The money raised by the candidates for Brookhaven’s District 1 City Council seat is something the mayoral candidates might envy.
As the focus shifts to the Dec. 4 runoffs, District 1 has emerged as the best-financed of the races that will determine the future of the new city.
District 1 City Council candidate Rebecca Chase Williams raised $31,050, easily beating mayoral candidates Sandy Murray and J. Max Davis, who each raised less than $25,000.
Williams’ opponent, Kevin Fitzpatrick, is also running a well-financed campaign, with $21,076 as of the most recent filing.
None of the other four remaining city council candidates raised more than $11,000, according to their campaign disclosures.
Both District 1 candidates point to the district’s history of large voter turnout as reasons for the large amount of money being spent on their races.
“There’s a huge disparity in registered voters and area, and part of my desire to continue to stay on the phone and ask people for help is what I saw the other candidates spending,” Fitzpatrick said.
Williams said it has been a robust race as the candidates try to take advantage of District 1’s volume of voters.
“We were all aware it was important to reach as many voters as possible,” Williams said.
In the Nov. 6 general election, the district had the largest turnout of all the council races, drawing 5,776 voters to the polls, accounting for 36.4 percent of all the votes cast.
District 1’s precincts in the July 31 overwhelmingly voted to incorporate the city.
The precinct at Montgomery Elementary is particularly important to the candidates. It had the largest turnout of any of the precincts across all districts, according to voter data.
In addition to the block-buster spending in District 1, there are other stories revealed in the campaign finance data.
– Two of the candidates’ campaign finances are in the red. Bates Mattison, in the District 3 runoff, spent $1,024 more than the $6,141 he raised for his campaign. Much of his campaign is self-funded, records show. Attempts to reach Mattison on Nov. 12 were unsuccessful. Joe Gebbia, in the District 4 runoff, donated $6,900 to his entirely self-funded campaign and spent $9,375, leaving him with a negative balance of $2,475. Gebbia said he has made some of his campaign purchases using credit cards and that outstanding balance is the reason for the negative funds listed on his campaign finance forms.
– Karen Lord, running against Gebbia in the District 4 runoff, has raised no money and has spent practically nothing on her campaign, aside from the $913 she spent on her qualifying fee, some yard signs and some flyers. Lord advanced to the runoff on a tidal wave of early voter support, according to turnout data. Lord convinced more than 300 voters to early vote and cast absentee ballots, an effort that secured her place on the runoff ballot. Gebbia received more than 200 absentee and early votes.
Gebbia said he hasn’t seen much of Lord on the campaign trail. A reporter’s attempts to reach Lord have been unsuccessful.