Money talks -- but sometimes it mumbles.
That's one conclusion that emerges from the final campaign spending reports from Payson's most expensive council election ever -- with winning candidates spending between $10.47 and 2 cents per vote.
Triumphant mayoral candidate Kenny Evans spent $27,860, more than twice as much as incumbent Mayor Bob Edwards. Evans loaned his own campaign $11,000 and ended up spending $10.47 per vote received -- again nearly double Edwards' $5.55 per vote spending rate.
Evans loaned his own campaign $11,000, compared to the roughly $1,000 Edward's loaned his campaign, which he paid back to himself in the final month of the campaign. Evans was the only candidate with a significant amount of money collected in amounts smaller than $25 -- about a quarter of his total contributions.
In the council race, Realtor Michael Hughes was both the top vote-getter and the top spender, with outlays totaling $7,793, which worked out to $2.93 per vote received. Hughes was the only one to get a significant amount of money from a political action committee -- more than $2,000 from a Realtor's group.
The other two winning council candidates demonstrated that victory can come cheaply in Payson.
Incumbent Councilman John Wilson, a retired Internal Revenue Service administrator, was the hands-down efficiency champ. He spent less than $50 and came in third in the council balloting -- spending just 2 cents per vote cast.
Low-income housing developer Richard Croy also did well in the vote/cost ratio. He spent $1,140 and came in second, which worked out to just 43 cents per vote received.
The two unsuccessful council candidates spent nearly identical sums and received nearly the same vote. Both were recruited to run for the council by Mayor Edwards and both trumpeted his endorsement in campaign ads.
The three candidates split the bill for the majority of their campaign advertising. Retired highway administrator Tom Loeffler spent $4,693, or about $2.05 per vote. Retired hospital administrator David Rutter spent $5,522, or about $2.46 per vote.
Individual trends evident from the final campaign spending and fund raising reports included:
Evans raised a total of $18,943 from individuals, including $5,714 in amounts less than $25. He's the only candidate that raised a significant number of small donations. His personal loan to his own campaign also dwarfed loans by other candidates to their own cause, which generally totaled $500 to $1,000 and were mostly repaid before the end of the campaign. Evans didn't pay himself back, but ended the campaign with $2,643 left over.
Evans went on a spending binge in the final month of the election, with outlays totaling about $11,000 -- even though by then a majority of the voters had already sent in their mail-in ballots. In the closing weeks of the campaign, Evans spent $6,700 on newspaper ads and about $4,000 on radio advertisements.
The incumbent mayor also spent heavily in the final month, with expenses totaling about $5,666 -- including $2,000 to Cox Media, $600 for radio ads, $300 for newspaper ads, $526 for printing, small contributions to Loeffler and Rutter -- and repayment of an earlier $878 loan he'd made to his own campaign.
Edwards raised $12,495 from individuals, including just $130 in amounts less than $25. He got $766 from a neighborhood political committee and $1,285 in various "in kind" contributions.
Hughes and Evans were the only candidates who ended up with much cash on hand, nearly $2,000 in Hughes' case. He quit spending money altogether in the last month of the campaign. He took in $6,360 from individuals, nothing in small contributions, $2,190 from a Realtor's political action committee and $1,200 in in-kind contributions.
The affordable housing advocate ran a low-key, low-cost campaign, that raised just $75 in the final month and spent about $350. Croy raised a total of $920 from individuals, none of it from people who donated less than $25.
Out of the $5,347 Loeffler raised, more than $2,000 came in during the final reporting period. He got $3,547 from individuals, including $87 in small donations. He also loaned his campaign $1,000, which was partially repaid -- and got money both from Edwards and a political action committee that supported the incumbent mayor. In the final period, he spent $737 on newspaper ads, $298 on printing and postage and $666 on radio ads.
Rutter's final campaign spending report echoed Loeffler's on almost every detail, since they split with Edwards the cost of most of their political advertising. Rutter raised a total of $5,522, including $3482 from individuals and $40 from people contributing less than $25. Rutter loaned his campaign $1,100 and paid himself back less than half of it. Like Loeffler, he got some money from Edwards and the committees that supported him.
The incumbent tax auditor filed a statement certifying that he raised and spent less than $500, which means he didn't have to file a formal statement. In fact, Wilson said he spent less than $50 -- which included some materials left over from his last campaign. Nonetheless, he placed third in the council voting -- spending the bargain rate of 2 cents per vote received.