Denton residents can start casting early ballots for the May 10 election in about two weeks, but many are already writing checks to support their favorite candidates.
Candidates have raised nearly $50,000 in contributions through March 31, according to a Denton Record-Chronicle analysis of reports filed with the Denton city secretary Thursday.
Mayoral candidate Jean Schaake leads the pack, having raised $16,891 so far. Fellow mayoral candidate Chris Watts trails her, reporting $9,600 in contributions between January and March to add to the $1,850 in previous contributions he reported in January.
Donna Woodfork, who also is running for mayor, did not file a report by Thursday’s deadline but said she has not raised any money for her campaign. She said she was in a traffic accident in March and was receiving medical attention on Thursday.
This first round of reports from local candidates do not include contributions from the Denton Firefighters Association and the Greater Denton/Wise County Association of Realtors announced this week, which brought another $8,000 to local candidates, including $3,500 to Watts.
Schaake reported 43 individual contributions averaging about $362. Watts reported 26 individual contributions averaging $424.
Half of Schaake’s war chest came from four contributors, Diann Huber, with $5,000, Soraya Fletcher, $1,500, and B. Lamar Ball and Joe Roy, $1,000 each.
“I’m very grateful and appreciative for the broad support I’ve received in the community,” Schaake said.
Watts also had a handful of four-figure contributions that showed an interesting split in the Denton political establishment, including $2,500 from James McNatt and $1,000 each from William Schofield and Chris and Sue Bancroft.
Watts said he wasn’t concerned about the gap between his and Schaake’s contributions.
“We’re doing what we need to do to run an effective campaign,” Watts said.
Place 6 council seat
While local real estate broker Greg Johnson is running uncontested for Place 6, he continues to run a full campaign and has raised the most of any council candidate, reporting $7,830 in contributions from January through March. Like Watts, Johnson’s report does not include an additional $2,500 announced this week from the firefighters and real estate group.
Johnson’s opponent, Brendan Carroll, withdrew from the race in mid-March, too late to have his name removed from the ballot. At that point in the race, Johnson reported having raised about $1,600.
Johnson said he believes some of the contributions he has received have been the result of a mailer he sent out before Carroll withdrew. He said he told supporters he would continue to campaign fully for the position, since Carroll’s name will still be on the ballot.
“I told them, ‘Don’t feel you need to send more money, I think I’m OK,’ and then they sent even more,” Johnson said.
Place 5 council seat
In Place 5, the only other citywide contested race, local businesswoman Hatice Salih has narrowly raised more than Dalton Gregory, who resigned his seat in District 2 to run for Place 5. Salih reported $4,635 in contributions and Gregory reported $3,935.
Gregory said the difference doesn’t concern him.
“It doesn’t matter how much money you raise; it matters how many votes you get,” Gregory said.
Salih said she has recycled signs from previous campaigns and has accepted a few contributions, but told others who have said they are willing to help to hold off.
“I don’t want to spend people’s money needlessly,” Salih said.
District 2 council seat
In the race to replace Gregory in District 2, Glenn Farris was second only to Johnson in individual contributions to council candidates, far outpacing his opponent with $4,790 to John Ryan’s $150. However, like Watts and Johnson, Ryan’s report doesn’t show the $2,000 contribution announced by the real estate group this week.
Ryan said he had signs left over from a past campaign, so he wasn’t too worried about raising money early in the race. But he says he might go back and visit with people who have said they’d help out.
“I’m working on some mailers now,” Ryan said.
While this is his first campaign, Farris said he knew what he wanted to do and how much he would have to raise.
“I’m right on track with my budget and my game plan,” Farris said.
The candidates have been busy spending the money on their campaigns, too.
An analysis showed about $36,000 had been spent on signs, fliers and other campaign activities. Schaake and Johnson reported the most still held for future spending, with Schaake holding $5,702 and Johnson $5,316.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.