One week before the Ward 1 Democratic primary, the finance reports filed by the campaigns of Fish Stark ’17 and Sarah Eidelson ’12 reveal a vast difference in fundraising power between the candidates.
While Eidelson raised $370, primarily through personal cash donations, Stark raised $3,370 — over nine times Eidelson’s total — through a combination of cash, check and in-kind donations. Of Eidelson’s 26 donations, 21 were from Yale students, and all were from Connecticut residents. Stark’s filing, meanwhile, shows a nationwide operation, with donations from Connecticut, Maryland and California. Nine of 62 donors to Stark’s campaign in the filing period since June 30 were Yale students.
“We didn’t really start fundraising until people got back to campus because we believe it’s really important that the majority of our contributions are from students,” Eidelson said.
Stark’s largest contributions came from his parents — former U.S. Congressman Fortney “Pete” Stark and his wife, Deborah Roderick Stark — and Charles and Helene Kline of San Leandro, California. The donations from those four individuals totaled $700, nearly double Eidelson’s total.
Just over 75 percent of donations to the Stark campaign were in-state, and nearly 70 percent of his donations came from within New Haven. The average donation size to his campaign was roughly $61.
“Of course there are outliers, but in a competitive race, candidates usually raise between $2,500 and $3,500 dollars,” said Alyson Heimer, who serves as administrator on the Democracy Fund, the city’s public campaigning financing body.
However, Heimer added that, at the ward level, the number of supporters willing to canvass and mobilize other voters can be more important than the amount of funds raised.
Stark said the filing reflects the breadth of support that his campaign has enjoyed from across New Haven.
“If you look [in the filing], you will find people who supported a bunch of different mayoral candidates in 2013,” he said. “Not only did we show a lot of contributions from the city — we showed a lot of diversity of contributors.”
The largest donation Eidelson received came out to $75 from Ward 1 resident Kathreen Harrison ’11, an employee of the UNITE HERE union coalition, which also employs Eidelson.
Despite the disparity in fundraising totals, the two campaigns have similar figures for expenses. Eidelson’s campaign has so far spent $1,730. Only $150 of those expenses have so far been paid; the other $1,580 remain outstanding.
Edgar Avina ’18, the treasurer for Eidelson’s campaign, declined to comment on the campaign’s debt. He added that Eidelson, who has not yet held any fundraisers, has no plans for any fundraising events in the future.
“We believe that canvassing is the best way to fundraise,” he said.
Stark, meanwhile, has spent $1,850 in his bid for election, leaving his campaign with just under $1,400 in reserves. Both campaigns have spent the bulk of their funds on printing expenses for fliers and t-shirts, with Stark also spending $300 on food for events.
The Ward 1 primary election will take place on Sept. 16.
Clarification: Sept. 10
A previous version of this article indicated that nine donors to Fish Stark’s campaign were students. That is the number of Yale donors in the most recent filing period.