If it feels like this year's municipal election in Chapel Hill has been far more contentious, you're not imagining things.
According to the most recent campaign finance reports
filed for town races, this year's crowded roster of hopefuls has already outspent candidates in the 2011 municipal election
. Since that year also included a mayoral contest on the ballot with four seats up for grabs on the Town Council, it's a relatively fair comparison.
Total spending reported in that election for the Town Council and mayor was about $31,417. This year's crop, including the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town
(CHALT) PAC, has spent $32,384 thus far, based on reports filed in late September. Expect that number to swell greatly with Election Day approaching and many candidates sporting healthy amounts of cash on hand.
Incumbent Lee Storrow pulled in the most of all the candidates, with $20,721 raised.
Here's a key nugget too: Challenger Pam Hemminger, a former county commissioner and school board member, is clearly giving Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt stiff competition this year. County records show she's beaten Kleinschmidt thus far in fundraising, taking in $12,400 compared to Kleinschmidt's $7,883. For comparison purposes, Kleinschmidt only had to spend a few hundred bucks in 2011 to fend off challenges from Kevin Wolff and Tim Sookram.
Nevertheless, a recent Public Policy Polling survey still found Kleinschmidt in the lead.
Meanwhile, it's typically thought that incumbents enjoy a significant advantage in election fundraising. But candidates backed by CHALT—an anti-incumbent group— are more than holding their own in fundraising. Local blogger Nancy Oates has raised $8,442, second only to Storrow in the council races. CHALT co-founder David Schwartz raised $5,163. Obtain complete reports on each candidate from the Orange County Board of Elections.