The council election in which challenger Fred Carpenter upended Vice Mayor Mike Vogel showed no clear relationship between spending and vote totals — and no sign at all of the real estate, developer and construction money that once played a key role in town politics.
For instance, Carpenter as of Feb. 17 had raised just $1,270 — the lowest tally among the four candidates in the race. Carpenter ended up spending just 42 cents per vote in winning his third-place finish, which edged out Vogel by just 23 votes.
On the other hand, Vogel had raised $3,940 as of Feb. 17. He ended up spending $1.33 per vote.
Su Connell, the biggest vote-getter among the council candidates, raised $1,910 — or about 58 cents per vote.
Taken together, those three reports would seem to indicate that spending a lot of money cuts your vote count, in Payson.
Then along comes Ed Blair — who finished just behind Connell and just ahead of Carpenter. Blair raised more than any other two candidates combined — about $5,985. That worked out to about $1.87 per vote.
The per-vote spending totals and therefore the per-vote average will undoubtedly rise with the next spending report covering the last month or so of the campaign.
So the spending figures would suggest that something besides advertising and signs largely determined the outcome.
Walking the neighborhoods?
Blair estimated that he knocked on about 3,000 doors. Carpenter figured he hit about 1,200 houses.
Vogel didn’t go door-to-door and many of his campaign ads urged people to support the Home Rule exemption from spending limits. Home Rule won in a landslide, Vogel lost by a whisker.
So those figures suggest that Payson politics remains retail — based on a personal connection with the voters and old-fashioned shoe leather.
Then along comes Su Connell — who got the most votes and didn’t go door-to-door at all.
Mayor Kenny Evans, running unopposed, filed a statement saying he raised and spent less than $500, which means he doesn’t have to itemize contributions or expenditures. That stands in striking contrast to two years ago, when he spent some $30,000 to unseat then-mayor Bob Edwards, in what probably ranks as the most expensive election in town history.
This time, contributions to all four candidates came in dribs and drabs — without a dominant source in terms of interest groups — like developer money.
Blair’s contributions testified to his continued ties to the Bob Edwards’ network of financial support. That includes a $200 contribution from Edwards and $320 from Al Poskanzer. Most of the contributions fell in the $50 to $150 range. Almost all of Blair’s donors listed their occupation as “retired.” Blair made an initial loan to his campaign, which he then paid back with contributions.
Vogel recorded a $410 contribution from builder Mike Amon, pretty much the only clearly construction-business oriented contribution on any of the statements. Vogel’s list of contributors demonstrated considerable diversity, with about half listing their occupation as “retired.”
Like Blair, Connell relied almost entirely on contributions from people who listed their occupation as “retired.” That included fellow councilor John Wilson, who donated $100.
Connell also recorded a $100 contribution from Signature Services, a business owned by Hallie and Chuck Jackman. Hallie is the developer of a luxury condominium project on Main Street that’s been in limbo for nearly a year and Chuck was last year’s rodeo boss.
Fred Carpenter mostly financed his own shoestring campaign with an $840 donation. He got a handful of other donations, including $100 from Gerry Owen, the former community development director who now works for the Ak-Chin Indian Community and left under pressure shortly after Town Manager Debra Galbraith was permanently appointed.
He also got $100 from Jan Parsons, who listed her employer as the Gracie Lee Haught Children’s Fund.