By LIZ BUTTON
Independent mayoral candidate Peter Jovanovich tops a crowded political field in fundraising having collected more than $17,700 from individual contributors.
The number is impressive when compared to the approximate amount of $16,860 raised by the entire Republican “Rye United” ticket, headlined by mayoral candidate Joe Sack. The two campaigns have raised nearly the same amounts in individual contributions, according to filings posted on the state’s Board of Elections website Oct. 4.
Candidates running for mayor and the three open City Council seats were required to file 32-day pre-election financial disclosure reports with the state by Sept. 30. The next filing dates are 10-day pre-election filings and then, 10-day post election filings follow Election Day on Nov. 5.
Individual donors contributed $17,724 to Councilman Jovanovich’s campaign. In total, Jovanovich, a Republican who decided against seeking the nomination within his own party, raised $30,064, taking in to account $12,340, which he loaned his campaign, according to his filings. As of press time, Jovanovich has spent more than $8,000 on his mayoral campaign. By comparison, the Republican ticket of four has spent roughly $7,700 on its campaign, as of press time.
The two Democratic City Council candidates Shari Punyon and Meg Cameron raised $9,874 but have already spent more than half of it, leaving the duo with a balance of $4,485, as of press time.
Punyon said that, in considering Jovanovich’s high campaign fund balance, she believes that candidates can do much to get out their message without a lot of money.
“There are obviously people who have money or a lot of people who have just a little money who feel like [Jovanovich] is worth supporting,” Punyon said. “In the end, I think in a town like Rye you can only spend your way to so much.”
Part of the difficulty of running as an independent candidate is the lack of major party backing and fundraising efforts leaving the candidate to go at it primarily alone.
But, Jovanovich said he does not put too much stock in campaign financing reports because they reflect contributions from one point in time. In general, campaigns can decide when they want to show money and when they don’t want to show money, Jovanovich said, depending on when they choose to file certain items.
“It’s difficult because when you look at the curve of when money comes in, most of it comes in October. As I continue my fundraising, I expect the loan to get repaid,” said Jovanovich of the loan he gave to his campaign.
Councilman Sack said that both sets of numbers for himself and for Jovanovich are within the normal range, and Jovanovich is perfectly within his rights to contribute money to his campaign, just as Sack has contributed some money to his own campaign as well.
Sack said the figures reported in a race like this are not earth-shattering on either side, but running a campaign takes money, in terms of mailings, ads and other strategic expenses.
“I think at the end of the day, it takes some money to buy newspaper ads and pay for palm cards, but I think the most important thing is the candidate’s reputation and message,”
“So to the extent that the advertising helps get some of that message out, that’s great. I think in a small town like Rye, the people who have been paying attention all along, which I quite frankly think is most people, have been able to form their own impression as to the quality of the candidates,” Sack said.
Jovanovich noted that while he has only one fundraising committee, Sack has two sources to glean money from: Rye United’s campaign fund and the Republican committee, which does not have to file campaign finance reports until
Jan. 1, 2014.
But, Sack said that as far as he knows, the Republican committee has not contributed to his ticket’s campaign.
“I don’t know what he is trying to insinuate, but our filings are logical, accurate and complete, and I take it as a fair assumption that his are, too,” Sack said.
Rye’s other mayoral candidate, independent Nancy Silberkleit, said that since her fundraising group Friends of Nancy Silberkleit raised an amount under $1000, she was not required to file a disclosure form with the state.
According to Elizabeth Cerino, a financial specialist at the Westchester Board of Elections, if a candidate either raises or spends less than $1000, then that candidate does not have to file with the state Board of Elections electronically. Instead, the candidate is only required to file with the county Board of Elections on paper by the Oct. 4 date, but this form does not need to be itemized.
Cerino said the board received a signed form from Silberkleit that verified she did not raise or spend more than $1000.
Silberkleit, a co-chief executive officer of Archie Comics, said she estimates her campaign has spent only $200, mostly on business cards with the characteristic Archie Comics speech bubble on them, which she handed out to prospective voters. Her small campaign expense serves as a message to Washington about the excessive nature of political campaign funding, she said.