How much does victory cost?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Ironton Municipal Court Judge candidates O. Clark Collins Jr. and Kevin Waldo have not found much common ground recently but both can agree on one thing: Politics is expensive!

Both candidates have had to dig deep into their pocketbooks to pay for their political campaigns in the heated race that has divided the city and put former neighbors at odds. Even before the stretch run of recent weeks, both candidates were feeling the financial sting.

&#8220It's expensive. It is a sad thing, too. Because it is so expensive and time-consuming, I think it deters a lot people from running for political office,” Collins said.

Email newsletter signup

All candidates that have either spent or received $1,000 on their campaigns must file pre-election finance reports with the Lawrence County Board of Elections. Both judge hopefuls were among the handful of candidates to file before the Oct. 27 deadline.

As of Oct. 19, Collins had spent $32,664 on his campaign with $1,825 coming from campaign contributions. Waldo spent more than double Collins with a total of $73,779, but more than $19,000 of that total was campaign contributions.

Each candidate sees the amount of funds they spend as a reflection of their campaign's greater purpose.

&#8220In a political race of this magnitude, it is important to make sure the people are aware of all the issues and all the untruths and misleading statements that are coming from the other side,” Waldo said of the campaign he admitted has been more costly than expected. &#8220I think it is important to get that message out there.”

Collins said he set a budget and has stuck to it.

&#8220I am running on my record and what we have done here for 24 years, Collins said. &#8220I never set out to buy the office and would never do that.”

&#8220We're sticking to our record. I have confidence in the voters that they will vote for the best candidate, not the one that spends the most money.”

Waldo countered that the reports are only preliminary and that Collins may end up spending the same or more by the time the final report is filed Dec. 16. Part of Waldo's spending has been made possible by the tremendous support received, even though individual donors could only give a maximum of $500 each, Waldo said.

&#8220I think (the difference in contributions) shows people have a strong desire to put me in and oust him from office. They think I am a better candidate,” Waldo said.

&#8220There has been an outpouring of support really from friends, family and associates. These people don't want anything. They just want to get involved and want to see change.”

Mary Wipert, director of the Lawrence County Board of Elections has spent more than 20 years overseeing local elections but said she has been amazed at the spending in this race.

&#8220I don't think I have seen anything like this locally since I have been here,” she said. &#8220I don't audit the campaign finances but I haven't seen it quite like this.”

The winner of the race may be able to recover from the spending a little easier since the position pays a total of $106,125 that comes from state, city and county monies. The judge's salary is set by the state based on populations and are served.

Voters will decide Tuesday whose money was well spent.