With five people competing for two seats, Center Grove school board candidate Robert Daniels wants to stand out.
He has raised and spent nearly $1,700 on signs, business cards, buttons and pamphlets in his quest to get on the Center Grove school board.
Getting his name recognized by the community is important, since he hasn’t run for office before, Daniels said.
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His spending pales in comparison to other local candidates for countywide offices, some of which have come close to spending $8,000 in their election bids.
But big spending among school board candidates it is a rarity. Of the 21 candidates for school board in Johnson County, no one else has reported crossing the $500 threshold.
“The school board race is important to me,” Daniels said. “I wanted to make sure I got the word out.”
Candidates for office are required to submit reports detailing how much money they have raised and spent, as well as the sources of their funding. The most recent filing deadline was Friday, for campaign activity from the beginning of the year through Oct. 14. Indiana law says school board candidates are exempt from filing reports unless they raise or spend $500.
Daniels, the only school board candidate in Johnson County to file a report so far, doesn’t think the amount of money put into the race is unreasonable. He has put in about $900. His father donated $700. By comparison, a Center Grove school board member is paid $2,000 per year.
“I’m not running for school board as a source of income,” he said. “I’m running for school board to give back.”
The amount of money candidates put into a race often is a sign how competitive it is going to be, said Center Grove school board member Carol Tumey, who is seeking re-election this year.
Like the majority of candidates for local races in Johnson County, Tumey is self-funding her campaign and said she hasn’t taken any donations. She hasn’t filed her campaign finance report yet and declined to disclose how much she had spent, but said she would file the report after the election.
Candidates for two lesser-known county offices are the top spenders for local races this election year.Surveyor candidate Paul Maurer raised and spent about $7,700 in his unsuccessful primary campaign. Treasurer candidate Michele Graves raised almost $7,600, nearly all of which has been spent.
The money spent has brought mixed success. Maurer lost in the Republican primary to Gregory Cantwell, who spent nearly $5,000 for the primary. Graves defeated incumbent Diane Edwards, after outspending her by several thousand dollars.
“The money I have spent in my bid to become Johnson County Treasurer has been worth it, because I know I can make a positive contribution to my community in that capacity,” Graves said.
Grave’s campaign was primarily self-funded, she said.
For Cantwell, who is unopposed in the general election, and Graves, a Republican who faces a Libertarian opponent, most of the campaign fundraising and spending was focused on earning their party’s nomination in the May primaries.
For the general election, Graves has been able to reuse items, such as signs, and has been reaching out to voters by attending candidate events, she said.
Jessica Hoyt, Grave’s general election opponent, has raised $531, a combination of her own funds and donations.
She has focused on face-to-face outreach. This has included setting up a booth at local events, such as the Greenwood Freedom Festival and the Johnson County 4-H and Agricultural Fair as well as doing a question-and-answer session with students at Franklin College. To keep costs down she has borrowed a tent and chairs for events.
Hoyt has also spent about $330 on signs, which she has been placing along Greenwood roads and giving out to friends and customers.
When Hoyt tells people she is running for treasurer, they typically ask what party.
“A lot of people haven’t heard of the word ‘Libertarian,’” Hoyt said.
“It’s been fun. I’ve been able to communicate who we are for a lot of people.”
While some local races involved significant sums of money, outspending one’s opponent isn’t any guarantee of winning.
In the race for three at-large Johnson County Council seats, several candidates dipped into their own pocketbooks to put several thousand dollars into their campaign, while others spent far less, either reusing items such as signs from past campaigns, or focusing on word-of-mouth outreach.
Incumbent John Mallers lost in the primary election, despite spending more than $5,200. Fellow county council incumbent John Myers spent $21 in his successful primary bid, and hasn’t spent any additional money on the general election, according campaign finance reports.
A look at how much money candidates and parties have raised and spent since Jan. 1:
Libertarian Party of Johnson County;$1,994;1,949
Johnson County Republican Central Committee;$45,769;$36,171
Johnson County Democratic Central Committee;$5,457;$6,530
John Mallers $5,286; $5,286
Jessica Hoyt; $531;$487
Michele Ann Graves;$7,575;$7,514