Candidates signal planned campaign spending
by Anna Oakes
Candidates for elected office in Watauga County were required to indicate to the county board of elections office their planned levels of spending by last week.
Within 10 days of filing, candidates are required to file organizational documents with the Watauga County Board of Elections, including the certification of threshold. On this form, candidates indicate whether their campaign committees will spend more or less than $1,000. Candidates who withdraw their certification to remain at or below $1,000 must file regular campaign finance reports.
However, candidates who certify under the threshold may file paperwork to withdraw that certification at any point in the election cycle if they believe they will exceed that amount, said Donna Houck, deputy elections director for Watauga County.
The race for Watauga County Board of Education will gear up early as eight candidates vie during the May primary election for six positions available on the November ballot -- and ultimately three open seats on the board.
Three of the eight candidates -- Jay Fenwick, Ronny Holste and Kurt D. Michael -- indicated they could spend more than $1,000 on their campaigns, while the others -- Tiffany Christian, Jason Cornett, Ron Henries, Josh Kanoy and Adam L. Trivette -- said they would not.
Candidates for Watauga County commissioner vary as to their planned levels of spending.
Neither Matt Klutz nor Karen Greene Lerch -- the Republican candidates for commissioners District 3 who will face each other in the primary -- plan to spend more than $1,000, but Democrat Billy Kennedy has indicated that his campaign will.
Republican David Blust and Democrat Larry Turnbow withdrew their certifications for the District 4 race. In District 5, Republican Allen Trivette certified below the threshold, while Republican Jimmy Hodges and Democrat Barbara Kinsey withdrew certifications.
In the race for Watauga County sheriff, incumbent Len Hagaman and challenger Randy L. Townsend both plan to exceed $1,000 in campaign spending.
Meanwhile, campaigns for district and statewide offices could easily amount to tens of thousands of dollars in fundraising and spending.
Year-end finance reports filed with the State Board of Elections show that the Britt Springer campaign for 24th district attorney had more than $60,585 cash on hand at the end of 2013, while Nathan Miller had $13,521on hand and Seth Banks had $50,653.
The three Republicans will face each other in the May 6 primary election. No candidates from other parties filed for the office.
Republican Dan Soucek's re-election campaign for N.C. Senate District 45 reported $8,822 on hand at the end of 2013, while his opponent, Democrat Jim Sponenberg of Lenoir, has not yet filed a finance report.
Republican Jonathan Jordan's campaign to keep his N.C. House District 93 seat reported $3,978 in the bank at year's end, while his Democratic challenger Sue Counts had $3,396, according to the State Board of Elections.
Not all candidates for federal offices, including the N.C. Fifth District seat in Congress and North Carolina's open U.S. Senate seat, have filed campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission yet. April 15 is the filing deadline for the first quarterly report of the year.