. He, on the other hand, has always worked close to the people, he said, whether at the bakery, as owner of Gift Carousel, a downtown store, or Egger’s Nursery, where he worked in operations and sales.
“I’ve always had a connection with the residents. You get a good sense of who the people are because you get a chance to talk to them,” he said.
Jordan says he’s against extending Measure F, something he calls “obscene,” and against Plan Bay Area, chaffing at what he describes as state impositions about where and how much housing Novato should build.
“I don’t like the mandate,” he said. “I think that the city of Novato can handle its own needs.”
He understands that affordable housing is needed, especially for younger people, like his own children, who are just starting out in life. But he says Novato has always been a bedroom community and building more apartments doesn’t really make sense.
“If you want a house, you are not going to move into an apartment,” he said. "I don’t believe in subsidies. If you don’t pay into it, you don’t buy into it. In my bakery, if you can’t afford the big cake, you buy the smaller cake, and if you can’t afford the small cake, you get a slice."
In Jordan parlance, that means buying property elsewhere.
Eleanor Sluis, meanwhile, is positioning herself as a no-nonsense fiscal watchdog who wants to reign in government waste and push for pension reform. She says she wants to find a way to reduce returns to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System from the current 7.5 percent to between 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent.
Cities now have to make up the difference if CalPERS doesn’t make enough money. As a result, Novato owes roughly $18 million in pension obligation bonds to the system.
Another is fiscal responsibility and living within the city’s means, something she learned while growing up in the Midwest, she said.
“Residents did not vote for new full-time advisors, consultants, and a public relations coordinator to tout the city’s small-town atmosphere,” she recently told the Novato Advance.
Sluis has served on the Marin County Civil Grand Jury and the Novato Strategic Oversight Vision 2028 Committee, and ran for a council seat in 2011.
Who will you be voting for in November?