The first round of campaign finance reports for the May 11 election show the race for support, and for spending, is on its way.
In District 4, Denton City Council hopeful Joey Hawkins has outspent his opponent, Phil Kregel, nearly 10-to-1, according to the first filing report, which was due 5 p.m. Thursday. Hawkins logged about $6,857 in expenses to Kregel’s $743.
Kregel, who has run for City Council twice before — once as a write-in candidate in 2009 and again in 2010 — said that in his experience, a lot of campaign spending is wasted. Instead, his door-to-door campaign is targeting likely voters.
“It’s more strategic and cost-effective,” Kregel said.
However, he said his supporters are generous and have said they would give financial support if it was needed.
“When the time comes to ask, I will,” Kregel said.
Hawkins said he is following a budget he put out at the beginning, based on advice he’s been given about campaigns. He’s gotten enough pledges since then that he thinks he’ll be able to cover the expenses with some contributions.
“I had to front some money to the campaign — I’ve heard that happens a lot,” Hawkins said.
In District 3, challenger Brendan Carroll has raised $2,983, much more than incumbent Jim Engelbrecht, reports showed.
Carroll said his largest contribution — $1,000 — came from his mother, Patty Park, and that the next report, which is due May 3, will include the cost of campaign signs. He’s also planning a mailer the week of early voting.
“It’s part of my strategy to wait until later,” Carroll said. “And I expect those [mailers] will cost nearly $1 a piece.”
Engelbrecht, who claimed about $137 in contributions, said he had picked up another $200 or so prior to mailing his campaign letter, which solicited support not only for votes but also for the campaign.
“I did not solicit support outside the district, which frequently other folks do — go across town,” Engelbrecht said.
The district’s third candidate, Griffen Rice, filed a report claiming zero in contributions and spending. Rice did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.
In District 2, incumbent Dalton Gregory has raised $1,280, with most donations in $100 increments. Both he and his opponent, Alfredo Sanchez, reported some campaign spending, but Gregory has raised almost four times as much for his campaign chest.
Sanchez said he anticipated that and doesn’t plan to change his strategy.
“I’ve gathered that, if he’s like the others, he’ll do a lot of mailers,” Sanchez said. “We’ve got a lot of door hangers and one-to-one contact. We’re getting a lot of good responses going door to door.”
Gregory did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.
In area cities, a majority of the candidates submitted modified reporting declarations, pledging not to spend or raise more than $500 for their campaigns. Under the declaration, candidates are not required to file reports unless they raise or spend more than that set amount.
The race for Place 2 in Corinth has set incumbent Bruce Hanson against newcomer Mike Amason.
Though Hanson has only spent $42.90 and Amason has spent about $8 more, the candidates’ political campaign balances are about equal, each having more than $800 as of Thursday.
Justin’s Mayor Greg Scott is so far the biggest spender in the area cities, dishing out more than $2,100 on his bid for re-election.
His opponent, council member Diane Rasor, however, has pledged to cap her contributions at $500.
Rasor said her competitor might have an advantage because he has the means to purchase more signs and banners for name recognition.
But she said more money doesn’t guarantee a win.
“Have you ever read Money Ball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game? It’s about the concept of being able to level the playing field by working harder and smarter if you have less money than your competitors,” she said. “If you’re a candidate like myself, who has a budget of under $500 and really can’t afford to spend more, then you just have to work harder by getting out and talking to more people.”
Glenna Harris, who is running unopposed for Place 3 on the Denton school board, has led the pack among school board candidates. She reported raising $2,635 in the first campaign filing report period. Harris was unavailable for comment Monday.
Denton school board Place 4 incumbent Mia Price reported raising $2,148 in her first finance report and said this week she intends to receive more campaign contributions.
She said she sent 75 letters out to individuals letting them know her intent to run for another term and about the May 11 election.
Price said she’s not out to raise a lot of money “but basically raise awareness.”
“The contributions have been nice,” she said. “I think my needs are set for this campaign. I think I’ll be fine and have everything I need.
“I feel I have a great deal of support out in the community. The responses have been good and very positive.”
Donna Woodfork, Price’s opponent, did not file a campaign finance report, according to district officials. She could not be reached for comment.
In the Place 5 race, first-time candidate Prudence Sanchez has reported raising $250. She said she’s not running to raise money but to do a lot of word of mouth and have face-to-face interactions with prospective voters about district issues. Money, she said, can sometimes become a barrier for qualified candidates who don’t have access to large donors.
“I didn’t want to be a part of that,” she said. “I just wanted to run a small campaign and maybe people will appreciate [that]. I don’t really want it to be a money-numbers game.
“I just want to put my concerns in front of the people, face to face, and not spend a lot of money.”
Charles Stafford, Place 5 incumbent, reported he’s had “no activity” in regards to fundraising at this point, but he said he does expect to raise funds for his campaign. He said he intends to send mailers out this week to a few hundred people to solicit funds for his campaign. Stafford said he intends to loan funds to his campaign until contributions are received.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of people that have said they want to contribute and help,” he said.
Stafford said raising money for a campaign is “not one of the easiest things one raises money for.” He said it’s generally easier for him to raise funds for charity.
Two Denton City Council candidates, Hawkins and District 1 incumbent Kevin Roden, earned the endorsement of the Denton Firefighters Association on Monday night, which means $500 in campaign contributions will be offered to those two candidates along with in-kind help with the campaign.
Roden is running unopposed.
Michael Holdsclaw, chairman of the association’s political action committee, said the group’s vote not to support the incumbents Gregory and Engelbrecht was related to reduced staffing on fire trucks. The City Council agreed about two years ago to dispatch trucks with three firefighters instead of four, a cost-saving move that firefighters say can affect their safety on the job.
The association declined to endorse any candidates last year.
“We’re in that same position with the incumbents this year,” Holdsclaw said.
Overall, the group was looking for key responses to issues that affect the firefighters, Holdsclaw said.
The vote came late Monday night after a public forum with all the candidates at the Central Fire Station.
In addition to staffing, the firefighters asked questions about the continuation of the meet-and-confer bargaining agreements and finishing construction of a new training facility.
Early voting begins April 29.
Staff writers John D. Harden and Britney Tabor contributed to this report.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.