Early Rochester campaign finance reports indicate little spending
By Aug. 4, when the campaign finance reports for the primary election were due, the eight Rochester City Council candidates in the race had collected more than $13,740 in contributions and spent about $5,265.
Spending is likely to pick up now as their campaigns progress toward the general election on Nov. 6, and that will be reflected in the next mandatory reports, due Oct. 29 — 10 days before the general election.
Council president seat
For the council president seat, the campaigns for candidates Jan Throndson and former council president Dennis Hanson, had collected $700 and $2,100, respectively, as of Aug. 3. Throndson's report indicates a single donation of $500 from Richard Hawkins, of Rochester.
The report for Hanson, who died June 27 and whose name remains on the ballot, does not provide any itemization, indicating that of the $2,100, there were no individual contributions of more than $100. Candidates are required to disclose the names of single donors who give more than $100. The maximum individual contribution allowed for the city council president seat is $500.
Throndson's report says he had spent about $3,373 on his campaign as of Aug. 3. There are no expenditures listed on the Hanson report.
Ward 2 and contribution limits
Michael Pruett, who is running for the Ward 2 seat now held by Michael Wojcik, collected $1,245 in contributions, as of Aug. 1, and spent about $895. He did not itemize the donations.
As of Aug. 3, Wojcik had collected about $8,015, including about $386 in in-kind donations. His report indicates expenditures of approximately $629.
A mistake by the Rochester city clerk's office will require Wojcik to refund some of his individual campaign contributions exceeding $300. He lists four individual donations of $500, three donations of $250 each and two donations of $200 each in his campaign finance report.
Wojcik said he was told by City Clerk Judy Scherr that he could accept individual donations of up to $500, however, state law limits them to $300 unless the election is for a position representing a territory of more than 100,000 people. No city council ward has that many people.
Scherr said the Minnesota Secretary of State's office gave her erroneous information regarding the individual contribution limit, and she has since informed the candidates that they will have to pay back single donations exceeding $300.
Fourth Ward city council incumbent Mark Bilderback had collected $108 for his campaign as of Aug. 3, according to his campaign finance report. His report had no expenditures or itemization of donors.
Bilderback's challenger Gary Melin reported $1,475 in contributions to his campaign, including three single donations of more than $100, as of July 27. He provided the names and addresses of those donors but not the amounts they gave.
Melin spent about $319 on his campaign by July 27, according to his report.
Greg Opdahl, who is challenging Ward 6 incumbent Sandra Means, reported $100 in campaign contributions and an expenditure of $50 as of July 26. Means reported no contributions or expenditures as of Aug. 3