Fundraising Heats Up as UWS City Council Candidates Vie for Brewer's Seat
UPPER WEST SIDE — With the election more than a year away, the four candidates running to replace Gale Brewer as the Upper West Side's City Council representative have ramped up election spending, banking hundreds of thousands of dollars in a bid for the three term incumbent's seat.
District 6 candidate Helen Rosenthal, a member of Community Board 7, led the pack, raising $152,981 since declaring her candidacy late last year, according to Campaign Finance Board reports released Monday.
Candidate Ken Biberaj, a vice president at the Russian Tea Room, came in second with $131,020, after entering the race this spring.
Mel Wymore, a member of Community Board 7 and a systems engineer, raised $111,863, while Marc Landis, an attorney at Phillips Nizer LLP, brought up the rear just a few hundred dollars behind — with $111,143.
The four are seeking to fill Councilwoman Gale Brewer's seat, who has served since 2002, but will have to step down at the end of 2013 because of term limits. Brewer, who is well-liked in the district, has said she is running for Manhattan Borough President, though she has not begun fundraising or launched a campaign for that seat.
Jordan Jacobs, Wymore's campaign manager, said he isn't worried about where each of the candidates stacks up in terms of fundraising contributions this far out. "This is a publicly financed campaign with spending limits, in the end everyone raises and spends the same amount of money," he said.
"To me the story is where did people’s money come from — do they have strong support across the community?" said Jacobs, citing the fact that 90 percent of Wymore's funds came from contributors living in New York City.
Biberaj's contributions are a different case; 47 percent are from outside New York City.
Biberaj said his campaign is "overwhelmed by the support we have received in the four months since launching the campaign — not just because the campaign is fully-funded over a year in advance, but all because of the sheer volume of donors we had."
Biberaj had 823 contributors while Wymore had the fewest, with 279.
Though Rosenthal is in the lead monetarily, she also pivoted focus to the makeup of her donors. "I’m running a grassroots campaign," she said.
"I’m guessing that around 80 percent of my donations are for $175 or less and I'm really proud that a lot of my donations are from the grassroots."
Landis said he was grateful for the strong support of the community (70 percent of his donors are New York City residents) in a short period of time. He entered the race in early 2012.
Landis wants to get the conversation centered on issues though, including "improving our education system, expanding our affordable housing options, improving our quality of live and reforming how our government works."
The next official fundraising filing with the New York City Campaign Finance Board in six months.