Jesse Cornett appears to be in the lead in the race to gather signatures for public financing to run against city commissioner Dan Saltzman.

"I have 780 signatures already, and I'm going to make it," he told the Mercury this morning. So confident did Cornett seem in his ability to make the number that he is taking the next two days to volunteer for the "Yes on 66/67" campaign. Cornett says he has achieved the signatures through events and contributions from "friends of friends."

The Mercury and Bus Project have invited all 7 candidates for the seat to participate in a Candidate Olympiad Thursday night, January 28—the day before the deadline to get their 1000 signatures in. Incumbent City Commissioner Dan Saltzman will definitely be there, and so will Cornett. You should come down and see what they have to say.

Jason Renaud, meanwhile, is yet to return the Mercury's call for comment, but told us last week he was about "half way there." He is aiming for 1200, and has even hired a couple of paid signature gatherers to go door to door to get himself across the line.

"I don't think any of us are going to make it this year," said Spencer Burton, talking with the Mercury on Friday. "1000 is just a lot of contributions, and people are really hurting with the recession."

Mary Volm is at about 400, she says. "I just got a whole bunch yesterday, I'm about where everybody else is, I've probably got 400 and something. But I'm considering continuing in the race, and will make an announcement next week. It was more challenging than I thought it would be, particularly with the weather and the holidays. But I've definitely had a lot of encouragement and I'm going to give it some consideration."

Ed Garren says he will not seek public financing, but that he does intend to continue in the race.

"We've talked to over 1500 voters and have about 200 contributions," says Garren. "But the people we've talked to are really hurting, and $5 is a lot of money, especially if it's someone you don't really know. If you're a candidate, you work your network, and your network will give you money because they know who you are. We made a conscious decision that we could either continue to try to gather qualifying contributions, or that we could focus on getting measures 66 and 67 to get passed, and that was more important."

"I should be able to get back to you this evening with how many we've gathered," says Rudy Soto. "We're definitely not making as many as I hoped, but I joined late, and so that's made it more of a challenge."

Update, 11:52: I decided to spend twenty minutes messing around with Excel-o-shop. Democracy gets to reap the benefits: