Less than a month before Election Day, a look into the campaign war chests of the two candidates for alderman in Ward 1 reveal that incumbent Sarah Eidelson ’12 has raked in more funds than her Republican challenger, Paul Chandler ’14, but from fewer people.
Campaign finance reports filed Thursday show Eidelson with a moderate lead in the money race, with a total of $2,085 since her fundraising efforts began in the early summer. She raised $1,135 in the most recent fundraising period ending Oct. 10. While Chandler got off to a later start — this month’s deadline the first for his campaign — he reported raising a total of $1,510.
Both campaigns said they are focusing on raising money from within New Haven, primarily from Yale students. Though a third of Chandler’s funding comes from a $500 donation from the city’s Republican Town Committee, his campaign received contributions from a greater number of individuals than did Eidelson’s, 59 to 46, and in a much shorter span of time.
Eidelson’s average donation was $45, while Chandler’s was $25.
“Our fundraising efforts have been one part of our efforts to engage with the student community here,” Chandler said. “We did a big push to try to get students to donate, and 95 percent of donations are from people in the city and the vast majority are from students in Ward 1.”
Three of Chandler’s donations from outside the city came from Yale graduates and one from a family friend. The largest donation, $250, came from William Curran, a retired partner at the investment firm Halsey Associates and a resident of Temple Street. All but nine of the donations came from current Yale students, said Chandler’s treasurer Tyler Carlisle ’15. 45 of the donations were of $10 or less.
Curran said he donated to Chandler’s campaign in order to help break the Democratic hold on the Board, saying “we need a different opinion” in city government.
At Thursday’s Republican Town Committee meeting, Melissa Papantones, who challenged Connecticut State Sen. and mayoral candidate Toni Harp ARC ’78 for her state senate seat in 2008, offered to make a small donation to Chandler’s campaign because Chandler is “willing to go to battle for the Republican party,” she said.
Carlisle said the campaign’s goal is to receive donations from 100 students by Election Day and to raise a total of $2,500, matching Eidelson’s fundraising total from 2011.
Eidelson said fundraising has not been as central to this year’s campaign as it was in 2011, when she was vastly outspent by her opponent Vinay Nayak ’14. As in 2011, she said, her campaign has been funded from within New Haven, in addition to a few contributions from family and friends outside the city. Her largest contributions, of $250, came from family members in Pennsylvania.
Of the 30 donations in the most recent filing period, roughly half were from current students, and the others were from recent alumni or family members, Sterling Johnson ’15, Eidelson’s treasurer, said.
He said the campaign’s fundraising efforts are an extension of its canvassing efforts — and that most donors to the campaign are also volunteers, including Ward 1 co-chair Ben Crosby ’14, Nathan Campbell ’14 and former Ward 7 candidate Ella Wood ’15.
“If you look at the students who donated to Sarah’s campaign, they are students who are really invested in the local dynamic between Yale and New Haven,” Johnson said.
Eidelson said she has also received funds from high school teachers and Yale professors, including her senior project adviser, graphic design professor Pamela Hovland ART ’93, who said in a Thursday email that she was moved to donate because of Eidelson’s “intelligence and integrity.”
Campbell said he donated to Eidelson’s campaign because he has been supportive of her work on the Board of Aldermen, including her work as chair of the Board’s youth committee.
In response to Chandler campaign allegations that she is receiving special interest money and contributions from the city’s unions, Eidelson said those claims are disproved by her campaign finance filings.
“We haven’t received any contributions from any entity that is not an individual. No PAC money, nothing like that, and we don’t plan to,” Eidelson said.
Ben Mallet ’16, Chandler’s campaign manager, said he does not think all of Chandler’s donations were from self-identified Republicans. He said many students donated simply because they knew Chandler, who he said was a “familiar face on campus.”
Hovland said Eidelson’s choice to stay in New Haven increases her attractiveness as a candidate, writing that “She has made the choice to stay in [New Haven] to do this work when she has so many other options.”
Eidelson has also outpaced Chandler in spending so far, both candidates citing campaign literature, t-shirts and other merchandise as their main expenses. As of the Oct. 10 filing deadline, Eidelson has spent $1,653 to Chandler’s $872.
The general election is on Nov. 5.