Voter interest might be low, but the amount of money Ward 5 candidates have raised to get their attention is not.
Las Vegas City Council candidate Ricki Barlow has raised more than $500,000, while his opponent, Stacie Truesdell, has gathered $335,000 from the start of the year through May 24.
Reports filed this week cover the period from shortly before the April primary election to May 24. Voters will be unable to look at any last-minute contributions or expenditures until well after Tuesday’s election.
What the fundraising shows is that many donors are covering their bases, donating up to the $10,000 maximum to both campaigns.
Companies such as Republic Services, developer Garry Goett’s C&O Holdings and lobbying firms with regular clients in front of the City Council hedge their bets to make sure someone is willing to take their call at City Hall no matter who wins, local political observers said.
The candidates are using the money to get out their messages, which mostly boil down to "my opponent is bad."
Barlow has gone after Truesdell’s job as an attorney and a local government lobbyist, questioning whether she would serve developers or constituents. One mailer pictured her with convicted former lobbyists Lance Malone and Jack Abramoff.
Truesdell, meanwhile, has gone after Ricki Barlow by accusing him of lying about his residency and a domestic violence charge he pleaded guilty to 10 years ago.
"In any campaign, when an opponent attacks you, you have to respond," Truesdell said.
She maintains that the first negative volley came soon after the primary, when a Barlow mailer accused her of being bought and paid for by big developers.
Barlow, a former aide to Councilman Lawrence Weekly, did not return a call for comment on Wednesday.
But his campaign attributed his fundraising advantage to his strong showing in April’s primary election.
Barlow got 43 percent of the vote in a field of 10 candidates, while Truesdell received the second-largest percentage, 29 percent. Because no candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote, Barlow and Truesdell are running in Tuesday’s general election.
Gary Gray, Truesdell’s campaign consultant, pointed to Barlow’s fundraising totals as proof of hypocrisy.
Barlow has accused Truesdell of being in the pockets of developers while taking money from them, Gray said.
"This is another example of Ricki’s duplicity. He attacks his opponent for being a governmental affairs attorney, yet he rakes in half a million dollars from big lobbyists," Gray said.
Jim Ferrence, Barlow’s campaign consultant, said both candidates accepted money, but only Truesdell would have conflicts from her job.
Barlow is on unpaid leave from his position with the city.
The campaigns have been confined to mailers, door-to-door visits and phone calls, but that soon will change.
Truesdell’s campaign is going on TV with an advertisement accusing Barlow of lying about his residency and a domestic violence charge.
While Ward 5 residents choose a council representatives, most Las Vegas residents will be choosing who is the next Municipal Court judge.
Lynn Avants and Martin Hastings are facing off.
Hastings has raised $144,000. Avants has raised $104,000.
Almost all of the money raised by both campaigns is from attorneys.
In North Las Vegas, City Council Ward 2 challenger John Stephens has called his run against six-term incumbent William Robinson a contest between David and Goliath. The campaign finance reports show the analogy is true.
Robinson, the city’s 66-year-old mayor pro tem, has raised nearly $250,000 overall toward his campaign. Stephens, a library assistant, has raised $960.
Stephens has remained optimistic, and Robinson isn’t taking anything for granted.
"He (Stephens) signed up to run, so as far as I’m concerned he’s a viable candidate," Robinson said earlier this month.
Review-Journal writer Lynnette Curtis contributed to this report.2007 Municipal ElectionsNews & voter info
BY THE NUMBERS RICKI BARLOW • Amount raised between March 23 and May 24: $293,000 • Amount raised for the year: $502,000 • Amount spent: $422,000 STACIE TRUESDELL • Amount raised between March 23 and May 24: $159,000 • Amount raised for the year: $335,000 • Amount spent: $235,000 REVIEW-JOURNAL