As Bellevue City Council candidates make their final campaign pitches, their spending has reached new heights.
Three candidates have raised more than $100,000 each, a threshold never before reached by any campaign.
In one race — Kevin Wallace’s campaign for re-election over challenger Steve Kasner — independent expenditures by groups affiliated with competing business and labor interests have pushed totals even higher.
Wallace has raised $135,538 to Kasner’s $66,734, not counting independent spending.
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The top fundraiser, Vandana Slatter, an Amgen medical liaison, has raised $157,778, much of it her own money. Her opponent for an open seat, physical therapist Lynne Robinson, has raised $80,800.
Mayor Conrad Lee has raised $111,020 to spend. His challenger, first-time candidate Lyndon Heywood, has reported no contributions.
Independent-expenditure campaigns — business interests on one side, labor and environmental groups on the other — have jumped into the fray, but so far not as heavily as in the 2011 election.
Two years ago, many of the same interests spent $111,000 to make independent pitches in two races.
So far this year, the Chamber of Commerce-affiliated Eastside Business Alliance and the liberal Fuse Washington-connected Eastside Progress have spent $23,000, mostly on the Kasner-Wallace race.
Three Eastside Progress mailers attack Wallace as a “big developer” who, along with Bellevue Square developer Kemper Freeman Jr., puts business interests ahead of those of Bellevue families.
Eastside Progress has reported expenditures of $17,047.
Major contributors to the ad campaign included Fuse Washington, Bellevue Firefighters, Service Employees International Union and Washington Conservation Voters.
Wallace has complained that Kasner and his supporters have unfairly characterized him as favoring developers over others, opposing Sound Transit’s planned light-rail system, and facing conflicts between council business and his own financial interests.
Kasner’s campaign says Wallace has inaccurately portrayed him as overly partisan, lacking support from key leaders and failing to fight for community roads and sidewalks.
Two Eastside Business Alliance videos, using a softer approach, describe Wallace as “a collaborative problem solver” and say Slatter “has stayed true to Bellevue’s values of cooperation, collaboration and problem solving.”
The Business Alliance has spent $2,500 supporting Wallace and an equal amount for Slatter.
Slatter has also benefited from a $3,141 Planned Parenthood telephone campaign.
Business Alliance contributors include Kemper Holdings, Property Development Corp., Republic Services and Wallace Properties.
Kevin Wallace is president of Wallace Properties, which gave $1,000 to the Business Alliance for the Bellevue council campaigns and $1,125 for other city, county and port races.
Independent expenditures cannot be coordinated in any way with the campaigns of the candidates they support. PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson said Wallace Properties’ contributions to the independent pro-Wallace ads are legal if they were made without Kevin Wallace’s involvement.
Kevin and his father, Wallace Properties CEO Bob Wallace, could not be reached for comment Friday. Jim Hill, chair of the Eastside Business Alliance, said he knew of no involvement by Kevin Wallace in the independent-expenditure campaign.
Bob Wallace has often contributed to the campaigns of his son and allied council candidates. Bob Wallace, Freeman and Issaquah developer Skip Rowley underwrote $69,000 of independent expenditures in two council races in 2011 — but failed to elect either of their preferred candidates.
Slatter also learned this year that large expenditures don’t always translate into votes. She outspent Robinson but trailed her by 22 percentage points when votes were counted. Now that her name is more familiar to voters, Slatter is counting on a larger turnout of more moderate voters Tuesday to produce a different result.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or email@example.com