Commissioner candidates have wide spending gap
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY - The two Republican candidates for county commissioner have spent far more than their Democratic rivals, according to finance reports filed with the Rowan County Board of Elections.
Campaign spending in the commissioners' race ranged from less than $1,000 to nearly $30,000 at the end of October, according to finance reports.
Local candidates must file detailed reports if they plan to spend more than $1,000.
Democrat Leda Belk didn't exceed that threshold by Oct. 20, but she said Thursday that she just recently went over it.
Belk, a retired educator and law enforcement officer, earned enough votes in the six-candidate Democratic primary to avoid campaigning for a runoff race. The former county commissioner said she hasn't spent much because people already know her and she hasn't changed her views.
"I don't think money poured into an election is good," Belk said. "If it was my way, I'd limit it so that the average person can run. It's gone beyond the reach of the average person, financially, which is what I am."
At the other end of the range, Craig Pierce, a Republican, loaned himself $25,000 at the beginning of his campaign. He has now spent his way through that and added another $5,000 loan since July 1.
Republican Mike Caskey spent the next largest amount, followed by Ralph Walton, a Democrat. The four are competing for two open seats on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
Pierce said he came into the race as a newcomer who had to get his name out and establish his platform. Walton and Belk, who both have previously run for county commissioner, started with leftover signs and other materials that Pierce didn't have, he said.
He also pointed out that there were nine candidates in the Republican primary.
"Then we had to go through a runoff to get to the ballot, which I did not originally anticipate when I set up my committee," Pierce said. "So this is actually my third election within one year."
He has kept his pledge not to take any money from donors, aside from a $300 in-kind donation of printed campaign materials from a friend, Jim Shuping of Salisbury. Pierce said Shuping refused to let him pay for the items, so his total money raised now sits at $30,300.
Pierce, owner of Pierce Interiors and Construction, has spent $7,388 in the past quarter, for a total of $28,350 this election cycle.
He spent $2,575 ($10,072 total) on newspaper ads in the Salisbury Post, $700 ($3,085) on advertising with WSTP radio, $850 ($2,600 total) on radio ads with Ford Broadcasting, $387 ($775 total) on advertising with Great American Publishing, $100 on an ad with the South Rowan Public Schools Bible Teaching Association, $50 on an ad with the Granite Quarry Civitan Club and $1,625 at Mailed Inc. in Kannapolis for mailed campaign materials.
Caskey has raised $2,842 since July 1 and $11,299 throughout the whole election cycle. That includes $2,542, or a total of $5,042, in loans to his own campaign.
Caskey, a patrol officer and member of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education, has spent $3,343 in the past quarter, bringing his campaign expenses for this election cycle to $11,237.
He spent $600 ($1,913 total) for online ads in the Salisbury Post, $600 ($1,450 total) on radio advertising with Ford Broadcasting, $100 for a magazine ad with Kidzz Bizz in Rockwell, $67 ($145 total) for online advertising with Facebook, $50 for program advertising with the Granite Quarry Civitan Fiddler, $1,300 at Mailed Inc. in Concord for mailed campaign materials, and $260 ($569) at Aull Printing in Salisbury.
Walton, a retired principal and educator, has raised $3,261 since July 1, for a total of $4,790. That includes $1,000, or a total of $2,350, in loans to his own campaign.
It also includes a $200 donation from Ed Norvell, of Salisbury, a self-employed attorney.
Walton's campaign received $100 from each of the following donors:
• John Wyatt, a retired teacher and Salisbury resident, who has given a total of $200.
• Rose Lacasse, a retired teacher and Mount Ulla resident, who has given a total of $150.
• Rowan County Commissioner Raymond Coltrain, of Salisbury, a self-employed agriculture consultant.
• Former Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education chairman David Aycoth, of Salisbury, a retired U.S. Air Force member.
• John Basinger, of Salisbury, a self-employed attorney.
• Hall Steele, of Mount Ulla, a feed and seed store retiree.
• Bruce Sanborn, of Richfield, a broker with F&M financial.
• Roselyn Misenheimer, of Salisbury, a retired teacher.
The following donors each gave $50 to Walton's campaign:
• Ralph Ketner, of Salisbury, Food Lion co-founder.
• George Knox, of Landis, a retired principal.• Danny Cooper, of Salisbury, a retired teacher.
Walton also received $459 from political party committees, which consists of $359 from the Rowan County Democratic Party and $100 from the Democratic Women of Rowan County
Walton has spent $2,546.90 in the past quarter, for a total of $4,071.05.
He spent $781.40 ($1,379.50 total) on newspaper ads with the Salisbury Post, $118 ($213 total) on advertising with Great American Publishing Co., $1,123.65 at Quick Copy in Salisbury for signs, $333 to Wayne Parker for signs, $120 at Sign Designs in Salisbury for car signs and $56.85 ($85.74 total) at Aull Printing and Copy Plus in Salisbury for badges and cards.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.