“Money, Money, Money” in Local Races

The not-for-profit Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) has been helping the public to track contributions to Virginia political candidates. Founded in 1997 as a collaboration among the largest newspapers in our commonwealth, it has expanded the breadth of its reporting to include the financial accounting for many local candidates. This is of particular benefit to the electorate because those seeking municipal offices can choose to file their reports either electronically or on paper. If not for the efforts of VPAP to collect and share the paper filings, those reports would be effectively shielded from public view by the necessity of visiting the local registrar of voters office every filing period to examine them.

At the close of the April filing period, the Virginian-Pilot summarized data on Portsmouth mayoral and council fund raising and spending during the first quarter of 2016. (See Johanna Somers’s article from April 18.) The information it published came from the VPAP database. No report has yet hit the newspapers regarding the next filing period, which closed June 6. For whatever reasons, VPAP needed a few weeks to gather and enter those figures for the public to retrieve. We have been checking their progress periodically and are pleased to report its availability at the VPAP Portsmouth Local Elections page. Clicking on the dollar amount for each candidate opens another page affording access to more detailed information. Please note that because of Mayoral Candidate Clifford Page and City Council Candidate Elizabeth Psimas apparently engaged in no financial activity prior to their qualification as candidates this June, they filed no reports in the last period. When the next set of reports get posted on July 15 covering June 3 through 30, we should expect to see activity for them. Also, the data for Mayoral Candidate Barry Randall is not up to date in VPAP, but the candidate himself was gracious enough to fill in the gap.

Based on the June 6 filings, these are the amounts of cash on hand each candidate had as of June 2:

Mayoral Candidates

John Rowe                                                                   $30,718
Shannon Glover                                                           $13,539
Kenneth Wright                                                            $12,744
Jim Sturdevant                                                             $  9,206
Barry Randall                                                               $     320
Cliff Page                                                                      (no report)

City Council Candidates

Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky                                                $ 9,775
Lisa Lucas-Burke                                                           $ 4,026
Nathan Clark                                                                  $ 3,600
Paul Battle                                                                      $    938
Donna Biggs Sayegh                                                     $    784
Cathy Revell                                                                   $    256
Leon Boone                                                                    $    200
James Bailey                                                                  $      48
Ray A. Smith                                                                   $        0
Elizabeth Psimas                                                           (no report)

Although raising large sums of money does not ensure election, it does increase a candidate’s visibility to the electorate. Financial disclosures also indicate which individuals and special interests support the various hopefuls. As we are judged by the company we keep, assessing a candidate by the contributions they attract seems prudent.


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