Recent campaign finance reports in the lead-up to the Oct. 10 primary show challengers in the at-large and District 5 races raising serious cash to put up a fight against incumbents.
Michelle Kennedy, executive director of the Interactive Resource Center and a member of the city’s human relations commission, leads fundraising in the at-large race with $21,660, according to the 35-day reports, which were due on Sept. 5. Dave Wils, another challenger and one in a quartet of candidates who currently sit on the human relations commission, is the second ranked fundraiser in the race at $10,811. Mike Barber, an incumbent, as raised $8,050 in this campaign cycle, followed closely by fellow newcomer Dan Jackson, with $7,725. All four have out-raised incumbents Yvonne Johnson and Marikay Abuzuaiter, who have raised $6,150 and $4,235, respectively.
Tammi Thurm, a business administrator at the Hagan, Barrett & Langley law firm, has raised $27,110 — more than double the fundraising total for Tony Wilkins, the most conservative member of council and the incumbent in the District 5 race. But Wilkins came into the campaign with a $15,499 warchest, giving him a leg up on Thurm in cash on hand — $21,634 to $13,573.
Nancy Hoffmann, the incumbent in District 4, holds a tenfold fundraising advantage over challenger Gary Kenton, with Hoffmann raising a whopping $61,830 this year compared to $5,881 by Kenton.
Similarly, District 3 incumbent Justin Outling, an attorney employed by Brooks Pierce law firm, has raised $46,600, while opponent Craig Martin, an assistant public defender, has raised just $1,867.
The totals raised by the incumbents in districts 3 and 4 surpass what any candidate in the mayor’s race has mustered. Nancy Vaughan, who is seeking her third term as mayor, has raised $34,073, closely followed by challenger Diane Moffett, the senior pastor at St. James Presbyterian Church, who has generated $29,884. John T. Brown, a conservative candidate for mayor, has raised $10,552.
Michelle Kennedy, a surprise power player in the money race, raised almost half of her money from two donors: John Schamberger, a retired VF Corp. executive, and Regina Woods Schamberger, who each gave $5,200 — the maximum allowable amount under state law.
Kennedy also received a significant boost from Heidi Fleshman, an executive at the business consulting firm AmericanBio who serves as Greensboro vice chair for the Guilford County Democratic Party. Fleshman has contributed a total of $4,360. Fleshman said she has taken a leave of absence from her position with the party since the beginning of the campaign.
Kennedy has also raised $950 from board members and employees (current and former) at the Interactive Resource Center, and $600 from employees of UNCG.
Dave Wils, a teacher at Grimsley High School and Democratic Party stalwart, has built a diversified donor base, with almost 30 percent of his total receipts aggregated from donations of $50 or less. His largest contribution ($1,000) comes from Michael K. Mitchell, a product development manager at door manufacturer Endura Products who is the candidate’s father in law. Other large donors include Michael Garrett, a former candidate for state Senate ($500), and Mark Jewell, president of the NC Association of Educators ($300).
Dan Jackson, a conservative candidate in the at-large race, received an assist through a $200 check from the Greater Greensboro Republican Women’s Club, which is also supporting fellow at-large candidate James Ingram and mayoral candidate John T. Brown. But the Jackson campaign is largely self-funded, with the candidate kicking in a $5,000 check.The largest infusion of cash to Mike Barber’s campaign is a $5,000 loan from the candidate himself, but he’s also pulled in $500 checks from developers Richard Beard and Michael Murray, along with Tom Phillips, a financial advisor and former city council member.
Yvonne Johnson, who has balanced a concern for social justice with advocacy for development since her first election in 1993, received her largest check ($1,000) from developer and restaurateur Marty Kotis. Arts philanthropist Betty Cone, DH Griffin Companies executive Melody G. London, and Replacements Limited CEO Bob Page — an advocate for LGBTQ rights — have each contributed $500 to Johnson’s campaign.
Marikay Abuzuaiter, who is running for her fourth term, received $500 from Mona Abuzuaiter, a broker with Keller Williams Real Estate, and $300 from Brenda Bishop, a retired Greensboro police officer.
Fundraising totals for candidates Jodi Bennett-Bradshaw, James Ingram, MA Bakie, Irving Allen and Lindy Perry-Garnette fall within a range from $289 to $4,029, while Dianne Bellamy-Small, Tijuana Hayes, Sylvine Hill and Andy Nelson have reported no fundraising.
Tammi Thurm’s contributors represent an array of professions, from law and medicine to finance and publishing. The largest infusion of cash comes from the candidate and her husband, with a combined $3,834. Other top contributors include Jack Heller ($2,500), a professor; Ellen Goldenberg ($1,785), nonprofit consultant Susan Simmons ($1,690) and OB-GYN Dr. Howard Mezer ($1,450).
Thurm has received a total of $1,200 from employees of Hagan, Barrett & Langley, the law firm where she works. The donations include $250 from Charles Hagan, a founding partner of the law firm who is the husband of former Democratic US Sen. Kay Hagan.
Tony Wilkins, the only Republican currently serving on city council, has held the District 5 seat since he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Trudy Wade, who was elected to the state Senate in 2012. Wilkins’ largest contribution ($3,500) comes from David Kuratnick. Wilkins received a $1,000 check from Jon Long, the president of Hilco Transport. The company previously held the contract to transport Greensboro’s solid waste to a landfill in Montgomery County, a hot-button issue under the tenure of Wilkins’ predecessor, Trudy Wade. Wilkins also received $500 contributions from Doug Jones, owner of Fishers Grill, Charles Milam of Qualitech, developer Michael Murray, and Harold Proctor and Larry Proctor, two brothers active in Republican politics.
Sal Leone and Tanner Lucas, who have also filed for the District 5, have reported no fundraising.
No one’s raised more than Nancy Hoffmann, who capped her career in the textile and home furnishings industry with a position with the executive search firm Reffett Associates. Hoffmann’s $61,830 fundraising total was built primarily on donations of $250 or $100 from people from every professional background imaginable. Hoffmann herself is the top donor to her campaign, with $2,222, followed by $1,250 from banking and insurance specialist Kenneth D. Miller. Hoffmann’s campaign is anchored by $1,000 contributions from developers Marty Kotis, Dawn Chaney, Frank Auman, John Lomax and Barry Siegal; engineer Charles Truby; lawyer Reid Phillips; retired Cone Health executive Tim Rice; dentist Dr. Mark Hyman; Sylvia G. Berkelhammer; Nancy Brenner; Oliver Morris Lloyd; Edward B. Krusch; Gail LeBauer; Catherine Levinson; Kathy Manning; Sylvia Samet and Joyce R. Shuman.
The largest infusion of cash into challenger Gary Kenton’s campaign comes from a $2,000 loan from the candidate himself. Other contributors include Donna Kenton ($500), Molly Mullin ($250), an Apple Store employee; and Katherine Troxler ($200) of Elon University.
Andrew Belford, the third candidate in the race, has reported no contributions.
Justin Outling, a lawyer with Brooks Pierce law firm who won his first term to city council in 2015 after being appointed to replace Zack Matheny as the District 3 representative, is the second most lucrative fundraiser, with $46,600. Roughly a quarter of the money — $19,425 — raised by Outling’s campaign comes from other lawyers employed by Brooks Pierce, mostly in Greensboro, but also in the firm’s offices in Raleigh. Outling’s $1,000 club includes Brooks Pierce lawyers Jeffrey Oleynik and James T. Williams; developer Frank Auman; Bob Page, the CEO of Replacements Limited; lawyer Carolyn Woodruff; and Sarah S. House.
Craig Martin, Outling’s opponent, lists his largest contribution as $1,100 from Teresa Martin of Eden.
Antuan Marsh, the other candidate in the race, has reported no fundraising.
Incumbent Nancy Vaughan’s relatively modest fundraising includes ample assistance from family members, including $1,200 from Florence Barakat, the mayor’s mother. Filling out the second tier of Vaughan’s donor base is $1,000 donations from Replacements Limited CEO Bob Page; developer Frank Auman; Our State publisher Bernie Mann; and Anne Hummel.
The cornerstone of Diane Moffett’s campaign is a $5,132 loan from the candidate herself, but she’s also received $1,000 contributions from Vivian Givens, Jacqueline Wagner and Paul Wagner.
Conservative candidate John Brown is also the primary funder of his own campaign. His 35-day report indicates that he’s contributed a total of $7,239 to his campaign through an accumulation of expenditures for things like car magnets, bumper stickers, postcards and fliers. Under North Carolina election law, candidates and their spouses are allowed to make unlimited contributions to their campaigns. Brown’s largest outside donations include a $1,000 contribution from Eleanor Dillard and $500 from the Greater Greensboro Republican Women’s Club.
Districts 1 and 2
Sharon Hightower, who has held the District 1 seat since 2013, leads fundraising with $34, while her two challengers — Devin King and Paula Ritter-Lipscomb — have reported no fundraising.
In District 2, Goldie Wells — who was recently appointed to fill Jamal Fox’s unexpired term and who has previously held the seat — leads fundraising in her race, with $2,645. Opponents Jim Kee, also a former District 2 representative, and CJ Brinson trail, with $1,600 and $730, respectively.
This story has been amended to incorporate additional information. Due to oversight, the original report did not include contributions from organizational reports for the campaigns of Tammi Thurm and Gary Kenton and misreported total fundraising by Mike Barber. We regret the errors.