Tom Kacich | Mayor Feinen's fundraising impressive as well

Tom Kacich | Mayor Feinen's fundraising impressive as well

Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen's re-election earlier this month wasn't just impressive for the vote total — 84 percent to 16 percent for challenger Azark Cobbs — but also for her campaign fundraising.

Feinen collected nearly $30,000 in the January-March period, according to her report filed with the State Board of Elections.

That compares with the nearly $35,000 she collected four years ago in a much tougher, four-way race when one of her opponents was incumbent Mayor Don Gerard. She won the 2015 race with 41 percent of the vote.

Her fundraising also is impressive among the four major mayoral contests in central Illinois this month. She didn't collect as much as Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder, who reported $73,485, but Springfield is a political town with a strong mayor form of government. The mayor there has a lot more political clout than in a city like Champaign or Decatur with a professional city manager.

Feinen's receipts were greater than in Decatur, where Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe reported about $19,000 in contributions, or in Danville, where Mayor Rickey Williams reported about $5,000.

Most of Feinen's support came from the Champaign business community, including bankers, home builders, real estate agents and attorneys.

Her biggest contributors were Attorney's Title Guaranty Fund, Creg McDonald and Tom and Barb Frasca, all of whom gave $1,000. She also got $500 from a number of contributors including former council member Marci Dodds; developers Newt Dodds, Jerry Ramshaw, Brian Neiswender and Tom Harrington; and home builder Bill Peifer.

Coincidentally, Feinen began a new job last week as vice president of downstate operations for Attorney's Title Guaranty Fund.

"They were fine with me continuing to serve as mayor," said Feinen, who said she still has to close out some legal cases at the Tummelson Bryan & Knox law firm where she has worked for several years.

Feinen reported spending $14,970 on the campaign but said she has another $4,000 to $5,000 in campaign-related bills to pay that will cut into her current fund balance of more than $18,000.

Her electoral and fundraising success doesn't have Feinen thinking about higher office, she said.

"Being mayor is the best job in the world," said Feinen, who will start her second term as mayor in a week. "I'll never say never but right now I really enjoy what I'm doing and can't imagine that any other position could be this satisfying."

Heading a nonpartisan city council "where we work together and get things done together is great. It's a great job to be the mayor of a city of this size. You're doing things in a city with an internationally known university and yet I can run into all kinds of people I know at the grocery store or at Bunny's (bar and grill in Urbana) where it's still like a small town."

The city government, she said, is still small and responsive enough that she can help constituents with issues.

"You can get them an answer. It may not be the answer people want but at least you can get back to them pretty quickly," Feinen said.

In Danville, Williams reported 10 itemized contributions, including $1,000 from Phyllis and Joseph Fabrizio and $500 each from Timothy Price and U. Pete and Joan Williams. He also made a $300 personal loan to his campaign.

Williams reported $4,647 in expenditures. He wasn't the top spender in the race for mayor of Danville. That honor went to James "Mouse" McMahon, who spent $12,484. He finished second in the four-way race with 24 percent to Williams' 48 percent.

Londrigan starts over

Springfield Democrat Betsy Londrigan, who lost the 13th Congressional District race last November to Rep. Rodney Davis by less than a percentage point, has a long way to go to catch Davis in fundraising.

Her latest report to the Federal Election Commission shows $1,733 on hand, compared with the Taylorville Republican's $393,546.

Londrigan, who recently announced that she would run again in 2020, collected less than $4,500 in the first three months of 2019. She also made a personal loan to her campaign of $2,152.

She did, however, receive two substantial campaign contributions from top Illinois Democrats: $2,000 from U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth's campaign and $501 from the Reviving American Jobs Again political action committee of U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg.

Ammons and Burke

Unlike a lot of other political candidates, state Rep. Carol Ammons hasn't returned a campaign donation she received from indicted Chicago Alderman Edward M. Burke.

The veteran Chicago Democrat was indicted in January on federal extortion charges. He stands accused of using his aldermanic office to steer business to his law firm from businessmen who needed city permits. Almost immediately a number of recipients of Burke's past campaign support scurried either to return his campaign contributions or donate them to charity. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, at the time a candidate for mayor of Chicago, said she'd return $116,000 in campaign donations. State Comptroller Susana Mendoza pledged to donate her Burke-tainted campaign funds to charities.

Ammons, who got $3,750 from Burke in 2014 when she ran for state representative against Republican Kristin Williamson, hasn't done either, her latest campaign disclosure report shows.

Her report for the January-March period didn't show any transfers to Burke's campaign fund or any sizeable contributions to charities.

The disclosure report showed Ammons' campaign had a $79,636 balance as of March 31.

Harold money

Erika Harold, the Urbana attorney who lost the November race for Illinois attorney general to Democrat Kwame Raoul, hasn't shut down her campaign fund. She reported having about $62,000 on hand and even received a $5,000 contribution from a New Jersey energy company.

Tom Kacich's column appears on Sundays. He can be reached at kacich@news-gazette.com.

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