Polivka is big spender in fall campaign

Commissioner still has $49,000 in coffers

WARREN — The three-way race for Trumbull County commissioner is financially one-sided as incumbent Democrat Dan Polivka already is spending at least four times the amount of his closest rival for the seat and still has cash to burn.

He is being challenged by Republican Mary Williams and write-in candidate Todd Johnson.

Polivka started out with a war chest of more than $94,000 when he filed his most recent campaign finance report, which was released earlier this week.

The longtime politician has spent more than $45,000, leaving him with $49,053 to spend to finish the race if he chooses to empty his campaign’s bank account. However, it is unlikely Polivka will need to spend that kind of cash during the last days of campaigning.

Johnson, who left his employment at Trumbull County Jobs and Family Services to concentrate full time on the campaign, did not have any campaign cash when he entered the race but has been able to garner contributions of more than $8,000 and other income of $1,000 in order to compete.

Johnson spent $7,019, according to his campaign finance report. Johnson’s donations have been  primarily in the $50 to $100 range.

“We were absolutely a grassroot campaign,” Johnson said. “When we put the call out, we did not have any large fundraisers or donors. People have seen and believe in the messages we are delivering, so they have been donating.”

“This campaign has shown that you can mobilize people outside of the traditional political model,” he said. “We have been spending wisely and frugally. We spent on banners and signs, pins and buttons that we could put in the hands of people.”

Johnson also used social media as a way to get his messages across.

Williams raised just under $4,000 in campaign contributions and other income. She spent $2,904.06  on the race, according to her finance report filing.

“As a newcomer in running for office, I was told during your first campaign, it primarily would be self-funded,” she said. “Our campaign was grassroots with a capital G.”

While his colleague is raising and spending thousands of dollars in his race to remain a county commissioner, Mauro Cantalamessa, also a Democrat, had a smaller, but still significant, war chest of $45,238. At the beginning of the general election campaign, Cantalamessa already had $15,358 to work with and raised an additional $29,880 in contributions during this campaign.

The incumbent has spent $9,242 on this fall’s race, according to his report.

Cantalamessa received donations from various unions, such as the Western Reserve Building and Trade, $1,000; Operating Engineer Local 66, $2,500; the Sheet Metal Worker’s COPE fund, $2,000 and others.

Jim Priester, Cantalamessa’s Republican opponent, did not turn in a financial report to the Trumbull County Board of Elections.

Democrat Karen Infante Allen, who is seeking re-election as Trumbull County Clerk of Courts, spent more than twice the amount Republican opponent Deborah Bowles spent on the race and has thousands more dollars to invest, according to her campaign finance report.

Allen had $22,223.76 to invest in her campaign and spent $13,425, leaving her with $8,798 to finish the campaign. Bowles raised $5,219 and spent $5,110, leaving her with $108.87 to use over the final days of the campaign.

A first-time candidate, Bowles said she learned that it has been very difficult to raise money

“I learned you know a select few people who will contribute to a campaign,” Bowles said. “I’ve leaned a lot about what works and what does not.”

Bowles said the majority of the money she raised went for signs and literature.

The largest amount of  Allen’s cash was spent on campaign promotional material from Capitol Promotions Inc.

Financially, Trumbull County Recorder candidates Republican Debbie Roth and Democrat Tod Latell are running one of the tightest races in the county, with Roth raising $7,215 in contributions and Latell raising $6,965.

However, Latell already had $2,060 in his campaign’s bank account and received a $20,000 loan from his father, former Ohio Sen. Anthony Latell.

So far, Roth and Latell have spent about the same amount on the race, with Roth spending $7,104.92 and Latell spending $7,088.

Trumbull County Treasurer Sam Lamancusa, a Democrat, has spent $7,070.82 of the $8,418.82 he had available for his re-election campaign.

“I am blessed to be the endorsed Democrat and part of the money I raised was paid as a stipend by the party to support our ballot,” Lamancusa said. “This is a countywide election and we have a countywide ballot. It is part of a political life.”

“I am blessed to have had great attendance at my fundraiser that helped to support my campaign,” he said.

Syreana Harris, Lamancusa’s Republican opponent, did not turn in a campaign finance report.

Although longtime Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins and new sheriff candidate Paul Monroe are running unopposed, each are investing in campaigns to make sure Trumbull voters remember to vote for them in the general election.

Watkins has spent $2,521, which is all but $30 of his campaign’s war chest, and Monroe has spent $2,925.  Monroe has more than $1,400 available to spend on the campaign.

The Political Action Committee Citizens For A Safe Warren, which is leading a campaign to convince Warren voters to support a 0.5-percent income tax increase, received contributions of more than $15,050 and has spent $9,944 so far.

Covelli Enterprises, an active local business, provided a $4,000 contribution to the campaign; AVI Food Systems provided a $5,000 contribution; and Anthony Cafaro of the Cafaro Corp. provided another $2,000 contribution to help city officials convince voters to increase their taxes.

The Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters FOE 9700 provided $2,000 for the campaign.

Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said it was very important and gratifying that members of the business community understand the importance of public safety and how it affects their businesses.

“They have been very important financial supporters of this campaign,” Franklin said. “When I’m talking to residents and community groups, I always emphasize the importance of our businesses and what they have been doing for this city.”

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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