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LIGHTNING CHARTS: Who gave what in city election

Jeff Miller speaks at a Historic Seventh Avenue District campaign forum at the Hendersonville Depot. Jeff Miller speaks at a Historic Seventh Avenue District campaign forum at the Hendersonville Depot.

Hendersonville City Council candidate Jeff Miller blew away the competition in fundraising for the Hendersonville city election in a campaign that is shaping up as an unusually high-spending one.

 

Miller raised $7,220 — without making any fundraising calls himself, he said — and led all candidates for mayor and council by a wide margin. His impressive war chest triggered a charge from two-term incumbent Jeff Collis that a city pro-business group was trying to "hijack the city from the residents."
Former District Court Judge Steve Franks reported a campaign fund of $5,339.80, all but $300 of that his own money. The incumbent Franks hopes to unseat, Mayor Barbara Volk, raised just $20 for the June 30-Aug. 28 reporting period but had $1,637 cash on hand when the period started.
The third mayoral candidate, Councilman Ron Stephens, gave his campaign $1,000 and raised $2,335 in individual donations ranging from $10 to $500.
"I would say two things," Stephens said. "The cost is up and while I've had some people that have been very generous it is more difficult to raise money. A lot of people are tight, they are having to cut back on all kinds of spending."
Stephens said he did not anticipate holding a formal fundraiser.
"I really have not had time to," he said. "We are having some neighborhood coffees but I have not planned a big fundraiser yet and I don't know that I will."

Campaign DonationsDebt and taxes
Miller, who earned broad name recognition through his work founding and carrying out the HonorAir program for World War II veterans and as the Republican nominee for the southern N.C. mountains congressional seat in 2010, said supporters came to him about running and have donated money without his asking.
"I said I'm not going to ask a single person for money and I haven't and I won't," he said. "There were some people that were concerned with how business was being treated and also were worried about the debt and the taxes that were coming and were afraid that would continue so they're out raising money just to help with my campaign. I told them I wasn't going to raise any money because I'm tired of asking people for money" both for HonorAir, the program that flies World War II veterans to the National World War II Memorial, and from his 2010 congressional campaign.
He said he hopes to use the money to raise awareness that there is a campaign and increase voter turnout.
"To do this and to do it effectively I would like to run a bit of a real campaign, if nothing else to make people aware there is a city election," he said. "Just a few over 900 people voted in the last city election and more than anything I'd like to promote an awareness that there is an election coming up and would like to get people involved in it."

 

 

Collis: PEP 'trying to hijack city'
Two-term incumbent Jeff Collis said he had no plans to raise money. He suggested that Miller's take could be a sign that business interests expect something from the dry cleaning company owner and former congressional candidate.
"This year I knew with Jeff being in the race and Ron being in the race I kind of wanted to make my own point of not asking folks for donations," said Collis, a state probation officer. "Of course I've taken some criticism that that was a bad move to do. I'm walking neighborhoods, making my own fliers and delivering those door to door as opposed to doing mailers."
"The Partners for Economic Progress are really trying in my opinion to hijack the city from the residents," Collis said, referring to the business organization funded by car dealers, developers, construction companies, convenience store owners and land owners. "That was one of the big things to me. I wanted to be the alternative to that. Jeff may be their darling today and four years from now if he actually makes common sense decisions he won't be their darling again."
Miller said if he is elected he would balance interests of everyone.
"It's unbelievable to me that someone would pit the businesses against the residents," he said. "Businesses can't survive without them and vice versa. If you start looking at the taxes a lot of these businesses are paying, it's taxation without representation, because they don't live in the city. Not one person has asked me to do anything other than try to contribute to running the city in such a way that we don't get into big debt and have our taxes and regulations go up. They just want to be heard and I think it's fair for them to be heard.
"For Jeff Collis to paint this as business against residents I think is unwise and certainly unfair," he said. "I am a businessman and they trust my ability to solve problems and to contribute."

Campaign ExpendituresMiller gets $656 per donor
Miller's total came from 11 contributors, for an average of $656, by far the highest per donor amount. Taking out candidate self-funding, other average donations were $150 for Franks, $166 for Stephens, $20 for Volk, in the mayoral race. For council candidates, averages were $132.50 for Guri Lee Andermann, $43 for Diane Caldwell and $83 for Jerry Smith.
Volk said she expects she will raise roughly the same amount she raised in 2009.
"I imagine there will be a lot of advertising and that always adds up," she said. Campaign donations are up "probably more so than usual. I was able to get plenty of money last time. I expect I'll have what I need this time again. I think I spent about $4,000. I'm not changing my plans. I know what I intend to do and I'm going to stick with it. It doesn't matter what other people to do. I'll do what I have in the past."
Candidate spending ranged from $11 for Caldwell to $2,609 for Miller and $2,520 for Stephens.
Voters are likely to hear more from Collis, Miller and other candidates not just about the campaign but also about campaign fundraising.
"It's kind of disheartening because I know Jeff, and I think he's a great guy," Collis said. "I don't care what people say. When people donate money they're expecting to have a little bit of edge. That's why I thought I'm just not going to do it this time around."
Along with the city's debt, the council and mayoral race is likely to focus on the city's debt and the prospect of higher taxes to pay it off.
"Right now we're $12 million in debt and they're wanting to add $6 million (for Berkeley Park) and they're spending like drunk sailors," Miller said. "It's not just business people that are worried about the spending and the thought process involved in it. We all need each other."

 

FOR A PRINT COPY OF THE SEPT. 11 BACK ISSUE VISIT THE LIGHTNING AT 1111 ASHEVILLE HIGHWAY.