Campaign spending has dropped since the spring primary, when more local races were contested.
Several candidates raised and spent more than $10,000 each during the crowded races for the Republican nominations in May. But fewer candidates for local office face competition in the general election, and spending has fallen off.
Most candidates for Johnson County offices are spending a few hundred or few thousand dollars this fall on yard signs and other campaign expenses, if they’re spending anything at all.
Less than $4,000 has been spent on the only contested local race that isn’t for a school board seat. Johnson County Council member Ron West, a Republican, and Democrat Daniel Hardcastle are seeking to become the Johnson County commissioner who represents the northern third of the county.
West has spent $3,439 of his own money on signs, ads and his campaign website. Hardcastle received $500 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and spent that and another $147 of his own money to print campaign materials.
Twenty-two candidates also are running for 11 contested school board seats in the Center Grove, Clark-Pleasant, Franklin, Edinburgh and Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson school districts. Two of those candidates raised enough to file campaign reports. Under state law, school board candidates don’t have to file reports unless they raise more than $500, deputy clerk Reagan Higdon said.
Center Grove school board candidates Matthew Prusiecki and Rob Richards were the only school board candidates in the county who reported getting campaign contributions.
Candidates had until noon Friday to file campaign finance reports outlining what money was raised and spent between April and October this year. Anyone can see the forms in the voter registration office in the lower level of the Johnson County Courthouse in Franklin.
Residents can see which people and businesses bankrolled the candidates, political action committees and political parties. For example, the Johnson County Republican Central Committee raised more than $24,900, or about four times as much as the local Democratic and Libertarian parties combined.
The Democrats have one candidate for local office on the November ballot, and no Libertarian is running for local office.
Most of the contested races in Johnson County this fall are nonpartisan school board races.
“School board candidates often spend very little or nothing at all,” Higdon said.
Prusiecki reported raising $850 from himself and two donors. He spent all the money on signs, fliers, ads and postcards.
Richards reported receiving $1,200 from himself and seven
donors, including White River Township Trustee Mark Messick. He spent all the money on signs, ads and his campaign website.
Even a few unopposed candidates continued to spend money on signs during the fall campaign season.
Johnson County Council candidates Loren Snyder and John Myers, who both received the Republican nomination in the primary, each reported spending more than $7,000 since April, although most of that money was spent during the primary.
They and other unopposed candidates also have continued to raise money. Unopposed commissioner candidate Brian Baird and coroner candidate Craig Lutz both raised at least $1,000 since April.
The biggest local fundraiser wasn’t even on the ballot this year. Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers raised $40,114 this year, almost entirely from the mayor’s ball in February. Guests who attended included attorneys, engineers and general contractors who gave contributions of $200 to $2,500 at the ball.
Myers has in turn contributed some money to local campaigns, including John Myers’ county council bid and Albert Hessman’s primary run for Johnson County coroner.