Kingsport candidates spent more than $65,500 in May election

Matthew Lane • Jul 20, 2013 at 10:43 PM

KINGSPORT — Candidates raised nearly $68,000 in campaign funds and spent more than $65,500 in the May 21 city election, according to the latest filings with the Sullivan County Election Commission.

Alderman John Clark topped the list of campaign donations, with just over $18,800, while challengers Linda Buckles and Eric Kerney both managed to raise campaign war chests in the five-figure range.

Kingsport held its city election on May 21 with voters choosing to stick with Mayor Dennis Phillips for a fifth term in office. Voters also returned Tom Parham to office, kept Clark in the position he was appointed to fill last year and brought Colette George on board to essentially fill the position held by her mother for the past decade.

Financial disclosure forms are filed with the SCEC office and detail donations and expenditures during the course of the campaign. The first reporting period ran from Jan. 28 through March 31; the second ran from April 1 through May 11; the final reporting period picked up on May 12 and ran through June 30.

In the last 10 days of the 2013 Kingsport election season, candidates spent nearly all of the money they had on hand. Phillips, who raised no campaign funds this election season, spent nearly $3,000 of the $3,200 he had on hand from previous elections.

In the fortnight before the election, only two candidates brought in any significant amount of funds — Clark and Kerney. Clark raised just over $1,300, the bulk coming from a $1,000 donation from the Tennessee Realtors PAC (which also gave George $1,200 for her campaign).

Over the course of the campaign, Clark reported $18,858 in donations, which includes $5,000 of his own money. While most of the money was used on advertising and signs, Clark did hold a campaign kickoff at the Mustard Seed Café ($280), a meet and greet at Giuseppe’s ($452) and another campaign reception at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s ($308).

Kerney’s plan to ride into office on anti-Kingsport sentiment from angry, recently annexed voters in Colonial Heights and Rock Springs simply did not translate into financial support during the 2013 city election.

Kerney brought in $4,325 in the final days of the campaign, but nearly all of that money ($4,175) came from a personal loan. In total, Kerney used $10,525 of his own money for his race for alderman, raising only $1,150 from private individuals.

The remainder of the alderman candidates brought in nominal amounts of campaign cash in the 10 days before the election. Buckles brought in $870, Parham $525 and George $124. In total, Buckles raised $16,370 in her bid for alderman, Parham $8,525 and George $7,485.

Gary Lane, who challenged Phillips for mayor, neither raised nor spent any money in the final days of the campaign. Lane gave his campaign $333 of his own money and received a $500 contribution from the Kingsport Firefighters Association.

In all, candidates raised nearly $68,000 for the 2013 city election and spent approximately $65,500.

According to city records, the mayor’s salary is $3,000 a year while an alderman’s salary is $2,400 a year.

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