By J. Patrick O’Leary
By the time you read this, it’s old, well-traveled news: William “Bud” Starker beat out Joseph DeMott for mayor of Wheat Ridge, Zachary Urban retained his District II seat against challenger Rachel Hultin, and Leah Dozeman prevailed over three contenders for the District IV seat to be vacated by Genevieve Wooden.
Eleven days before the election, the candidates had raised a total of $70,147 and spent $55,732, with fundraising and spending bearing no clear relationship to victory. Turnout was low, with the least participation in the most crowded race.
The financial information available only reflects part of each candidates’ campaign spending. Data used is from the first candidate finance report, due Oct. 27; the second and final report is due Dec. 7. Copies of the filings can be found on the City of Wheat Ridge website.
Vote totals are unofficial, and the official abstract of votes from the county are not due until Nov. 24. Election returns are available from the Jefferson County Clerk’s website.
Big Bucks for the Big Race
The contest for Wheat Ridge mayor drew $43,883 in contributions and spent $32,645 – almost two thirds of the total raised, and 60 percent of the spending. Only 8,172 (35 percent) of the 23,345 registered voters in the city cast ballots.
“Bud for Mayor” raised $28,935 and spent $18,372 by the end of October, and Starker gathered nearly 54 percent of the 8,172 votes cast (4,326). DeMott raised about half the funds of his opponent – $14,948 – and spent about 22 percent less, $14,273.
Starker had the support of the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, the Realtor Candidate Political Action Committee and the Metro Housing Coalition Political Committee, each contributing $1,000.
DeMott’s largest contributor was himself, with a total of $11,329 cash and non-monetary contributions. Of note was a $300 contribution from Citizens for an Inclusive Wheat Ridge, a political issue committee formed to support Ballot Initiative 300, which placed restrictions on the city’s use of Tax Increment Financing. (The committee amended its registration in July to be a political action committee in the this year’s mayoral and council election.)
Expensive Four-Way Fightin District IV
The most expensive council race – $18,301 contributions and $15,797 spending – involved four candidates vying for Wooden’s District IV seat. Those figures are about a quarter of the totals raised and spent in the city. Yet it had the lowest turnout: only 1,414 (26.5 percent) of the District’s 5,335 registered voters cast ballots.
Of those, 541 (40 percent) put Leah Dozeman into the seat, after her campaign raised and spent $5,987 and $4,001 – about one-third and one-quarter of money in that District. Of note, her campaign received $500 from the Realtor Candidate Political Action Committee, as well as $300 from Citizens for an Inclusive Wheat Ridge.
Despite Val for Wheat Ridge 4 raising $8,240 and spending $8,027 – 38 and 100 percent more than Dozeman – runner-up Valerie Nosler Beck received just under 30 percent of the votes (402). That’s 45 percent of the contributions raised, and 51 percent of spending in the district.
Andrew Rasmussen raised $2,489.19 and spent $2,183.37, and received 300 votes, or 22 percent of ballots cast.
Neighbors4Ruth raised and spent the least in this race – $1,584 and $1,584, respectively. For that, candidate Virginia Ruth Baranowski garnered 118 votes, just under 9 percent.
Lowest Spending, Strongest Turnout in District II
In District II, $7,962 had been raised and $7,289 spent in the weeks prior to the election. It had the highest turnout of the council races, with 2,169 (38.1 percent) of 5,689 registered voters casting ballots.
Urban retained his council seat by 46 votes, earning 51 percent (1,086) of the votes cast. His challenger, Hultin, raised 75 percent more in contributions ($5,071.26 to Urban’s $2,891.17, 64 percent of total) and spent 53 percent more ($4,406.51 to $2,882.50, 60 percent of total).
Urban was his own largest campaign contributor at $1,416.17, and also received $300 from Citizens for an Inclusive Wheat Ridge.
Hultin was also her own biggest booster at $775, followed by the Denver Metro Realtors Candidate Committee, which provided $500.