Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Campaign finance reports trickling in

Posted By on Tue, Feb 8, 2011 at 8:53 AM

City code requires that candidates for mayor and City Council file their “detailed summary reports of contributions and expenditures” on “The 1st Monday in February and on each Monday every 2 weeks thereafter before the general municipal election.”

As of 2 p.m. Monday afternoon, only eight of the 37 candidates had their filings up on the city clerk’s website. Among mayoral candidates, Brian Bahr and Buddy Gilmore were compliant, while Steve Bach, Dave Munger, and Richard Skorman were silent.

Jan Martin, Lisa Czelatdko, Brandy Williams, and Mike Merrifield had filed, while Sean Paige, Tim Leigh, Ed Bircham, Douglas Bruce and a host of others were late with their homework.

Some preliminary observations:

District 3 candidate Lisa Czelatdko had better start raising money! She’s picked up $825 so far, compared to opponent Mike Merrifield’s $11,285. Merrifield has the advantage of a large donor base, name recognition, and eight years of service to the community. Czelatdko is young, enthusiastic and above all Republican, so she should be able to raise the dough. One caveat: If she’s still lagging in two weeks, potential donors may assume that Merrifield has an overwhelming advantage, and give their money to conservative at-large candidates instead.

Jan Martin hasn’t raised much money either. In fact, she only lists four contributors. Copper Ridge developer Gary Erickson gave her $1,000, as did community mover & shaker Mary Ellen McNally.

Erickson, his spouse Donna, and a company that he apparently controls (Kaycee LLC) placed a much bigger bet on mayoral candidate Brian Bahr, giving him a total of $10,000. That bet, large as it is, pales next to Bahr’s bet on himself. As he promised, he’s given his campaign $200,000.

That’s a formidable wager, and one that would give even the most daring gambler pause. Two hundred grand would buy you a high rollers suite at the Bellagio, a few days of high-stakes play, and the possibility, however remote, of a big payday. This particular gamble, if successful, will force Bahr to spend his days, nights, and weekends administering a fractious, all-but-bankrupt city, and to abandon what must be a very successful company. He may be a gambler, but he’s a public-spirited gambler!

He’s scarcely the only one. Richard Skorman anted up $5,000, Steve Bach kicked in $24,000, and Buddy Gilmore is now in for $110,000, and Lisa Czelatdko threw down $500. It’s a high stakes game, and it’s worth noting that at least one serious player won’t bring his own money to the table.

Far from donating dough, Mike Merrifield charged his campaign $23.90, to reimburse him for food provided for a staff meeting. Now that’s a canny politician — win or lose, your not out of pocket.

And you can take the money you might otherwise have thrown in the campaign, and use it for a fun weekend in Vegas…

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