In the races for the Board of Commissioners, the incumbents running have taken in and spent much more than their competitors. The District 22 race, however, shows challengers to state Rep. Sam Moore (R-Macedonia) have taken in much more in contributions than the incumbent.
The candidates were required to file reports with officials declaring their campaign financials as of March 31. The commission and state House candidates are vying for the Republican nominations in the primary, though no candidates from other parties have signed on to face them in the general election in November.
While money plays a part in who gets elected, Cherokee GOP Chairman Rick Davies says it isn’t everything.
“I think we’re seeing a shift now where people want to hear from the people who wish to represent them. They want to hear from these folks, whether it’s a forum-type setting, or one-on-one; they just want to have the ability to interact,” Davies said Thursday. “But money does play a factor in this. Being able to get your name out there and get name recognition, and get the signs and the push cards and everything else, that it is extremely important as well.”
The race for Moore’s District 22 House has seen the most money changing hands, though most of it is in his opponents’ war chests.
Moore reported $6,903 in contributions and $3,503 in expenditures. He had $3,399 on hand as of March 31.
Of his contributions, $2,000 came from Moore’s wife, Galina. Trenton Adams, a member of the Cherokee GOP’s vetting committee, gave $500 in website work, according to the report. Adams recused himself from the vetting process for the House 22 race, Davies said.
Cherokee school teacher Meagan Biello, who lost to Moore in a runoff Feb. 4, brought in the most contributions with $35,426 and also spent the most with $30,183 in expenditures. She had $5,243 as of March 31.
Notable contributions included $500 from retiring Rep. Ed Lindsey’s (R-Buckhead) campaign committee and $2,500 from the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association’s political action committee. PACs for the Georgia Pharmacy Association, the Georgia Hospital Association and the Georgia Association of Realtors also gave to Biello.
Wes Cantrell, a Woodstock youth pastor, came in second in contributions in the race for Moore’s seat, with $24,259. He had $11,142 in expenditures and had $13,117 on hand.
Notable contributions included $1,000 from Johnny Hunt, the pastor at First Baptist Woodstock, where Cantrell works, and $2,000 from Andy Stanley, pastor at the large Alpharetta church, Northpoint Community Church.
According to Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens’ report, he had taken in $27,196 in contributions, more than twice that of his challenger, former Holly Springs City Councilwoman Jackie Archer.
Ahrens reported spending $11,934 by March 31, with $15,262 left in his campaign coffers. The chairman’s financial footing was in part helped by contributions from familiar faces in the Cherokee County’s political landscape. State Rep. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) gave Ahrens $2,500 in two separate contributions. Marshall Day, chairman of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, gave $500, the report shows.
Archer reported $9,548 in contributions and $7,473 in expenditures, with $2,074 on hand.
Archer’s campaign has also gotten help from well-known political players. Former Cherokee District Attorney Garry Moss chipped in $200. Local conservative group Grassroots Conservatives, which was founded by former Woodstock Mayor Bill Dewrell, contributed $101. Additionally, Dr. Austin Flint gave $300.
In the race for the District 1 seat on the board, incumbent Harry Johnston brought in $16,620 in contributions and spent $6,971. He had $9,648 on hand.
Like Ahrens and Archer, Johnston has also had well-known help.
The COED chairman gave Johnston $500. JoEllen Wilson, vice president for advancement at Reinhardt University, pitched in $250, as did Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood’s campaign committee. Canton Councilmen Bill Grant and Jack Goodwin also gave to Johnston, according to the report.
Johnston’s opponent, life-long Cherokee resident Steve West, took in $3,305 contributions and spent $1,890. He had $1,414 on hand.
Only two contributions were listed on West’s report, $250 from Nate Cochran, a former candidate for state House, and $300 from Flint. West reported that $2,755 in his contributions came from donations of less than $100, which don’t have to be specifically listed.
The District 4 seat of retiring Commission Jason Nelms is seeing the most competition of any Cherokee race in the primary. But not much money seems to be changing hands.
Former Commission Larry Singleton reported the most contributions with $4,411. He reported $3,593 in expenditures and $817 on hand.
Notable contributions to Singleton included $200 from Grassroots Conservatives and $500 from Garvis Sams of Sams, Larkin, Huff and Balli, a Marietta-based law firm which often represents developers in Cherokee.
Singleton’s fellow District 4 candidate, Kenneth Scott Gordon, a Woodstock architect, reported $3,807 in contributions and $1,762 in expenditures. He had $2,045 on hand.
Gordon’s top contributor listed was Bob Bullock of Bullock Enterprises with $1,000. Nelms, who endorsed Gordon as he announced he was not seeking re-election, also kicked in $500.
The third contender for Nelms’ seat, Woodstock business owner Joseph Robert, reported no expenditures or contributions and no cash on hand. He only reported getting a $2,000 loan, which he still owed, the report says.