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Archive for Thursday, February 1, 2007

Two get early start on raising campaign funding

February 1, 2007

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The money is beginning to flow in the race for Lawrence City Commission.

Two City Commission candidates raised a total of nearly $10,000 before 2007, according to new campaign finance reports filed at the Douglas County Clerk's office.

Mike Dever, owner of a Lawrence-based environmental consulting firm, was the top fundraiser with $5,975 in contributions in 2006. All of the contributions came in the last two months of the year.

Rob Chestnut, chief financial officer for Lawrence-based Allen Press, was the only other City Commission candidate to report raising funds during the year. He raised $3,525 in December.

"We're real happy with the response," Chestnut said Wednesday. "I think the community is ready for a change, and they're showing it by participating in the campaign."

Dever said he made it a priority to start seeking campaign funding earlier than other candidates because he knew he had limited name recognition in the community.

"I'm really lucky to have the support that I have," Dever said. "I have no idea how much money I will have to raise, but the only thing that money does is it allows you to get your name out there."

State law required any individual with campaign funds in 2006 to file a campaign finance report with the county clerk or the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. Only four of the nine candidates in the City Commission race had campaign funds in 2006. Incumbent Commissioners Boog Highberger and David Schauner were the other two to report funds. Highberger had $652.72 left over from his previous City Commission campaign. Schauner reported $739 left over from his last campaign. Neither candidate, however, reported any new contributions in 2006.

A new year, though, has produced new solicitations. Highberger said his campaign has set a goal of raising slightly more than the approximately $16,000 he raised during his 2003 campaign.

"I'm planning on spending a little bit more," Highberger said. "You need a certain amount to do well but, ultimately, the amount of money you raise won't determine the final outcome of the election."

Chestnut said his campaign also planned on raising in excess of $15,000.

"We want to raise what it will take to be effective in all the media outlets," Chestnut said.

Based on the first round of filings, there are several people who are making sizable donations. Dever had five individuals who gave $250 or more. Lawrence builder Tim Stultz was the top contributor, giving $500. Others at or above the $250 mark included Mark Buhler, an executive with Stephens Real Estate; Mary K. Stephens, a homemaker and wife of Stephens Real Estate executive Bob Stephens; Bill and Cecile Newsome, Lawrence real estate developers; and Thomas Rainbolt, a Lawrence dentist.

Chestnut had seven people make donations of $250 or more. Stultz also was Chestnut's top contributor, with a $500 donation. Others at or above the $250 mark included Michael Hutfles, a Lawrence lobbyist; Lori Hutfles, executive director of a nonprofit agency; real estate executive Bob Stephens; Michael Stultz, a Lawrence real estate developer; Kelly Drake, a Lawrence builder; and Cheri Drake, a Lawrence real estate executive.

The primary election, where voters will narrow the field from nine candidates to six candidates, is Feb. 27. The general election, where voters will fill three at-large seats on the commission, is April 3.

Other candidates in the race are Carey Maynard-Moody, a retired school social worker; Michael Limburg, a Lawrence forklift operator; Jake Davis, a local musician and data entry worker; James Bush, a Lawrence pastor; and Sam Fields, a Lawrence bail bondsman.

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