Carmel council incumbents raise less campaign cash than challengers

Incumbents could be in tight races in Carmel this year, if money has anything to do with it.

The pre-primary campaign finance reports, which were due Friday, show that council members Carol Schleif, Sue Finkam, Eric Seidensticker and Luci Snyder raised less money than their challengers in their respected races from Jan. 1 to April 10. 

Incumbents in the at-large race — Ron Carter and Kevin “Woody” Rider — were the only sitting council members to raise more than their opponents. 

The southeast district brought in the most money out of the council races. Snyder raised nearly $19,000 and Jeff Worrell, who serves on the Carmel Redevelopment Commission, raised $20,500.

In the one uncontested council race, Laura Campbell collected $5,644.

Clerk-Treasurer Diana Cordray also raised significantly less than opponent Christine Pauley. Cordray reported raising $2,964 from the first of the year until April 10, while Pauley collected $16,875.

On the other hand, in the mayoral race, five-time incumbent Jim Brainard came close to doubling donations given to his opponent, city council president Rick Sharp. Brainard collected $115,196 since Jan. 1 and Sharp brought in $65,252.

A majority of the donations to both campaigns came from outside of Carmel. About 57 percent of Brainard’s donations were from individuals or businesses outside of the city, and about 60 percent of Sharp’s fundraising wasn’t in Carmel. (Although most of the donations were from the surrounding area, including other northern suburbs and Indianapolis.)

Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear also had a long list of donations from other suburb cities, contributing to his total of $43,025. His opponent, Mike Corbett, raised $7,274.

In Westfield, Mayor Andy Cook’s biggest donations of $2,500 each came from Indianapolis businesses — Faegre Baker Daniels and CHA Consulting PAC. Cook collected a total of $13,300. Challenger Jeff Harpe raised $7,507, with most of his campaign funds coming from loans he made to himself.

Brainard’s highest single donation was $5,000, but he received a total of $20,000 between Carmel-based Pedcor and the company’s executives. Pedcor has been the primary company working with the Carmel on the City Center development.

Brainard spent $155,373 in the same time period, mostly for television commercials and other campaign advertisements.

Sharp spent $88,813 from Jan. 1 to April 10, with a majority of it going to Palatine, Illinois-based Cor Strategies for campaign advising.

His biggest donor was Stuart and Suzanne Reed, who gave $10,000. Stuart Reed is the president of Indianapolis-based Magnolia Health Systems.

Brainard had $102,391 cash on hand as he entered the remaining few weeks of the primary election season, while Sharp reported having $46,289 left in his campaign account.

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