With election still a year away, Feinen is in lead, according to recently filed financial reports
Just less than a year remains before the 2015 election for mayor in Champaign, but the wheels are already in motion.
And in the money race, city council member Deborah Frank Feinen has the early lead. But it's still very early.
The candidates' quarterly filings were due with the Illinois State Board of Elections last week. Here's what they looked like:
The money leader: $7,606.12
In her eighth year now as a city councilwoman, Feinen built up a bit of a bankroll last summer when she collected $4,020 in donations between July and September, and she has spent almost none of it yet. Although she's reported only $20 more since then (and her first quarter report for 2014 was two days late) she has amassed $7,606.12 to date — nearly twice as much as any other candidate.
Where is the money coming from? As far as the donations she itemized, 12 individuals contributed a few hundred dollars each during June and July 2013.
Second place: $3,840
Champaign Park Board president Joe Petry has been no fundraising slouch either, although almost his entire campaign account as of March 31 was his own money. He has yet to spend any of it.
Where is the money coming from? Of his $3,840, he had contributed $3,500 to his own campaign.
Third place: $1,935.13
City councilwoman Karen Foster has been relatively inactive. She picked up $1,500 in contributions in 2013 and has yet to do any real spending. She's sitting at $1,935.13 in campaign funds.
Where is the money coming from? The majority has come from three individuals who donated a few hundred dollars each, based on the $1,050 in itemized donations.
Fourth place: $1,701.50
The incumbent, Mayor Don Gerard, has the smallest campaign fund in the field, with $1,701.50. He's given away a lot of his money but has not collected a donation since the first quarter of 2013.
Last quarter, he gave $300 of his own campaign funds to the Boy Scouts of America and $200 to the Central High School baseball boosters. He also bought $500 worth of advertising with Illini Media. Last September, he made a $200 donation to the local firefighter union and $3,000 to doGood Consulting as part of a settlement with his ex-girlfriend for work she did while he was running for mayor.
Where is the money coming from? Gerard's most recent contribution came on Feb. 4, 2013: a $500 donation from the Comcast Financial Agency Corp.
The previous race
So what's the benchmark? Gerard spent $23,000 in the period leading up to and immediately following the 2011 election. His opponent, three-term incumbent Jerry Schweighart, spent about $17,000. Most of that money went for radio and TV advertising.
The results? Gerard paid about $5.37 for each of his 4,324 votes. Schweighart paid $4.15 for each of 4,092 votes.
There is not a whole lot of data beyond that for Champaign. Before 2011, the last contested election was in 1999. Schweighart spent nearly $15,000 in that election, but there were no campaign finance records available for his opponent, Marty Smith. Schweighart collected 4,924 votes in 1999 — 52 percent of the total vote.
Something to note with less than a year before next spring's election: Regardless of the results, the city council will feature at least two new faces come May 2015.
In addition to the office of mayor, three at-large city council seats will be up for grabs this year — Foster and Feinen each hold one of those seats. Who's running for what won't be finalized until after the November filing period, but with those two likely filing as candidates for mayor, the race for their at-large seats will be wide open.