With Morgantown’s City Council Election less than one week away, candidates are switching into high gear to lock in those last few crucial votes. As part of election law, preliminary campaign finance reports were published on Morgantown’s City Government website last week. In an effort to make the data easily accessible and understood by the public, Zackquill crunched the numbers and went wild with the spreadsheets to see what trends were available in the data. Below are four graphs that summarize our findings, which may help you decide which candidates will get your vote.
Graph 1: The Summary
The graph above shows the total amount of money raised by each of city council’s 14 candidates. The data does not include loans, which many candidates took out from their personal bank accounts to finance the race, or transfers from previous campaigns. The blue stands for donations less than $250, red is for donations greater than $250, yellow indicates fundraiser proceeds, and green represents donations of supplies, such as food, event space, or website design services. The biggest surprise from the data is Ward 6 Candidate Mark Brazaitis out-raising all other candidates, outperforming all candidate totals by small giving alone. To help break down this data even further, we can also look at two more telling graphs:
Graph 2: Number of Donors
The story of donors per candidate helps put some of the fundraising into perspective. Candidates Fetty, Wallace, Dulaney, Brazaitis, and Wendell seem to have substantially larger donor bases than the rest of the candidates. This may translate into higher, more motivated turnout on election day next week.
Graph 3: Average Campaign Contribution
This is where the data begins to separate two types of candidates. In the Ward 1 race, Candidate Fetty’s donor base was twice as large as Candidate Bane (21 donors to 9 donors), but Bane’s large gifts have given him a twice-over fundraising advantage. This is the same for wards 5 and 6 as well- large gifts have given candidates with fewer donors a major financial push. Looking back at our first graph, most candidates can be divided into two categories: those who built their campaign on a large pool of small givers, and those who drew funds from a small group of large givers. After a bit of digging through the data from large donors, a few names familiar to the community surfaced throughout these documents, which brings us to our last graph:
Graph 4: Contributions by Morgantown Landlords and Land Developers
Approximately 23% of all giving in the city council election so far has come from a handful of Morgantown property owners, landlords, and real estate developers. Going through the documents, familiar community names frequently pop up across multiple candidate reports. As blogger Sam Wilkinson over at The City of Morgantown writes:
The Biafora’s own and have developed considerable parts of the city, and have repeatedly demanded that the city council protect their interests (by intervening to either prevent or kneecap competitors’ projects). Andrew Smith owns Smith Rentals, a sprawling rental company that is not held in the highest regard by its customers. The Buzzos own Stadium View LLC, an apartment complex competing with newly built (and various car dealerships). Lorenze owns Suburban Lanes, Euro-Suites, Keglers, and Stefanos.
Zackquill was able to link $11,000 of the $47,888.44 of campaign contributions to local landlords or property developers. These donations do make sense: one of the primary purposes of Morgantown’s city government is to pursue municipal development through effective zoning policies and building codes. As real estate developers and landlords, there is a financial incentive to invest in friendly city council candidate’s campaigns. Looking through the data, it also becomes clear that a handful of candidates would have significantly less money for campaigning if it weren’t for this community of local businessmen, particularly candidates Bane, Bonner, Callen, McAvoy, and Redmond.