The issue of fluoridating Juneau's water is leading the campaign spending for the October city election.
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In terms of spending, Citizens Promoting Dental Health, a group funded by dentists, has dwarfed all other campaigns so far, with $46,000 raised, according to filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, which monitors campaign finances.
Carolyn Brown, chairwoman of the group, said it was going to be expensive to run the campaign.
"I believe so firmly that there has been so much fear mongering and disinformation out there ... I think the community at large really needs a lot of information," she said.
Dental and medical associations, and some individuals, have provided the bulk of its money.
An opposing group, Citizens for Safe Water, has far less available. It's raised less than $2,000, mostly in small donations, according to APOC.
Another issue group with a less contentious issue, Juneau for the Pool, has raised and spent just $1,150.
Candidates for the Juneau Assembly also have radically different amounts of money available, but even some of those who have raised the most say it's too much.
Assembly District 1
Exempt Exempt Exempt
Assembly District 2
$4,725 $2,372 $3,678
Exempt Exempt Exempt
$16,907 $5,517 $11,389
$2,450 $4,500 $4,641
Exempt Exempt Exempt
Citizens Promoting Dental Health
$46,615 $14,608 $29,057
Juneau Citizen for Safe Water
$1,901 $786 $1,115
Juneau for the Pool
$1,150 $1,000 $250
Source: Alaska Public Offices Commission
Note: Some incumbents had beginning balances.
"It's quite distressing to me the amount of money we have to spend on this to be a credible, realistic candidate," said Marshal Kendziorek, running in a three-way race for a citywide Juneau Assembly seat.
Kendziorek, with about $16,900 in campaign funds, is the best-financed candidate after the first campaign reporting deadline in September. Kendziorek's largest single contribution so far is $5,000 from himself, according to APOC.
Incumbent Assembly member Randy Wanamaker agreed that campaigns are distressingly expensive.
"It's not a high-end campaign, but these things are very expensive," he said.
Early campaign finance reports filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission show Wanamaker has raised the second most of any municipal candidate - $4,725 - and is leading in the money race for his District 2 seat.
He'll likely finish in the lead, too, in terms of financing. Dixie Hood, his opponent, has filed with APOC as exempt from reporting, meaning she expects to raise and spend less than $500 for the race.
Another seat, the District 1 seat being sought by Jeff Bush, is uncontested.
He said he planned to spend $10,000 to $14,000 if he had an opponent.
"As well known as you think you are, you still need to get your name around," he said.
The areawide seat sought by Kendziorek, incumbent Johan Dybdahl and challenger Iskandar Alexandar is likely to be the spendiest. Alexandar has filed as exempt and Dybdahl has $4,600 available currently.
The campaign donations listed so far paint a picture of candidates' areas of support.
Wanamaker, an outspoken supporter of building a road north from Juneau that would improve access to the Kensington Mine, has support from prominent mine and road supporters such as Neil MacKinnon, Tim Whiting, Rich Poor and Dennis Wheeler, CEO of Coeur Alaska, which is developing the mine.
Kendziorek has support from numerous prominent Juneau Democratic elected leaders, including Sen. Kim Elton and Reps. Beth Kerttula and Andrea Doll.
The nonpartisan Assembly seats appear to be no less political, just less formally so.
Kendziorek said one of his first fundraising coups was when he was invited to a Democratic Party function and picked up several campaign contributions. He said he's nonpartisan and considers himself a progressive.
"I'm running against a very credible, well-supported candidate who has a lot of connections in the conservative community, like I do in the progressive community," he said.
Alexandar said he's running on a shoestring budget, but had a core group of about 15 volunteers and was trying to get the word about his campaign out without money.
"I'm not a Republican and I'm not a Democrat, so I'm not going to get money from either of those," he said.
The amount of money needed to campaign seems to shows a problem with American democracy, Alexandar said.
"Maybe there is something fundamentally wrong if it requires thousands of dollars to run for public office," he said.
Kendziorek agreed. He said he's supporting an initiative for which signatures are now being gathered for publicly funded elections.
"I'm for the clean elections initiative," he said. "We need to open up our democracy."
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