Mayor-elect spent $31,000 in race

Published 12:36 am Thursday, June 5, 2008

NATCHEZ — Running for a city position is not cheap, and the Natchez city election candidate’s final financial reports prove it.

Mayor-elect Jake Middleton grossed $45,735 in donations and disbursed $31,238.

During the final weeks of the race — May 11 to May 31 — Middleton’s reports show that he spent much of his campaign money on media advertisements and mail outs — nearly $10,000. Other costs included printing and space rentals.

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“We figured to do this campaign and do it right we would spend somewhere between $40,000 and $50,000,” Middleton said.

He said raising and spending that kind of money was new to him. The last two times he ran for alderman he was unopposed.

“I didn’t have any expenditures or donations, I was zero, zero, zero,” he said. “It was a whole different type of ball game here.”

Most of his funds came from people calling and mailing in checks or cash.

“We had a couple of fundraisers through the campaign like most people do,” he said.

Chick Graning received $48,046 in campaign donations and spent $28,526 of that total.

Graning, in the same time period as Middleton, spent roughly $9,000 on ads.

“It would appear from my donations that I would garner more votes,” Graning said.

He received many small donations through the course of his campaign.

Most of the contributions came from hand-ins and mail-ins, he said.

Both candidates have money left over from the contributions, which will dwindle some due to outstanding bills.

Middleton said he’s not sure how the remainder of the campaign money will be spent.

Graning said he’s undecided as of right now, as well.

“There are a lot of options,” he said. “We’ll just check what the rules are and go by the rules.”

City attorney Everett Sanders could not be reached for an exact interpretation of the law regarding remaining campaign donations.

In the final two alderman races, considerably less money was spent.

Ward 3 candidate Gwen Ball spent $1,213. Most of Ball’s funds were funneled into radio and print advertisements.

Bob Pollard, re-elected Ward 3 alderman, received a total of $7,150 in contributions and spent $4,522.

He spent $355 on yard signs and $1,448 in print advertisements, the rest was spent on campaign labor.

The labor mainly consisted of family members. City Clerk Donnie Holloway said paying family for their time on the campaign is normal practice.

Ward 5 alderman-elect Mark Fortenbery received a total of $8,450 in campaign contributions and disbursed nearly all of it, $7,284.

The majority of his money was spent on radio and print advertisements.

Fortenbery’s opponent Charlez Zucarro had not turned in a campaign finance report Wednesday.