Heidi Owen West, who is running for mayor of Saratoga Springs on the Republican line, jumped out to an early financial lead in the city’s mayoral election, according to campaign finance reports filed last month.
West, a business owner in Saratoga Springs, raised around $40,000 from April 13 through July 11, finishing her first fundraising period with more than $33,000 in the bank. Her cash-on-hand totals reported last month gave her a $24,000 financial edge over her opponents, Democrat Ron Kim and Robin Dalton, who is running as an independent.
“I’m just grateful for the support, it’s been far and wide, it’s been across the board, people that I’ve known my entire life, people that know me as a business person,” West said Friday. “It shows they believe in me.”
Kim, a former Saratoga Springs public safety commissioner and local attorney, raised over $23,000 during the same period but spent around $14,500, leaving his campaign nearly $8,900 in the bank as of mid-July, according to the campaign disclosures.
Dalton, the city’s current public safety commissioner, finished the period with just over $7,300 in the bank, after raising over $10,000 and spending around $2,700.
The campaign disclosures, which were due to be filed by July 15, give the first look at how much money candidates have raised in the city’s contested Nov. 2 elections. The elections will guarantee a new mayor and significant turnover among city commissioners, with just one incumbent commissioner running for reelection.
West’s fundraising lead came on the strength of 71 contributions from individuals, corporations and other campaign committees averaging $531 — about half of the individual contribution limit of $1,000. West received 23 contributions at the maximum $1,000 level. John Hendrickson, the husband of the late Mary Lou Whitney, contributed $5,000 to West through an online system; West a week later refunded $4,000 to Hendrickson.
West received about a dozen contributions from local businesses, particularly within the building industry. West also loaned her campaign $5,000; candidates can make unlimited personal loans to their campaigns.
West spent around $9,500 during the start of the campaign, much of which appeared to be the contribution refund; she also spent money on print and online advertising and campaign literature.
Kim had more individual contributors, totaling around 100, but registered a lower average contribution of $170. Kim said Republicans historically raise more money than Democrats.
“The Republicans always raise more money,” Kim said Friday. “We are going to be competitive, but that’s just the way Republicans roll, and Heidi is a Republican, we can’t forget that…. Her base is Republicans and if she gets elected, the bill will come due.”
West in response said that she has not been political throughout her life and identified herself as an independent.
“That’s not accurate,” she said of Kim’s criticism. “I am who I am, I’m a business owner, I’m an independent candidate, I grew up in this town, I’ve never been political.”
Kim said the larger number of individual contributions he received was an indication of widespread support.
“I think we have a broad base of supporters and that’s the coalition that will win this election,” Kim said. (Dalton did not respond to requests for comment Friday.)
While West outraised Kim, Kim outspent West. Kim spent over $14,000 in the first part of the campaign, including $9,600 on campaign consultant services from Albany-based Progressive Elections, LLC. Kim said the consultant spending was largely “start up costs” and would not continue at the same level throughout the campaign. Kim also loaned his campaign $4,500.
Dalton, who currently serves as public safety commissioner and is running for mayor as an independent, had around $7,300 in the bank at the end of the first fundraising period, according to candidate disclosures. Dalton raised over $10,000 and spent around $2,700 at the start of the campaign.
Among the roughly dozen other candidates running for city commissioner or county supervisor positions in Saratoga Springs, Democrat Minita Sanghvi stood out with the most money in the bank — and the most individual contributions of any of the candidates.
Sanghvi, a Skidmore professor running for finance commissioner, ended the first filing period with over $13,000 in the bank and received over 140 different contributions, including from people in Minnesota, Arizona, California, Georgia, Wisconsin, Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina and parts of New York City. She also received dozens of contributions from Saratoga Springs residents.