GREENFIELD — Chuck Fewell has raised more in his bid for mayor than any primary election candidate in at least a decade, and financial records put him $46,000 ahead of his challenger.
Financial statements filed this week in the Hancock County Election Office show Judy Swift raised about $7,300, while the incumbent mayor brought in more than $55,000.
Campaign finance reports offer a glimpse of how much support each candidate has and how the candidate has spent that money.
At this time four years ago, Dick Pasco had raised roughly $32,000 and Brad DeReamer had raised about $17,000 in their race for the Republican nomination for mayor. When the same two candidates ran against each other in 2007, Pasco raised $14,300 and DeReamer raised $11,300. While Pasco had the cash edge both times, he lost the election in 2007 but won in 2011.
A Republican caucus appointed Fewell to complete Pasco’s term after Pasco died from illness in late 2013.
Both Fewell and Swift say they’re grateful for financial support in their campaigns but hesitated to say the numbers are any indication of how much support they’ll receive at the polls.
Swift said she is aiming to run her campaign on no more than $10,000, which is why she’s not worried about the amount her challenger raised.
“I’m feeling fabulous,” said Swift, assistant vice president and business development officer for Greenfield Banking Co. “I’m trying to be very frugal with the money and pay close attention to where it goes. That’s major to me.”
Fewell, too, is feeling confident, saying the financial support he’s received shows his friends and associates support him and his integrity.
“I knew we were doing things right,” he said. “I don’t want to assume that’s any indicator. We’re going to push on as we have.”
Fewell’s top contribution was a $3,000 donation from Albert Strong of Greenwood.
Fewell had several prominent contributors, including County Auditor Robin Lowder, owner of CGS Services in Morristown Dana Caldwell, Dennis Fisk of Fisk Services, Wessler Engineering, Freedom PAC, Committee to Elect Bob Cherry, Milestone and Luke Messer for Congress.
He said he’s happy he has support from some of the folks he worked with as a governmental affairs director.
“I am pleased that the people have the trust in me,” he said.
Fewell has hosted several fundraisers, spending about $4,000 to mingle with supporters, and has a few more events planned before the May 5 primary.
Swift’s top contributor was Leslie Frady, who donated $1,000 to her campaign.
Swift has spent about $3,000 on marketing and promotional items for her campaign. She spent about half that on her campaign fundraisers, which included a kickoff at Wooden Bear Brewery.
She has another fundraiser planned for today and expects to spend the remaining cash she has on yard signs.
“I’m so proud of my committee,” she said. “The way everything is budgeted out, we should pretty much break even.”
Filing campaign finance reports is part of state election law to keep candidates accountable and help voters follow the money. Every candidate that opens a campaign committee must file a report; though opening a campaign committee is not required.
Of the candidates who opened campaign committees, three had not filed reports by the deadline.
Failing to file reports by noon Friday were Michael Tucker, a Democrat running for Greenfield City Council; Joe Skvarenina, a Republican running for Greenfield City Council; and Marcie Stafford, the incumbent running for Fortville clerk-treasurer.
Stafford’s challenger, Sherry Durbin, has raised $575 and reported $114 of cash on hand.
Cumberland Town Council candidates filed their reports with the Marion County Election Office.
Anna Pea self-funded $900 of her campaign contributions, and Michael Wherry and Don Engerer raised nothing, according to reports.
The law is lax when it comes to those who do not file on time.
Hancock County Clerk Marcia Moore said a letter of delinquency is sent to each candidate who did not file a report, and the candidate has another week to get the report in.
While a $50 per day fine could be collected, the local election board has always voted to avoid charging candidates because there are too many strings attached to what the fees can then be spent on, Moore said.
If a candidate does not file a report after receiving a letter, a public hearing can be held. No one in recent years has flat-out refused to file a report, Moore added, and there has not been a public hearing in recent years.
“Nine times out of 10, as soon as we send a letter that they’re delinquent, they belly up and say, ‘Here it is,’” Moore said.
Still, Moore said she believes in integrity of the election law that campaign financial reports should be filed on time, and voters should be able to see how money is being spent. The election board, she added, reviews the reports to make sure expenses can all be tied to an election.
“I just think people need to do the research. It helps keep candidates honest that you know that you’re responsible for this money and you have a responsible way for which you are to spend it,” Moore said. “The rule is, can you tie it to your election? Can you tie it to your campaign? Was it a qualified, reasonable expense?”
Incumbent Mayor Chuck Fewell
$3,000 — Albert Strong, Greenwood
$1,500 — Willis Conner, Indianapolis
$1,000 — Dana Caldwell, Morristown
$1,000 — Richard O’Connor, Carmel
Challenger Judy Swift
$1,000 — Leslie Frady, Greenfield
$900 — Mark McCullogh, Fishers