High stakes, low funds in West Linn mayoral race
While the race for West Linn mayor is heating up, only one of four candidates has any campaign finance information reported on Oregon's database for election information, ORESTAR.
In her 2020 bid for the mayor's seat, current councilor Jules Walters has raised $9,300 in direct cash contributions and spent $7,200 as of Oct. 19, according to data on ORESTAR.
The other three candidates for mayor — Rich Sakelik, Robert McCarthy and Andrew Mallory — have no campaign finance information listed on ORESTAR, though they each have a page dedicated to donation information on their campaign websites.
Oregon election law allows campaigns that raise or spend less than $3,500 to submit a Certificate of Limited Contributions and Expenditures, so they don't have to file transaction information with ORESTAR, though they are told to keep detailed records of their transactions in case they approach that amount.
Sakelik and Mallory said they were approaching the $3,500 threshold so their campaign finance information should be visible on ORESTAR sometime this week.
Initially, Sakelik chose to submit the Certificate of Limited Contributions and Expenditures because it can be time-consuming to report each campaign transaction with ORESTAR. He noted that he kept track of his finances in case he did approach $3,500 in either expenses or contributions.
Oregon campaign law requires candidates and their campaigns (except for those that won't exceed $3,500 in contributions or expenditures) to report all transactions within seven days. Failing to do so could result in civil penalties, according to the 2020 Oregon Campaign Finance Manual.
McCarthy was surprised to hear that his campaign information was not available on the website, saying he believed that he had reported all transactions to the secretary of state.
Based on his records, McCarthy said his campaign had raised around $2,000 thus far from 12 different donors in West Linn.
His campaign spent around $1,000, he said, mostly for yard signs. McCarthy said he would ask the state why his finance records were not showing up.
Mallory said his campaign treasurer, Michael Kiel, asked the state last week why the finance information for Mallory's campaign had not yet appeared on the website.
Kiel said he would submit all the campaign's finance information to ORESTAR if it approached $3,500 spent or raised.
Sakelik said he initially did not intend to raise or spend more than $3,500 for the election, as he was running a small grassroots campaign. But as the race has gone on, his spending has approached the threshold, with most the $3,500 his own money, Sakelik said.
His campaign has raised only around $600, Sakelik said, because he has not approached large groups or donors for funds.
Sakelik said most of his money has been spent on yard signs and fliers sent to West Linn voters.
Notable donors to the Walters campaign include State Sen. Rob Wagner, who contributed $250, and former West Linn City Councilor Brenda Perry, who also donated $250. Lake Oswego lawyer Michael Wu donated $500.
Mayoral candidates in neighboring cities have dwarfed the fundraising efforts of West Linn's mayoral contenders.
As of Oct. 5, the three candidates for Lake Oswego mayor had raised a combined $122,000. One Lake Oswego candidate, John Lamotte, has raised $60,000.
In Wilsonville, mayoral candidate Ben West had raised nearly $40,000 as of Oct. 5 while his opponent Julie Fitzgerald had raised $16,000.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.