Clark leads in fundraising for Kingsport BMA race

Matthew Lane • May 19, 2013 at 7:15 PM

KINGSPORT — Alderman John Clark cranked up his fundraising efforts over the past six weeks, with donations from a number of Eastman executives and other white-collar workers in town, bringing his total campaign funds to more than $17,000.

Clark’s campaign coffers put him in the top fundraising spot for the May 21 city election, edging out challenger Linda Buckles, who raised an impressive $14,000 during the first reporting period of this year’s election season.

Kingsport’s city election is May 21 with voters going to the polls to elect a mayor, three aldermen and two school board members. Mayor Dennis Phillips is seeking a fifth term as mayor, being challenged for the first time since 2005 by political newcomer Gary Lane.

Vice Mayor Tom Parham and Clark are seeking re-election and will face off against three challengers — Buckles, Colette George and Eric Kerney. On the Board of Education side, the two incumbents — Carrie Upshaw and Andy King — are the only candidates running.

Financial disclosure forms are filed with the Sullivan County Election Commission office and detail campaign donations and expenditures. The first reporting period ran from Jan. 28 through March 31; this latest round ran from April 1 through May 11.

Clark, the vice president of imaging business at Agfa Healthcare, raised a respectable $9,554 during the first reporting period, though half of the funds came from a $5,000 personal loan. Over the past six weeks, Clark reported raising $8,000 and spending just over $7,000 on his campaign.

Small contributions came to $2,450 with the remainder being in larger amounts from the white-collar community — $200 from Eastman CEO Jim Rogers, $200 from Pal Barger, $500 each from attorney Beth Winstead and Taylor Brands, $250 from Eastman Vice President Paul Montgomery and $1,000 from another Eastman vice president, David Golden.

Clark garnering the support of a few Eastman executives comes as no surprise since his wife, Etta, is the vice president of communications and public affairs at the company.

Buckles, a retired schoolteacher and member of the Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee, raised an impressive $14,000 during the first reporting period, $4,000 alone from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and his political action committee — RAAMPAC.

However, this time around Buckles only reports raising $825 in contributions along with a $2,500 refund from Express Signs, bringing the total amount raised this year to around $15,500. The Buckles campaign reports spending $6,240 over the past six weeks.

Parham, who is seeking a second term on the BMA, remained in the third spot for funds raised this year with $8,000. During the latest reporting period, Parham raised $3,235 and spent $545.

George, the president of Blue Ridge Properties, raised $2,355 during the first reporting period, but upped her campaign funds by $5,000 during this latest round, bringing her total amount raised to $7,360.

And while Buckles may have been the first candidate to receive PAC money this year, she’s not alone. George received $1,200 from the Tennessee Realtors PAC and $250 from the First Tennessee (Bank) Local PAC.

Kerney is still mostly self-funding his run for alderman, loaning his campaign an additional $1,750 during this second reporting round and reporting just over $1,000 in contributions. During the first reporting round, Kerney claimed no contributions and personally loaned his campaign $4,600.

In the mayor’s race, Phillips again reports raising no funds, claiming just over $3,200 in his campaign coffers from previous elections. Lane loaned his campaign $107 in the first reporting period and $226 in this second round. Lane has received a $500 contribution from the Kingsport Firefighters Association.

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