Fort Worth City Council members are all entering election season with a leg up on potential challengers.
Candidates raised a total of about $282,000 from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2022, according to campaign finance reports filed Jan. 18. Election day is May 6. Non-incumbent candidates filing to run in the May election were not required to submit campaign finance reports.
In the latest reporting period, Mayor Mattie Parker secured the most money from contributors, about $123,000. District 9’s Elizabeth Beck was a trailing second with about $52,000.
In cash on hand, council member Michael Crain will have over $204,000 going into the candidate filing period. Parker will enjoy the second largest war chest with over $156,000. She led fundraising by a wide margin during her first mayoral campaign in 2021. Crain and Parker have retained significantly more cash than their fellow council members.
Leonard Firestone, who represents District 7 but recently announced he is not running for the seat, raised the least in the reporting period — netting just $100. Firestone also used his cash on hand, about $50,000, to repay a personal loan he made to his campaign.
Major donors, average donations
Parker netted the highest average donation at $1,820. Her largest donors were Cheryl and Jerry Conatser, who own Conatser Construction Inc. Both Cheryl and Jerry donated $12,500.
Stephen Luskey, founder of Brazos Midstream, contributed $10,000 to Parker’s campaign. Walsh Ranches Limited Partnership also donated $10,000.
District 5 council member Gyna Bivens had the second highest average donation at $1,450. Her largest donation was $7,500, from Ken Newell. Newell’s occupation was not listed on the campaign finance form.
Carlos Flores, district 2, had an average donation of $1,380. His largest donation was from the Fort Worth Police Officers Association PAC, at $5,000.
Beck’s average donation was about $440, from 118 individual donations.
She received four $4,000 donations from four separate donors; Sasha Bass, the Fort Worth Firefighters Committee for Responsible Government, Daniel Smith and Matthew Vruggink. Smith is a sales agent for Champions, and Vruggink reported himself as self-employed on the campaign finance form.
District 3 council member Michael Crain had an average donation of $612, from 24 individual donations. His largest donation was from Gus Bates, who operates a financial services company and an insurance company, at $5,000.
The newest member to council, District 4’s Alan Blaylock, raised $9,500 during the reporting period. The majority of that money came from a single contribution — $5,000 from the Committee for Public Safety, which is a political action committee under the Fort Worth Police Officers Association.
Jared Williams, the District 6 council member, raised $13,195, with an average donation of $145. All but two of Williams donations were under $1,000; he received $5,000 from Janice Hawkins, who works in real estate, and $1,000 from the For The Children PAC.
District 8 council member Chris Nettles raised the least during the reporting period of any council members running for reelection this year, at $9,276. His largest donation was $3,500 from himself, followed by a $2,500 donation from retired resident Kathy Rockwell.
Parker also spent the most money over the past six months, about $60,000. The bulk of those expenditures went to political consulting firm Murphy Nasica. Parker paid the Austin-based consulting firm $55,000 for polling and consulting fees.
Williams spent about $20,000, including several donations to causes and political campaigns including Deborah Peoples, Roy C. Brooks and Crystal Gayden. Williams also donated to The Atatiana Project and the Fort Worth NewsGuild Strike Fund.
Beck spent a similar amount of campaign funds to Williams, about $18,000. She spent about $6,000 on event expenses and about $8,000 on fundraising. She also gave $250 to Deborah People’s campaign.
Crain spent the fifth most money, about $11,000. The money went toward a variety of campaign tools, such as supplies, emailing platforms, and storage.
The remaining council members spent less than $10,000.
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Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or via Twitter.