Funding disparity marks Gresham mayoral race
A funding gap has developed in the bid to become Gresham's next mayor, with one candidate raising almost 33% more than his next closest competitor.
As of Monday, Sept. 28, Councilor Eddy Morales has received the most cash contributions to his campaign, totaling $84,511, according to the Oregon Secretary of State's website. That amount begins on Jan. 1, 2020, and does not include donations made during his 2018 bid for Gresham City Council.
"I knew this attack was coming — this is a desperate distraction for doing the work of engaging voters," Morales said. "We should focus our time talking about local issues."
Travis Stovall has received cash contributions of $28,737.09, beginning about two months ago when he launched his campaign, while Joe Demers has received $1,750. None of the totals include in-kind donations. Candidates Sean Bishop and Nick Switzer did not have financial filings with the Secretary of State's Office.
Many of the top donors to Morales have come from out-of-state. The candidate received $15,000 from Weston Milliken, the son of a South Carolina textile billionaire and member of the Democracy Alliance; $10,000 from Sandor Straus, a California-based financial investment consultant; $10,000 from Barbara Stiefel, a Democratic donor and heiress of Stiefel Medicinal Soap Company; and $10,000 from Loren Ostrow, president of the Los Angeles-based KOAR International, Inc.
"I have friends and family all over the country who are supporting me and my work in Gresham," Morales said. "I am really proud about the work I have done here in Gresham and across the country on voting rights, domestic violence prevention, civil rights and climate change."
The candidate added he has more donations from Oregonians than all his opponents, pointing to his efforts engaging local community members.
Stovall's top donors are $3,000 from Matt Miller, general manager of Gresham Sanitary Services; $2,500 from Anthony Guzzi, a local contractor; $2,500 from Mike Long, a Happy Valley resident; and $2,000 from James Bell, CEO of Designtechnica Corp.
"All of my funding with the exception of one donor has come from Oregonians, and not special interests from across the country," Stovall said. "Gresham voters and concerned Oregonians, in general, are fueling my campaign to ensure our focus remains on what is best for Gresham."
Demers top donors are $500 from Rip Caswell, a Troutdale-based sculpture artist, and $250 from Nearman4Oregon, a campaign group for Mike Nearman, R-Dallas, who is running for reelection.
"I believe funding at the smallest levels of government should be at the grassroots level," Demers said.
The first-time candidate is thankful for the support from his friends and family, who have footed most of his funds. His expenses have included developing a campaign logo and website, as well as producing yard signs and door hangers.
"I like the fact there isn't a limit on funds received by candidates, but it's an unfair advantage to those with billionaire and millionaire friends backing them," Demers said.
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