Candidates for county council seats and the coroner’s office say they’re running their campaigns mainly out of their own pockets.
Local campaign finance reports indicate that three Cass County Council candidates raised $5,331.23. Reports from two other candidates had not been filed as of 2 p.m. Friday, the day reports were due at the county clerk’s office by noon.
Candidates for county coroner raised a total of $3,665.75, according to those campaigns’ records.
The five county council candidates are vying for three at-large seats.
Scott Peattie, a Democrat, didn’t disclose the amount of money he raised and had not filed his campaign’s financial report Friday afternoon.
Peattie said when he asked people to donate money he had some people come out, both Republican and Democratic, whom he hadn’t expected to donate.
“I knew absolutely nothing about the finances for running for office,” Peattie said. “I half expected it to be as expensive as it was and was still half surprised. It was a learning experience.”
Republican county council candidate Stacey Donato said the bulk of what she spent was her own money.
She said that she raised close to $1,000 and used about $1,000 of her own for a total of $1,976.80.
“I ran a pretty conservative campaign compared to some, but I’ve lived within my budget and I think that’s important,” Donato said. “You need to get your name out there but you also have to live within your means.”
Terry Homburg, a Democratic candidate for county council, said he did not go out looking to receive any money from anyone. In fact, he said, he accepted two donations — one for $25 and the other for $75 — because the donors insisted.
“People get hounded enough without a politician, who is running for a part time job, going out and asking for money,” Homburg said. “I thought if I wanted this job I needed to pay to get it.”
Homburg spent his budget — $1,629.43 — at a local business, Priceless Banners, and on local advertising.
Republican George Stebbins, currently president of the county council, supported his own campaign with the exception of a $750 donation toward radio and newspaper ads.
Stebbins spent his campaign’s funds on T-shirts, signs and pens, expending a total of nearly $1,000 of his own and the additional $750 he received for advertising.
“I didn’t want feel like I owed anyone,” Stebbins said.
Fellow incumbent councilman Jeff LeDonne, also running on the Republican ticket, did not return calls for comment and had not filed his campaign’s financial report as of mid-afternoon Friday.
Coroner candidates took widely different approaches to financing their campaigns.
The Republican candidate for county coroner, George Franklin Jr., reported $2,000 raised from friends and family members. He said that he also spent his own money on top of that, but did not report an exact figure.
Former state Sen. Tom Weatherwax had been really helpful to the Republicans in contested races, Franklin said, by helping with finances.
“It shows that those donating believe in me,” Franklin said. “It also indicates they think I am the person for the job and that means a lot.”
Franklin said he’s been attending several dinners and thinks that networking is what will resonate with more people.
Randy Rozzi, the Democratic candidate for coroner, said after he ran for sheriff a few years ago, he wasn’t going to have fundraisers this time around.
Rozzi didn’t solicit donations, he said, funding his campaign himself aside from a couple hundred dollars from family. He reported spending a total of $1,665.75.
The money mostly went toward signs, advertisements in local media, online advertisements and fingernail files, he said.
“When I ran for sheriff I had overwhelming financial support from friends and families along with fundraisers,” Rozzi said. “I just felt if I was going to run again this soon, I should fund my own campaign.”
If he couldn’t have afforded it he wouldn’t have run, he added.
This isn’t the first year candidates have been late filing their campaign finance reports, said county Clerk Beth Liming. Several were filed after the deadline last year, too. She expected the reports to trickle in later Friday or early this week.
Amie Sites is a reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5150 or email@example.com.
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