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Donations flow into local races
Candidates make final primary push
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Forsyth County News
Despite the sluggish economy, the business of politics is booming.

Since April, more than $55,000 has surfaced in Forsyth County via campaign contributions for school board and county commission candidates.

According to the April 1 through June 30 contribution reports filed with the county, there’s been no shortage of activity in local campaigns.

With $8,493 raised since April, District 1 commission candidate Brant Meadows received more contributions than any other commission candidate.

His opponent, Pete Amos, came in a close second at $7,815.

In addition to local business owners, both candidates relied on friends and family members.

Meadows received the maximum donation of $2,400 from his mother, Carolyn, and $500 from his brother, Stephen.

He also received $250 from incumbent District 1 Commissioner Charles Laughinghouse, who is not running for re-election.

Meadows said he is “pleased about the support” from Laughinghouse, as well as all of his donors.

“I am humbled and a bit overwhelmed with the generosity of my family and supporters,” he said.

Meadows said his plan for the next few days is “to be in full campaign mode” until the election ends at 7 p.m. July 20.

Amos also received family support from Mary Helen and John McGruder, who donated $250.

Mike Gravitt, who used to serve on the Forsyth County Planning Commission with Amos, and former School Superintendent Paula Gault each gave $250.

“This is where I thought we’d be at this time,” Amos said of the money his campaign raised. “I’ve got a lot of great support and most of my donations have been from friends and people I know, so every donation is appreciated by me.”

Mary Chatfield, the lone Democrat in the District 1 race, has only raised about $167, mostly from a donation from the Democratic Women of Forsyth County.

Chatfield said she hasn’t started raising money yet.

“I figured I’d wait until after the primary until I knew who my competition would be,” she said. “I probably will really start in the next week or so ... I figure I’d go gung-ho after that. If I don’t, I won’t stand a chance.”

To date, Meadows has $2,574 on hand, according to the reports, while Amos would appear to have about $875 on hand.

In the District 3 commission race, Todd Levent raised $7,315, outpacing the other three Republicans vying for the seat, including incumbent Jim Harrell.

Levent, who also loaned himself $7,000, said the support shows “people are behind a strong grassroots campaign right now.”

“I’m kind of the grassroots candidate that’s looking for the homeowners and the citizens to get behind me,” he said.

Harrell, who raised $6,235, said the difference in what he’s raised since April compared to Levent, which totals about $1,080, is irrelevant.

“Every campaign needs a certain amount of money to run on, but a great deal of it is more people power than money power,” he said, noting he has both. “We’ll keep working hard and trying to get our message out.”

Josh Shorr raised $6,230, just $5 less than Harrell. Most of Shorr’s donors contributed less than $100, a goal he said he set for his campaign.

“We’re reaching the people that have not typically been involved in politics because they have been disenfranchised for one reason or another,” he said. “We are making a push to make sure that people get out and vote.”

With just $875 raised from a handful of $100 to $200 contributions, candidate Mark Venco is far behind in the fundraising department. But that was never a goal, he said.

“It’s just been more about dealing with individual homeowners and not with large businesses,” he said. “My campaign is very much from the bottom up ... in tough economic times, you deal with the individual homeowners and work on a very personal basis.”

Harrell, Shorr and Venco did not loan themselves any money during this reporting period.

After expenditures like yard signs and other promotional materials, Harrell has about $6,428 on hand, which includes money he’s raised during his four-year term.

Levent has about $3,409 left over, Shorr has about $4,650 and Venco about $33.

School board races typically don’t draw as much money, but Republican District 2 race candidates are about on par with what their counterparts raised at this time in 2008.

Larry Duckworth has received about $476 in contributions, and loaned his campaign $4,397 of his own money.

His opponent, Kristin Morrissey, loaned about $2,200 to her campaign, but has also raised about $4,205.

The lone Democratic candidate in the race, Camille Fareri, has not filed her contribution report.

The Forsyth County Elections office, which collects the reports, has submitted her as a non-filer with the State Ethics Commission.

District 1 school board incumbent Ann Crow has raised $250 since April. But combined with what she’s raised in previous years, she has about $2,731 on hand.

Her opponent, Brian Sorrell has reported raising no money during this or any other reporting periods.