Reid Sund is running against Vanessa Nordyke for the Ward 7 Salem City Council seat. His campaign apparently has set a record for contributions to a city council candidate: $46,847.
But there's a lot of room for debate about whether this record deserves applause or boos, since $18,000 has come from special interest PACs: $10,500 from the Oregon Association of Realtor's PAC and $7,500 from the Mid-Valley Affordable Housing Coalition, which is the political arm of the Marion-Polk Homebuilder's Association.
After all, PACs (Political Action Committees) carefully choose which politicians they support financially. In my opinion, it isn't so much that they think they can buy the politician's votes, but that they believe certain politicians will be more likely to support their favored policies if they are elected.
So it isn't surprising that home builders and realtors associations are backing the conservative candidates in not only the Ward 7 race but in two other races also, since revisions to the Salem Comprehensive Plan are coming down the pike (Our Salem) and those special interests are worried that the days of unlimited and unfettered suburban sprawl in Salem may be coming to an end.
Which hopefully it will be, since what Salem needs is improvements in the quality of life of its residents, not more money going into the pockets of the already rich and powerful.
Vanessa Nordyke, Sund's opponent, certainly isn't anti-growth.
But as a member of the City Council's current 6-3 progressive majority, Nordyke favors smart growth, not dumb growth. Meaning, in part, wiser mixed use development rather than vast expanses of single-family homes where it is next to impossible to get to a grocery story or restaurant on foot or by bicycle.
"Complete neighborhoods" is the buzzword being used in the Our Salem project to describe neighborhoods where it is easy to access food, drink, recreation, and other services without having to get in your car and drive a considerable distance.
But this appealing vision for Salem must be threatening to the home builders and realtors PACs, because they have contributed exactly zero dollars to the campaigns of the four progressives running for City Council in the May 2020 election: Virginia Stapleton, Vanessa Nordyke, Trevor Phillips, and Hollie Oakes-Miller.
Here's how I came to learn that the Reid Sund campaign has broken the record for contributions to a City Council candidate. Yesterday a journalist for the Salem Reporter, Saphara Harrell, emailed me asking if I knew what the largest amount raised in a council election was, since she was struck by how much Sund's campaign had raised.
I didn't know this, but I suggested to Harrell that she contact Jim Scheppke, a retired librarian who is active in Salem politics. Scheppke jumped on the question and did some impressive overnight research, looking at City Council campaigns from 2012 to 2020.
Here's his overall summary:
Since Scheppke had sent detailed information for each candidate to me and Harrell, I was able to total up the contributions from realtors, homebuilders, and the Salem Chamber of Commerce versus labor unions for the eight people running for City Council this year.
Overall, here's the contribution total for the 2020 City Council election so far.
Realtor/Homebuilder/Chamber of Commerce PACs: $33,500
Labor unions: $2,011
This huge difference is important because often people claim that special interest money dominates at both ends of the political spectrum. But here in Salem, at least, 94% of the easily identifiable special interest contributions are going to the conservative candidates.
Here's the breakdown by City Council race, abbreviated as PACs and Unions.
Jan Kailuweit: PACs -- $3,000 Unions -- 0
Virgina Stapleton PACs -- 0 Unions -- $194
Brad Nanke: PACs -- $12,500 Unions -- 0
Trevor Phillips: PACs -- 0 Unions -- $149
Jose Gonzalez: PACs -- 0 Unions -- 0
Hollie Oakes-Miller: PACs -- 0 Unions -- 0
Reid Sund: PACs -- $18,000 Unions -- 0
Vanessa Nordyke: PACs -- 0 Unions -- $1,669