Jim Scheppke, ace financial analyst of contributions to Salem City Council races, sent me an update on spending in the 2020 campaigns. As you can read below, the headlines are:
Four business PACs (political action committees) have contributed $66,468 to conservative candidates. That's 39% of the total campaign contributions for all candidates of $170,977.
Reid Sund, who faces Vanessa Nordyke in the Ward 7 race, has gotten a record-breaking $63,422 in contributions, only 10% of which is from contributions of $100 or less. Nordyke has gotten 29% of her $22,605 in contributions of $100 or less.
Here's part of what bothers me about the trend toward big spending on City Council races.
(1) Salem city councilors, along with the Mayor, are paid exactly nothing for the long hours they put in. That's a big burden for most people who might be interested in running. When it costs tens of thousands of dollars to fund a campaign, that's an even bigger burden for ordinary citizens.
(2) As I noted in a previous post on this subject, "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."
Since the City Council often is involved with land use decisions, it's understandable that many citizens view those business PACs showering money on conservative council candidates as being out to feather the nest of real estate developers. This isn't good for public confidence in local government.
(3) In a democracy, people power should roughly equal money power. This has held true in recent City Council elections, largely due to the ability of progressives to do a lot of door to door canvassing in a counterpoint to media buys and direct mailings by conservative campaigns with more money. But in this coronavirus time, that isn't possible. So Big Money might have more sway in this election, though that remains to be seen.Here's Scheppke's updated report.
As of May 3rd, reports on ORESTAR show a total of $170,977 has been contributed (cash and in-kind) to the eight Salem City Council candidates. I believe this already sets an all-time record for contributions in a Salem City Council race. In 2018 the total contributions to City Council candidates was $78,990.
Here are the top contributors as of May 3. The four business PACS at the top of the list have contributed 39% of all contributions.