Candidates close in chase for moolah | AspenTimes.com
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Candidates close in chase for moolah

ASPEN Mayoral candidates Mick Ireland and Tim Semrau beat all others in the race to raise money for this year’s election. If money raised shows support among the electorate, then these first fundraising reports represent a tight mayoral race between Semrau and Ireland. “On a national basis money has become a scorecard,” Semrau said. “It’s been important to spend a lot of money to get the truth out about what I stand for.”Of the four candidates for mayor, Ireland topped the others at $18,339.99, Semrau brought in $17,525, while Torre raised $5,911.86 and Bonnie Behrend declared no monetary contributions. “When your competition is pretty well funded, you have to spend money to get your message directly in hand to people,” Ireland said. “We have a detailed platform and we’ve raised a lot of issues.”Ireland’s money came from 135 contributions, $6,434 of which came from non-Aspenites, and Semrau had 80 contributions, $7,150 of which came from outside of Aspen. Semrau spent most of the money he has raised, with nearly $6,000 going to the Darnauer Group, a local marketing firm. Ireland still has $12,500 on hand with his largest expenditure, $3,000, going to advertising. Torre spent $1228.73 on advertising. “I don’t ask people for their money and time, I ask for their support and their vote on election,” said Torre. “I don’t like expensive campaigns. I don’t like overspending, ever.”Much of Ireland’s support came from local elected officials and government employees such as Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, County Attorney John Ely, Assistant District Attorney Gail Nichols and numerous current and past county commissioners. Many of Semrau’s contributions came from the real estate and development community, such as real estate broker Robin Gorog, developer Bruce Berger, real estate investor John Provine and Realtor Ruth Kruger. Nearly half of Torre’s contributions came from a Kenichi fundraiser that netted $2,250. “You do your fundraising and divide it by the amount of people you saw at the fundraiser,” Torre said, explaining the large donation from the restaurant. “People took part in the evening at Kenichi. It was advertised that a portion of the checks would go toward the campaign.” Torre, Ireland and Semrau all stressed a broad base of support and said much of the fundraising has been unsolicited. Ireland said he hasn’t made any calls asking people for money and Semrau said most of the checks came in without direct solicitation. And, among City Council hopefulsCity Council candidate Dwayne Romero nearly doubled the second highest fundraiser among council hopefuls in the early stages of the campaign. Romero raised nearly $4,425, while candidate Michael Wampler received $2,250. Steve Skadron reported $1,250 and Andrew Kole brought in $368.99.Toni Kronberg did not raise any money and neither Michael O’Sullivan, LJ Erspamer nor Hassen Dagher submitted campaign contribution reports to the city by the April 17 deadline. While Romero did not report any spending on his campaign, Wampler went over the amount he raised. Nearly half of what Wampler raised to date came from family members. “I don’t think the figures to date show what’s going on,” Wampler said. “When it’s all said and done, at least three or four of us will spend the same amount of money. It’s a pittance compared to what the mayoral candidates are raising.”The bus lane battleWhile City Council and mayoral candidates cannot receive contributions of more than $250 in fact, Semrau returned a $500 contribution the special issue campaigns often are bankrolled with larger checks. On the Entrance to Aspen issue, BEST (Better Efficient Safe Transportation) was supported by the Aspen Skiing Co. to the tune of $1,500. BEST has the support of three out of four mayoral candidates – Torre, Ireland and Semrau – and encourages people to vote “yes” on the May ballot measure to construct bus-only lanes between the roundabout to Buttermilk. BEST received contributions totaling $3,845 and spent $964.20 on mailings.On the other side, Entrance Solution received $500 checks from Dick Butera, Stefan Edlis and Tatnall Hillman. They brought in $5,800.80 and spent $5,476.83, mostly on TV spots and newspaper ads that argue opposition to the ballot question and support a ballot campaign for a four-lane highway into Aspen. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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