Incumbent Kate Beaton took an early lead in the fundraising race to keep her seat on the Eau Claire City Council amid a packed field of candidates.
The dozen people running for five at-large seats on the council had a Monday deadline this week to file campaign finance forms showing how much they’d raised late last year until Feb. 4.
It’s still early in the spring election season, but a Tuesday primary will eliminate two candidates, leaving a field of 10 that will appear on the April 2 ballot.
The early campaign finance filings can give an indication of which candidates are already building up war chests toward April’s election.
Beaton’s filing showed she’d raised $4,200 during January from 57 people. She had given $500 to her own campaign, but saw notable contributions from other area politicians. Sarah Godlewski, state treasurer and an Eau Claire native, gave $500 to Beaton’s campaign. Current Eau Claire school board president Joe Luginbill and past president Chris Hambuch-Boyle each gave $100 to Beaton’s campaign. Fellow city council members Emily Berge and Jeremy Gragert gave smaller amounts to Beaton’s campaign. County supervisors Judy Gatlin and Sandra McKinney are also among donors to Beaton.
Newcomer John Lor’s campaign also came out strong, raising $3,155 before the new year from 12 contributors. The top donor was Lor Chong, who gave $1,000; Chong lists Mayo Clinic Health System of Eau Claire as an employer. Most other contributions in the filing were $250 each.
However, Lor’s campaign may have raised more since then as a report showing activity for the start of this year was filed late and not available by the Leader-Telegram’s publication deadline.
Another newcomer, Laura Benjamin, had the third-highest fundraising tally through early February, with $2,008 in contributions from 34 people. Her donor list includes current council members Beaton, Catherine Emmanuelle, Jeremy Gragert and acting council President Andrew Werthmann. Benjamin did put $155 into her own campaign so far.
Donald Motzing, another newcomer to city politics, came in fourth with a campaign that has so far raised $1,890. Motzing gave $825 to his own campaign and the rest came from 14 donors.
David Klinkhammer, who lost his district seat to Emily Anderson last April, is running fifth in his bid to rejoin the council as an at-large representative. The biggest donors to his campaign were former council President Kerry Kincaid and her husband Daniel, who each gave $200 to Klinkhammer. All told, Klinkhammer had eight contributors listed on his filing, including $100 he provided to his own campaign.
Echo Reardon, who ran as a Republican in November’s election to represent Eau Claire in the state Assembly and lost to Democrat Jodi Emerson, didn’t have much campaign activity so far in her bid for city council. Reardon contributed $300 to her own campaign earlier this month, which is the only activity listed on her report filed this week.
Newcomer Chandler Lorentz’s campaign is running in the red so far, according to his filing. He’s spent $774 on online advertising, yard signs, a banner and fliers, but shows no contributions.
The remaining five candidates running for at-large council seats, including a current incumbent, have not yet filed campaign finance reports. They’ve claimed an exemption to filing, which is allowed for those who don’t intend to raise or spend more than $2,000 in a calendar year.
Incumbent Emmanuelle, who is the second-longest serving person on the council having been appointed in 2012 and re-elected since, was among those to file for that exemption.
Newcomers Kirk Ausman, Kate Martin, Dale Poynter and Kyle Woodman also claimed the same, indicating lower levels of fundraising and spending so far.
While Emmanuelle and Beaton are seeking to retain their seats, fellow at-large incumbents Michael Xiong and David Strobel are not running for re-election. Incumbent Terry Weld is not running for his at-large seat, instead challenging Werthmann in the council president race, which will also be April 2.