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Funds gap in City Council race

BY SHANE ERSLAND | OCTOBER 02, 2009 7:20 AM

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The three UI students vying for Iowa City City Council seats are hoping early voting, mass e-mails, and work on the ground will make up for their lack of campaign funds.

Hopefuls Terry Dickens and Susan Mims have both raised significantly more than the students, according to figures filed Thursday with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.

Dickens accrued the second largest sum on a pre-primary report of any Iowa City candidate with $15,915, second only to Councilor Matt Hayek’s total of $22,709 in 2007. Dickens’ contributions came from 261 donors.

Mims, the other nonstudent in the race, garnered $7,010 from 121 people.

UI student candidate Dan Tallon said the amount of money collected by Dickens and Mims would likely translate into votes for the two in the upcoming election.

“They’re raising a ridiculously high amount,” said Tallon, who did not report his numbers. “If someone gives you $100 [that contributor] is definitely going to go out and vote for you.”

Fellow UI student hopefuls Jared Bazzell and Jeff Shipley reported their numbers, though neither raised or spent more than $750, the minimum required to report.

Bazzell received $530 from six contributors, and Shipley acquired $390 from five.

Bazzell plans to send e-mails to roughly 28,000 UI students, faculty, and staff informing them of the importance of the election this weekend, he said.

He also plans to collect 100 signatures to take to Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett in an effort to hold early voting at Hillcrest, Burge, and the University Capitol Centre. Shipley said he is also trying to bring an early voting location to Mayflower.

“I’m not just going after students, though,” Bazzell said. “I’ve been told I’m the first student candidate who goes into the city, not just on campus.”

While UI students are using their funding to mainly target peers, the Iowa City residents are focusing on theirs.

If he makes it through the primary, Dickens said, some of his money will go toward advertising on radio and cable outlets, and any leftover will go to charities. He is working on getting some student support, he said.

“It’s tougher to get to the students,” he said. “But I’m going to talk to a poli-sci class this month, and we’re going to be involved in the Homecoming parade.”

Mims noted she’s already put most of her campaign funds toward building followers.

UI political-science Assistant Professor Jae-Jae Spoon said the student candidates are at a disadvantage because of the disparity in contributions.

“The big challenge for the students is just getting their names out there,” she said. “With limited funds, they’re not going to be able to take out ads in the paper.”

But Tallon remained optimistic his work will help him in the race, despite lacking funds.

“I spent the entire afternoon at the Senior Center, and I was also out at Kirkwood,” he said. “There are [17,000] students there we can team up with.”


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