[image-1]You can’t have an election without cash, and the race for Charleston City Council is no different. So before Election Day on Nov. 7, let’s take a look at just exactly who is leading the pack in local campaign contributions and the donors behind it.
The race for West Ashley’s District 2 has been the most expensive by far, with both candidates receiving more than $46,700 combined, based on the most recent pre-election campaign filings. In terms of dollar amount, incumbent City Councilman Rodney Williams has collected the most contributions, as of his last disclosure filed Oct. 23. By that point, Williams reported $23,805 in total contributions. His opponent, Kevin Shealy trailed close behind with $22,930 — including $1,000 from the Kevin Shealy Agency — but a look beyond the dollar amount gives a better picture at how both campaigns have been funded.
Williams has reported a total number of 63 separate donations. The councilman started out with a slew of small donations between $5 and $10, according to his initial public disclosure filed with the State Ethics Commission on June 5. At that time, Williams was working with around $920 in contributions, but by the following month his total contributions had jumped to $11,705.
This surge in funding was largely due to the number of big-time donors stepping up with $1,000 contributions — the maximum allowed in a local municipal election. Among Williams’ donors handing over $1,000 during this fundraising period were Broad Street law firm Hellman, Yates, and Tisdale, owner of Baker Motor Company Tommy Baker, owner of real estate/asset management holding company Rivers Enterprises John Rivers, Susan Pearlstine of the Pearlstine Company which owns The Bend, and Patrick Marr of CMB Property Company.
Among all nine candidates vying for a seat on City Council this election, Williams has the highest number of one-time $1,000 donations with 17 total. In his last filing, Williams would see his total contributions double, pulling in $12,100 as the election draws near. Additional $1,000 contributions poured in from Lowcountry Livability PAC, McLeod Law Group, fellow City Council member Robert Mitchell, East Bay Company LTD, Long Savannah Land Company, Bennett Hospitality Company, and Mungo Homes Coastal Division.
Shealy’s campaign has been largely funded by a large number of mid-sized contributions. The challenger has claimed the largest total number of donations, with 105 separate donations coming into the campaign. Listed among Shealy’s financial supporters are The Beach Company, Coastal Property Company, and Broad Street Management with $250 contributions, and City Councilman Bill Moody with $500. Shealy has received just a handful of $1,000 donations, with those contributions coming from the Old South Carriage Company, Palmetto Carriage Works, Pile Drivers Inc., and West Ashley Ventures LLC.
In this year’s City Council race, there is no greater disparity in fundraising between two opponents than in District 6. Incumbent Councilman William Dudley Gregorie has pulled in more than $20,000 compared to challenger Amy Brennan’s $5,332 — including more than $500 in personal funds.
According to her campaign filings, Brennan has received 27 separate donations, with two of these reaching the $1,000 maximum. Those major contributions came from the Lowcountry Livability PAC and Sean Brennan.
Gregorie on the other hand has received 10 one-time contributions of $1,000. Two such contributions came from the Not So Hostel and the Charleston Development Company LLC. The South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office lists Robert Holt as the registered agent for the LLC, whose address is listed at 6 Tully Alley in Charleston. Other $1,000 donors include 111 President St. LLC, law firm Hellman, Yates, and Tisdale, and fellow City Council member Robert Mitchell.
In total, Gregorie has received 60 individual donations, more than double the number of his challenger.
With three candidates vying for the District 10 seat, money seems to be spread out a bit more in this race between incumbent Dean Riegel and newcomers Summer Massey and Harry Joseph Griffin.
As of their last campaign filings on Oct. 26, Riegel had claimed the least amount of contributions this election cycle. While Massey leads in contributions with $8,405, Riegel trails with $3,400, including a $150 personal investment. Among the nine donations claimed by Riegel, only one contributor has reached the $1,000 limit — Charleston Branch Pilots Association.
Out of all the candidates in this year’s City Council race, Griffin has poured in more personal funding than anyone else. As of Oct. 22, the challenger had invested $2,200 into his own campaign. By comparison, Riegel just $150 of his own money and Massey has been solely funded by donors.
Including his own money, Griffin has surpassed $5,000 in total contributions. Most of Griffin’s total campaign contributions have come from individual donors and family members, with $550 coming from Bulldog Tours and Palmetto Carriage Works.
Leading the race with more than $8,400 in total contributions, Massey has received 39 individual donations. Approximately half of Massey’s support came in the form of in-kind contributions.
The race for the District 12 seat shows two very different, yet equally successful methods of fundraising. While incumbent Kathleen Wilson has received $9,100 and challenger Carol Jackson has raked in $9,630, they both arrived at those totals in very different ways.
As of her Oct. 18 filing, Wilson had received 15 individual contributions. This included six $1,000 donations, including those from Town and Country Inn and Suites, the Not So Hostel, fellow council members Marvin Wagner and Robert Mitchell, and Marathon Ventures.
Jackson on the other hand has relied on 62 smaller donations coming in from individual contributors. Jackson has only claimed three donations that have reached the $1,000 mark. Those contributions came in the form of financial backing from Lowcountry Livability PAC, Robert Young of Falls Church, Va., and Virginia-based Jefferson 402 LLC.
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