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Elect 2012: Commissioner candidates vary in campaign spending

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Three of the 15 candidates for Rowan County Commissioner spent more than $11,000 each on their campaigns through April, while the rest kept their budgets under $3,000.
In Tuesday’s primary, these candidates are running against their fellow Democrats and Republicans for a chance to fill two open seats on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
Gus Andrews, Craig Pierce and Gene Miller have far outspent the rest of the nine Republicans, according to reports due April 30 to the Rowan County Board of Elections.
Pierce has spent the most in the first quarter of 2012, but Andrews has raised the most money in outside contributions.
Pierce, owner of Pierce Interiors and Construction, began his campaign by loaning himself $25,000 and pledging not to take money from donors. According to his finance reports, he has kept that pledge so far. He spent $16,360 on newspaper advertising in the Salisbury Post and the Cleveland Chronicle; radio advertising from WSTP, WSAT and Ford Broadcasting; signs; and other print advertising materials.
Andrews, who formerly served on the Board of Commissioners as its chairman, took in $16,463 and spent $15,478. Several Salisbury business owners, executives and community leaders have given to his campaign.
Gerald Wood, president of Gerry Wood Automotive, contributed $200. Donors giving $100 include Mark N. Lewis, vice president at Bank of North Carolina; David Setzer, director of the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation; real estate developer Jake F. Alexander; and attorney Edward Norvell.
Andrews also received a total of $1,000 from Bill and Tina Godair and Marco and Kristen Zapata, all ministers at Cornerstone Church.
Gene Miller, assistant superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools, raised $11,642, including a $1,200 loan to himself that is still outstanding.
Miller’s donors also include business owners and local leaders. Salisbury Mayor Paul Woodson and Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education Chairman Jim Emerson each gave $100.
Several current and retired school employees donated to his campaign, including Susan Herrington of Rockwell, principal at Woodleaf Elementary School. In addition, Andrews and Miller each received a $250 contribution from Paul Fisher of Salisbury, president at F&M Bank.
Miller spent $11,078 on printed and digital campaign materials, newspaper advertising in the Salisbury Post and Cleveland Chronicle, radio advertising from WSAT, fund raisers, car magnets and signs.
Mac Butner, owner of Mac Butner Real Estate, has raised and spent the least of the Republican candidates who filed campaign finance reports. He ended the month of April with $2,015 in money raised, including a $100 loan to himself that he has repaid and a $200 contribution from an unlisted non-party political committee.
Butner spent $1,053 on signs, flyers and name badges.
Mike Caskey, Carl Dangerfield, William “Bill” Feather, Laura Eller Hutchison and Joel Johnson were not required to file quarterly reports, because they don’t plan to raise or spend more than $1,000 in this election cycle.
Corey Hill has both raised and spent the most of the six Democrats running for county commissioner. His $2,722 in money raised includes a $1,500 loan to himself that is still outstanding.
Hill spent $1,645, mostly on printed advertising materials, through the end of April.
Travis Summitt ended the first quarter of 2012 with $972 in money raised. He spent $701 on campaign signs and newspaper advertising in the Salisbury Post and the Cleveland Chronicle.
United Auto Workers North Carolina Voluntary Political Action Committee also gave $500 each to Summitt, a mechanic with Daimler Trucks North America, and Hill, a local union president at the same workplace.
Leda Shuping Belk, Carrol Crawford, Thomas J. “Jack” Eller and Ralph M. Walton don’t plan to raise or spend more than $1,000, so they did not file quarterly reports.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.

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