One Assembly candidate far outpaces others in fundraising effort

Donations also boom for local political action groups

Assembly member Jesse Kiehl speaks during an April 26 special Assembly meeting. Kiehl, the District 1 Assembly incumbent, has reported more than $35,000 in campaign income this fall. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

With just a few days left before Juneau’s Oct. 3 municipal election, candidates and political action committees are wrapping up their fundraising efforts.

 

District 1 Assembly incumbent Jesse Kiehl leads the way with a reported campaign income of $35,306, according to his filing with the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC). District 2 Assembly incumbent Debbie White is the next-highest earner, reporting campaign income of $15,094.

Kiehl said he had to recently change his spending strategy as a result of the influx of donations.

“I’m humbled by how many people supported my campaign with their hard-earned dollars,” Kiehl said Thursday. “A few days ago, I raised my budget and I’ve taken the ‘donate’ button off my website.”

White’s challenger in District 2, Rob Edwardson, also broke into five-figure territory with a reported campaign income of $10,723, and Areawide incumbent Maria Gladziszewski reported $10,146 of earnings. Gladziszewski’s opponent, write-in candidate Andy Hughes, reported $9,291 of campaign income.

Of Kiehl’s two challengers in District 1, Chuck Collins has raised $8,477 and Loretto Jones did not file a report. Candidates are required to disclose their campaign expenses with APOC only if they intend to spend more than $5,000 on the campaign. If not, they can file a Municipal Exemption Statement and do not need to disclose their financial information. Jones’ form was filed Aug. 22.

The candidates will report their final financial figures no later than 105 days after election day.

Many of the candidates received at least a little funding from political action committees (PACs), including a couple of local groups. Representatives from the Juneau Pro-Choice Coalition (JPCC) PAC and Juneau Seniors Supporting Seniors both were pleased with the way money rolled in this election cycle.

JPCC, which backs candidates who support abortion rights, earned $5,185 this year, about $500 more than it reported just before the 2016 municipal election. Almost $2,400 of that went to printing and mailing postcards, according to the group’s APOC page, and Treasurer LaRae Jones said this was a big year for the mailing list.

“This year we expanded our mailing list, which we hadn’t done in years,” Jones said. “We were also pleased that there were many more declared pro-choice candidates.”

Four Assembly candidates — Edwardson, Gladziszewski, Hughes, Jones and Kiehl — responded to the JPCC’s mailer this year and said they supported abortion rights. Kevin Allen was the only Board of Education candidate to respond, Jones said, and he also was in support. The PAC donated $150 to each of the campaigns, according to the APOC report.

Juneau Seniors Supporting Seniors, which is a group advocating for the reinstatement of a full sales tax exemption for seniors, has raised $2,834 to date. The group has spent almost exactly that much, reporting expenditures of $2,828.

Treasurer Ron Somerville said this campaign cycle went according to plan. Somerville is a deputy treasurer in Collins’ campaign, was previously a deputy treasurer in Hughes’ campaign, and the group endorses Edwardson. Though the PAC hasn’t reported any donations to candidates, it has bought advertising (including in this newspaper) on their behalf.

“We raised exactly what we wanted and paid for our flyer and ads,” Somerville said. “The remainder of the senior effort has been in supporting the three candidates we endorse by walking, distributing flyers, attending forums, encouraging seniors to participate and providing support to seniors to reach the polls.”

The group is looking to mobilize seniors to vote for Assembly candidates who have expressed the desire to reinstate a full sales tax exemption for those over 65. A 2015 city ordinance reduced the exemption to only “essential” items such as food or utilities.

The issue has divided the candidates during this election cycle, and though Somerville likes what he’s heard from some of the candidates, he’s ready for Oct. 3 to come and go.

“We feel good about the campaign,” Somerville said. “Like most people we will be glad when the election is over.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or alex.mccarthy@juneauempire.com.


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