The race for Elk Grove's first directly elected mayor is shaping up to be a crowded contest with two council incumbents duking it out with five challengers and the fundraising well under way.
The contestants for the largely ceremonial post with a two-year term include council members Gary Davis and Sophia Scherman, along with some other recognizable names.
Of the seven candidates who have pulled papers to run, two had returned necessary documents to the Elk Grove city clerk as of Thursday afternoon. The deadline is next Friday.
Davis' campaign committee has raised $102,000, nearly $60,000 in the first six months of this year. Davis won his first City Council term in 2006. His filing shows support from local businesses and citizens, as well as labor groups.
As mayor, he said, he sees tremendous potential to make Elk Grove economically stronger and safer and to build a vibrant arts and entertainment culture.
Scherman's campaign committee listed a $6,000 loan. Elected to the council in 2000, Scherman ranked third in a six-way contest on June 5 for the 9th Assembly District. She said she was subsequently asked to run for mayor.
Scherman's council district will no longer exist at the end of this term. That's because voters in 2010 approved measures for the direct election of mayor and a reduction in council members to four, down from the current five. That forced a district redraw.
LaWanna Montgomery and Greg Higley previously ran for council seats and also have taken out papers to run for mayor.
Higley, a business owner, waged an unsuccessful challenge for former Councilman Mike Leary's seat in 2008. As mayor, Higley said he would seek to attract more businesses and institutions to Elk Grove to grow the community "and make it a premier city."
Through contributions and a loan, Higley's campaign committee raised just under $1,500 by the end of June.
Montgomery campaigned unsuccessfully in 2004 and 2008 for the seat held by Jim Cooper, who has been on the council since cityhood in 2000 and this year serves as mayor.
Only candidates with active campaign committees were required to file campaign disclosure statements. So Montgomery was not required do so. The same was true of potential candidates Lynn Wheat and Charles S. Shanks.
Neither Montgomery nor Shanks could be reached for comment.
Wheat has been a mainstay at council meetings and an advocate for environmental and zoning issues and the city's participation in the region. The mayoral race would be her first run for public office. She told The Bee in a recent interview that she is taking no contributions.
Candidate Jerry Braxmeyer's campaign committee raised about $21,800 in loans and contributions. The business owner told The Bee that by running, he is responding to citizen concerns about out-of-control spending and too many government regulations.
The Elk Grove mayoral contest marks the first time since cityhood in 2000 that the mayor will be directly elected by the city's voters. In the past, the City Council chose the city's mayor on a more or less annual basis.
Under the newly formulated council, the mayor will provide the fifth vote and be able to appoint constituents to city boards and commissions, including the Planning Commission. The City Council will have the right to reject those appointments.