Candidate breaks record in Aspen mayor’s race
ASPEN, Colorado ” Mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks’ $39,724 in campaign fundraising is more than any candidate has raised in the history of Aspen’s May municipal elections.
Former mayoral candidate Tim Semrau holds the record for raising the most cash, but that’s counting both the May and June elections. In 2007, Semrau raised $30,000 leading up to the May election and another $17,700 before the runoff in June.
Comparatively, Semrau’s biggest opponent, Mayor Mick Ireland, raised $40,835 during both election cycles.
“[Marks] has broken the record for a single election,” said City Clerk Kathryn Koch.
In the 2001 race between Helen Klanderud and Rachel Richards for mayor, the candidates raised $21,234 and $33,500, respectively. That includes both the May and June elections.
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This year, there will be no runoff election in June because the majority of residents voted to participate in instant runoff voting.
Marks has raised more money than her three opponents combined. The closest was incumbent Ireland, who has raised $17,875.
In her latest contribution report, Marks reported that she raised $27,300 in a 15-day period, which averages to $1,820 a day.
But how will she spend the $29,575 remaining in the final days of the campaign?
According to election laws, Marks must either spend that money before the May 5 Election Day; donate it to a political party or charitable organization; keep it for another run for public office or return it to her contributors.
Marks said she hasn’t decided how she’ll spend the money but has several expenditures that haven’t been paid because the bills haven’t come in. She also said she’s got a few parties planned in the coming days, including a public gathering at the Belly Up on Friday.
If she’s elected, Marks said she is allowed to spend the contributions on issues like voter registration, education, post-secondary scholarships, mailings to constituents and expenses related to official duties as an elected official.
“There may be some opportunities here,” Marks said. “I haven’t decided how to spend the money … I don’t have any plans yet.”
Of the $9,058 she’s spent already, most of it has gone to newspaper advertising. Marks spent $800 at ZG Grill at the base of Highlands for an apres ski party April 25, and she spent $600 as a deposit for the Belly Up party.
Marks said she didn’t have a monetary goal, and she didn’t have a fundraising party.
“If I had one fundraiser I would have raised more … this is without effort,” she said, adding she used e-mail blasts and a website to generate financial support.
“It’s been word of mouth,” she said.
Marks said she’s put minimal effort into the fundraising aspect of her campaign.
“I think it sends a very strong message that people want to see change,” she said.
Many of those people are individuals whose primary residence is somewhere other than Aspen, and the majority of Marks’ contributors are people who don’t vote here.
“It doesn’t matter because I have to assume that these people have a vested interest here,” she said, adding many of her supporters are second-home owners and business owners. “What happens in council chambers has a roaring effect on the whole valley.”
The expected voter turnout for this year’s election is about 2,500 people. Given that assumption and Marks being elected into office, she would have spent nearly $16 a vote.