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Reports show wide disparities in fundraising among candidates

Monday, November 7, 2022 by Jo Clifton

Last week, candidates running for City Council submitted their final campaign finance reports before Tuesday’s election, revealing a wide array of funds across campaigns and districts.

DISTRICT 9

With Council Member Kathie Tovo stepping down, numerous people are vying to take the downtown seat. The major contenders seem to be Linda Guerrero, Tom Wald and Ben Leffler, with longer odds for Joah Spearman, Zohaib Qadri, Kym Olson, Zena Mitchell and Greg Smith.

Guerrero reported spending more than $40,000 on her campaign, raising about $9,000 and holding on to more than $18,000. She had financial support from Austin Environmental Democrats, Central Austin Democrats and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Leffler spent more than $68,000, raised about $6,600 and still had $48,000 in the bank. Wald’s report indicates he spent more than $12,000 after raising just $3,000, but maintained more than $21,000 in the bank.

Smith, who has been endorsed by the Real Estate Council of Austin, reported raising more than $10,000, spending more than $55,000 and maintaining nearly $26,000 in the bank. Qadri reported raising $4,000 and spending more than $22,000. He indicated he had nearly $16,000 in the bank.

Olson, who borrowed $50,000 from her sister for the race, spent a little more than $2,000 and raised about $4,600. She reported she still had $58,000 in the bank. Spearman raised about $8,000 in October and spent more than $13,000. He reported having less than $3,000 in his campaign account at the end of the reporting period.

Mitchell raised no money and spent none.

DISTRICT 8

Paige Ellis, the incumbent Council member in this Southwest district, reported in her most recent filing that she had spent nearly $80,000 and still had more than $73,000 in the bank. She indicated Capital Area Progressive Democrats notified her that the group has made expenditures on her behalf.

Her major opponent is Republican Richard Smith (not to be confused with Greg Smith in District 9). Smith reported he had spent more than $15,000 and still had nearly $27,000 left in the bank. His campaign still owes him $16,000 from a loan. Smith also reported that a political action committee called Protect and Serve Texas PAC had spent money in support of his campaign.

Two other candidates, Antonio D. Ross and Kimberly P. Hawkins, have not filed campaign finance reports so it’s not possible to know if they are raising or spending money on the race.

DISTRICT 5

There are six contenders in the race to take the South Austin seat Council Member Ann Kitchen has held for almost eight years.

Ryan Alter raised about $10,000 for the latest report and spent more than $81,000, maintaining about $6,000 in the bank. TREPAC, the Texas real estate political action committee, also spent money on his behalf, as did the Real Estate Council of Austin Inc. Advancing Democracy PAC.

Brian Anderson reported raising $235 and spending $826 in campaign money in October. His report indicates he still has more than $2,000 in the bank.

Stephanie Bazan, the only woman in the race, reported raising about $6,000 in October, spending nearly $23,000 and maintaining more than $26,000 in the bank.

Ken Craig, who has been Kitchen’s aide for the past seven years, reported spending more than $51,000 and raising nearly $11,000 in the past month. His report indicates that he has more than $16,000 in the bank and still owes himself $6,000. Capital Area Progressive Democrats and Austinites for Equity, the political action committee for the city labor union AFSCME, have also made expenditures on his behalf.

Aaron Webman, who has the backing of two conservative political action committees, reported raising more than $14,000 in October, spending more than $43,000 and maintaining about $34,000 in the bank. The committees supporting Webman are the Restore Leadership ATX PAC and the City Accountability Project PAC.

Bill Welch, one of the conservatives in this race, reported raising less than $2,000 in October and spending more than $8,000. He has about $2,300 in the bank and still owes himself more than $10,000.

DISTRICT 3

With the retirement of Council Member Pio Renteria in January, District 3 will welcome a new Council member. Six people are running for the seat.

José Velásquez outraised all the other candidates in the race, bringing in more than $29,000 in contributions in October. He also outspent the rest of the field combined, reporting more than $62,000 in expenditures. He reported he had more than $54,000 left in the bank. Velásquez also reported that the labor-backed political action committee Austinites for Equity and the Texas Realtors PAC spent money backing his candidacy.

José Noe Elías raised about $700 over the month of October, spent about $3,500 and has about $3,800 left in the bank, according to his report.

Gavino Fernandez reported raising about $550 and spending about $4,000. He has about $4,300 left.

Daniela Silva reported raising more than $7,000 during October and spending just a little less than that. Her bank account was left with about $8,300, she reported.

Yvonne Weldon reported contributions of $229 in the month of October. She spent less than $46 and has no money left in her treasury. Weldon’s campaign still owes her more than $2,000 for a loan to the campaign, according to her report.

Esala Wueschner reported raising a little more than $1,000 and spending more than $1,600. His report indicates he had about $167 left in his campaign account.

DISTRICT 1

Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison, the incumbent in the District 1 race, far outraised her opponents during the month of October. She reported collecting more than $12,000, spending more than $21,000 and maintaining more than $52,000 in the bank. She has the endorsement and backing of the Austin Public Safety Fund, a political action committee affiliated with the Austin Firefighters Association.

The other candidates in the race are Melonie House-Dixon, Misael Ramos and Clinton Rarey. House-Dixon collected $925, spent more than $2,600 and still had more than $1,000 left in the bank. Ramos reported raising $7,881 and spending $6,349. His report indicated he still had more than $8,800 left in the bank. Rarey raised about $2,600, spent about $3,300 and had $63.16 left in his campaign account.

Photo by Jericho, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia CommonsThis story has been changed since publication to correct an error.

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