Political newcomer Scott Taylor has raised the most money in the Chandler City Council election, even beating out incumbents and a former councilman.
Taylor’s campaign war chest stands at more than $38,000, though much of that he loaned to himself.
Campaign finance reports due late last week show the amounts raised by the six candidates range from Taylor’s $38,000 to as little as about $3,800 for newcomer Terry Roe. Between all six, they’ve raised about $153,000 through a reporting period that ended Aug. 4.
Even that amount doesn’t touch the war chest of roughly $188,000 raised by Jay Tibshraeny, the former mayor who is unopposed as he seeks a return to his old office.
Candidates agree fundraising has been difficult in a poor economy.
Roe called his total “dismal” compared to the others but said the lack of fundraising has nothing to do with how much voters seem to appreciate his message. He’s focused heavily on door-to-door campaigning.
“I think the average person that I try to appeal to has no interest in me cornering them at a barbecue or a breakfast and trying to twist their arm and take their money,” Roe said. “Maybe that makes me a bad politician, but it’s just not me.”
Campaign finance reports show Taylor loaned himself about $22,000, vastly more than any opponent loaned to a campaign. Taylor said he had to make the loan to compete with the advantage incumbents have with fundraising. He noted the finance reports show most other candidates have large sums of money from individual donors who live out of the city or from special interest groups such as home builders.
“What’s impressive is that I’ve raised well over $10,000 from within the city,” Taylor said. “That’s the number I’m most proud of.”
Many individual donors write checks of about $100 to $200, he said, while groups often donate $1,000 or $2,000.
“I’m not saying I have an ethical problem with anybody collecting large checks from any group,” Taylor said. “When you compete against that, it’s hard to match those funds.”
Finance records show the biggest expenses are for mailings and signs.
Incumbents have another advantage. They can roll over unused funds from a previous campaign, which can account for a large portion of their costs.
Tibshraeny had about $155,000 in the bank from previous mayoral campaigns. Tibshraeny said he’s actively campaigning even if he’s stopped actively fundraising.
“We haven’t had any fundraisers since it became known we would run unopposed,” Tibshraeny said.
He would have spent $50,000 to $100,000 if he had an opponent. He’s spent about $10,000 so far but isn’t sure how much more he’ll spend yet this year.
Campaign finance reports are available on city websites and list every donor and the amount given. Candidates who raise lots of money can come under criticism from voters who might object to certain business or political groups funding a person, but Tibshraney said campaigns can fail if candidates don’t raise enough money to reach voters.
“It’s a two-edged sword and you recognize that,” Tibshraeny said.
The only contested city council race in Mesa has generated much less funding for the candidates in District 4. The city’s website didn’t immediately report totals for Thursday’s deadlines, but on Friday newcomer Christopher Glover said he’s raised about $8,800 while longtime activist Vic Linoff said he’s got about $13,800.
Glover said he’s mostly asked for donations of $5 to $20 because of the economy, though the maximum for individual donations is $410. That limits his budget for signs, mailings and other activities. He said he’s relying heavily on door-to-door visits.
“If they don’t know who you are, you’re just another person running,” Glover said. “If you’re actually meeting them, that goes a long way.”
Linoff said the nonpartisan city council race, which for the first time shifted from the spring to the fall, has gotten overshadowed by being mixed with partisan statewide races. Many people who follow local politics aren’t aware of the election or haven’t paid much attention, he said, which has made fundraising more difficult.
He doesn’t believe the best-funded candidate can buy an office, noting that Buz Mills poured millions of dollars into a gubernatorial campaign this year before pulling out amid his low polling results.
“The money can certainly improve your ability to communicate with voters, but there has to be more substance than dollars,” Linoff said.
Chandler campaign finance totals:
|Candidate||Raised||Spent||Loan to own campaign|
Figures represent transactions through Aug. 4 and were required to be reported by Thursday.
Source: City of Chandler