Walsh mum on campaign finances

By DANIEL OFFNER

With Election Day less than two months away, the two candidates seeking the title of mayor have begun canvassing Harrison with the hope of gaining financial contributions for their campaigns.
Based on the July 2013 contribution filings made with the New York State Board of Elections, incumbent Republican Mayor Ron Belmont is the only candidate to have filed his financial contributions, and therefore is  believed to have taken an early lead over his Democratic challenger, former Mayor Joan Walsh.Picture 2

Although Belmont said that he doesn’t feel as though he has the advantage, the filings show that, as of July, his candidacy alone has garnered $16,025 in donations for his campaign.

“Money shouldn’t play a part in it,” Belmont said, “[Walsh] is running a grassroots campaign, that’s wonderful for her, but I am going to do what I have to do to get my message out there.”

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the political—and, apparently, the financial—spectrum, the Friends of Joan Walsh did not file any campaign contributions as of the July reporting period. However, that doesn’t mean that Walsh has not raised any money for her campaign
to date.

According to Walsh, during the July filing period, local Democrats were still in the process of organizing the committee and had not started to fundraise until after the state’s deadline.

Based on committee filings made in July, the Harrison Democrats have only raised $500 while the Harrison Republican Town Committee has already received $7,115 this year in donations.

Walsh said she would rather wait until the next filing deadline on Sept. 30, 2013 to disclose how much money her campaign has raised, so far.

“We’ve had some very generous donations, as well as some modest ones,” Walsh said.

Although Walsh claims to have received campaign contributions, she said that providing estimations would give the GOP the upper hand this election season but would not provide further detail as to why.

In the meantime, Walsh and her ticket have resorted to some unusual tactics, launching a “No Party” party, as its first fundraising initiative, in an effort to attract donors without a need to leave their homes. Prospective donors are asked to send money to the Walsh team without having to leave the confines of their couches to attend a campaign function.

The Harrison Democrati­c Committee, in its mailer, stresses that the town is currently operating under a Republican council monopoly and urges supporters to donate with the promise of providing more scrutiny and transparency in local government. The fundraiser also promises to provide the first 48 people to donate $100 or more with a bottle of wine from the Great Estates Winery.

Believed to be ahead, financially speaking, the Belmont administration began its fundraising efforts earlier this year, and plans to continue as the elections draw near. Belmont said his plans to fundraise currently include a meet and greet event at Aquario Restaurant in West Harrison, a night of music and entertainment at Westchester Burger and a golf outing on Oct. 8, 2013.

Although the campaign has kept relatively calm over recent months, now that the summer is over and school is back in session, the fundraising efforts of both the town’s Republicans and Democrats are expected to kick into high gear as the elections inch closer.

During the 2011 town elections —when Belmont first ran for mayor—the Friends of Ron Belmont also found themselves with an early financial lead over then incumbent Mayor Walsh.

At the end of 2011, Belmont had received a total of $89,250, almost double the amount raised by Walsh, who received a total of $45,086.

“In 2011, [the Republican committee] outspent us tremendously, as I expect they will this year,” Walsh said. “Every election year is a new story…but the Republicans always outspend the Democrats.”

Contact: dan@hometwn.com