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Even without re-election bid, Woodson has campaign cash to spend

Salisbury Mayor Paul Woodson will sit on the sidelines for this year’s city council races, but he’s got quite a stash of campaign cash that could be used in the 2015 election process.

Rowan County Board of Elections records show Woodson has more $5,000 in unspent funds from the 2013 race sitting in his campaign committee account. It’s more than either Councilmen Pete Kennedy or Brian Miller raised during the entire 2013 campaign.

Woodson has a few options for spending the money as a non-candidate for the city council. He can give it to a political party, another candidate, or a non-profit. Woodson could also pay back any money he loaned his campaign or return the money to his donors. Loan repayments can’t exceed the loan amount. He couldn’t keep the entirety of the more than $5,000, and Woodson’s campaign finance reports filed with the Board of Elections don’t show any outstanding loans.

He’s already got a few ideas about how he might spend the extra money. Of course, Woodson could also hold onto the money to fund campaigns for future political positions.

“I’m not running this time, but I’m not saying I’m not running ever again,” Woodson said. “I might use the money to help some of the incumbents.”

If Woodson donates to one or all of the three incumbents, he’ll be putting more money in campaign purses that already have a head start on challengers. The latest available financial records show Karen Alexander has $32.20 in her campaign account, Maggie Blackwell has more than $700 and Miller has $201.73.

Kennedy had about $440 in his account, but isn’t running for re-election. He didn’t return phone calls on Monday, but told Board of Elections’ staff he hadn’t yet decided where it might go once his campaign committee is closed. Last week, Kennedy completed paperwork to close the account. His campaign funds, however, must be depleted before the account is closed.

Woodson, on the other hand, hasn’t yet filed paperwork to close his campaign committee. Instead, his committee remains inactive. Until it’s reactivated, he can’t receive any contributions for a future race or make donations to a candidate.

“I’ll put it this way,” Woodson said. “I may run for council in the future or I may run for something else. I’d like to be in the race, but at this time I have to commit to my family.”

He joked: “I don’t know that I’m one to battle 16.”

Woodson’s case isn’t unusual, but it is different than most. He’s got the largest amount of cash still in his campaign account.

County Commissioners Vice Chairman Jim Green, for example, has about $520 remaining in his inactive campaign account. Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds has $137. Former City Councilman and architect Bill Burgin had $857 left in his campaign account before it went inactive in 2010, after he ran for county commissioner.

Woodson and Kennedy announced they wouldn’t run for re-election before filing for municipal races closed last week. The end result of filing was a historically large field that was last matched in 1975, when 15 candidates ran. In 1973, the same number of candidates ran. There were 12 candidates in 2009.

Of the historic number of candidates, only five will be elected to a two-year term. The election is on Nov. 3 and the Salisbury City race winners are customarily sworn in at the first meeting in December.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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