Mike Madriaga 2:30 p.m., Sept. 19
Big Texas money enters San Diego's fourth district city council fray
Austin real estate executive and African safari goer who handles luxury San Diego holdings becomes third major donor to Williams' cause
It's not quite the Rick Perry campaign, but a big-time Texas real estate maven has just kicked in $6750 to that well-heeled independent expenditure committee backing Republican-turned-Democrat Bruce Williams for the fourth district city council seat.
Brenda Tworoger of Austin's Aspen Properties made her contribution to San Diegans for Strong Neighborhoods in Support of Bruce Williams for City Council 2013 on Wednesday, according to a disclosure filing dated yesterday and posted online by the San Diego city clerk's office.
That makes Tworoger the second largest contributor to the fund, behind Annie Malcolm, wife of fallen port district commissioner David Malcolm, who gave $7500. Local mega-developer Tom Sudberry has contributed $1500.
According to a March 2009 account in the Austin Business Journal, Tworoger is the widow of John Tworoger, the founder of Aspen Properties, who died in 2008. His nephew Dave Tworoger subsequently became president of the company.
Brenda Tworoger, John’s wife and self-described wearer of many hats in the company — her titles include senior vice president of operations and CEO — said making Dave Tworoger president has always been in the plans. He has worked with John and Brenda Tworoger for about 15 years, she said. Brenda Tworoger took the CEO title when her husband died last year.
Despite the recent shift in leadership, Aspen isn’t planning to change its strategy, Brenda Tworoger said. In June 2007, Aspen announced a strategy to sell stabilized properties and focus on new development. In late 2008 the company made good on that intent by selling three assets totaling nearly 1 million square feet and bringing two new office projects to market.
In 2010, Aspen refinanced five of its Texas office projects for $97 million, but lost another, Austin Oaks, to foreclosure, according to an account in the Austin American-Statesman.
Brenda Tworoger is also chair of Spectrum Property Management, according to that company's website. The firm "specializes in full service third-party management of office, industrial, retail, mixed-use, R&D, and PID properties throughout Southern California with an emphasis in San Diego County. Aspen Properties projects are exclusively and professionally managed by Spectrum.
"She works closely with the Aspen staff during development and construction in order to help achieve their goals for the projects."
Among many other sizable local real estate assets, Spectrum handles La Jolla Marketplace, "A three-story 30,828 square foot mixed-use project with street level retail stores, 14 luxury condominiums and a subterranean parking structure," at the corner of Girard Avenue and Pearl Street in La Jolla, according to the firm's website.
In April 2009, the Austin Statesman-American described an African safari taken by Tworoger:
"We landed in the Serengeti, and there's a dirt field, and there are all these animals running across it," she says. "It's amazing."
That was a surprise, but this was a bigger one: "You get back from the day's safari, and there's someone standing there with a silver tray with your favorite drink on it."
A luxury safari? Absolutely. Run off and shoot photos of elephants, lions and wildebeests all day, then retreat to a comfortable, tastefully decorated cabin, lodge, hotel or tent - and even the tents are high-end, with comfy beds, top linens, toilets, showers and sometimes even a tub. And, of course, there's mosquito netting at night. Mosquitoes don't understand the concept of upscale.
"The meals were wonderful," Tworoger says. Chefs prepared a gourmet meal every night with top wines, and full breakfasts and lunches were set out at stops during the day's safari.
Tworoger took her Tanzania trip with San Diego-based Aardvark Safaris, which offers trips to 14 nations in southern and southeastern Africa, including Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Madagascar and South Africa.
According to campaign records, Tworoger gave $5,000 to the San Diego County Republican Party in October of last year.
A receptionist at Spectrum said Tworoger was out of the office this morning and not immediately available for comment.
As reported yesterday, organized labor and Democratic politicos have spent more than $75,000 in support of union worker Myrtle Cole, another Democrat in the race.
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