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Withers outspent Caskey, Pierce during county commissioner race

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Former China Grove Mayor Lee Withers spent significantly more in his campaign for county commissioner and received much more in contributions, but incumbents Craig Pierce Pierce and Mike Caskey used their name recognition as a key strategy to secure the two open seats on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

The latest available campaign finance reports campaign finance reports were due last week and they include a time span of Jan. 1 to Feb. 15. Withers, the lone challenger in the race, spent the most money of any candidate on campaign efforts. He spent $6,758.73, and an overwhelming majority of that — $6,632.10 — was for media work with local firm Miller Davis. Withers ended the reporting period with $1,868.52 cash-on-hand.

Withers said a big portion of the expenditures was due to mailer being sent within the two weeks leading up to the election to get his name and positions out to voters.

Withers’ campaign generated $8,561, most of which was from individual donations. Withers contributed $276.50 of his own money, as well.

And while Pierce spent more money for his campaign than Caskey and didn’t generate any public donations, he also finished the first quarter of the year with significantly more cash-on-hand than Caskey and Withers.

Pierce spent $2,488.50 during his campaign, saying he didn’t need to invest much into campaigning because of his name recognition and incumbency advantage. The money he spent went to radio ads with Ford Broadcasting, owned by State Sen. Carl Ford, and Memories 1280 for the purpose of any people new to the area.

“People know me,” he said.

Pierce added that this will be his last term, and he has a few projects in mind to pursue for the board.

Rather than receiving contributions, Pierce invested $25,000 of his own money into his campaign and did not accept any contributions. That resulted in a total cash-on-hand amount of $22,511.50 at the end of the reporting period.

Caskey spent a total of $1,156.50 for the election cycle, finishing the quarter with $568.50 cash-0n-hand. He also invested $225 of his own money into his campaign efforts.

Caskey credits himself with running frugal campaigns and using grassroots efforts rather than spending a lot of money. Since he wasn’t in the county for weeks before the election due to required military training, he said spending more money for campaigning was necessary. Otherwise, he’d be able to attend events and talk to people, Caskey said.

He added that contributions made to his campaign helped him in his absence. He received a total of $1,725 in contributions in the election cycle, including his own. The majority of that amount, which was $1,375, was donated during the more recent reporting period. His largest single contributions were both in the amount of $300 from Steve Fisher, of F&M Bank, and Paul Fisher, formerly of F&M Bank.

The largest donations to Withers’ campaign came from a number of prominent businessmen, including: a total of $2,000 from Greg Alcorn, CEO of Global Contact Services; $1,000 from Dyke Messinger, formerly president and CEO of Power Curbers; $500 from Steve Fisher; $500 from Paul Fisher; $500 from philanthropist Fred Stanback; $500 from banker and City Councilman Brian Miller; and a total of $500 from Wallace Realty’s Robert Victor Wallace

Withers said the contributions he received from “strong, passionate people” serve as an indication that he had county-wide support despite his loss.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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