PROVINCETOWN — The May 11 select board election in Provincetown, in which Leslie Sandberg, Oriana Conklin, and incumbent Lise King all ran for one seat on the board, generated the highest fundraising totals since records have been kept online, according to a review of campaign finance filings.
The pre- and post-election filings together show that Sandberg, who won the election, raised $19,355 in direct and in-kind contributions. Conklin raised $7,537 and King raised $6,423.
The most recent comparable election in Provincetown was a three-way race for two seats on the board in June 2019. In that election, challenger Dave Abramson raised $2,500 and won a seat. Incumbent Cheryl Andrews raised only $200 and lost her seat on the board. John Golden ran in and won two elections that year — a special election in February and the regular election in June — raising a total of $3,305 for both races.
King said that, in Provincetown’s local races, “the typical amount you’d raise is a couple thousand.” Supporters are accustomed to the idea, she said, that “$50 or $100 is quite sufficient to express your support.”
The filings show that was mostly the case this year, too. The people who donated to candidates in earlier elections mostly gave at about the same levels this year.
What was different this year is that larger donations made up about half of the total raised. Eight people gave the maximum donation allowed, $1,000. Seven of those gifts were from donors who do not appear to have contributed to past Provincetown election campaigns. Six of the $1,000 donations went to Sandberg and two to Conklin.
“I’m not surprised I raised the most money,” said Sandberg. “This is what I do. I’ve been in politics, on and off campaigns, since 1984. Everyone who gave to me, for the most part, I knew.”
Records show the candidates used their campaign money on the usual expenses — mailers, internet ads, and graphic design. Both King and Conklin spent most of what they raised. Sandberg spent $15,220. She’s wouldn’t say what her plans were for about $4,000 still in the bank.
The prior record for select board campaign spending was Tom Donegan’s $4,226 in 2013. His campaign was entirely self-funded.
Conklin’s campaign pointed to national politics as the reason giving and spending were up. “We really didn’t actively fund-raise,” said Adrian Butterton, who served as treasurer for Conklin’s campaign. “I think there’s a culture of political giving and fundraising at the national level now, and people are accustomed to giving to political candidates in a way that they weren’t before.”
Did the money matter? Sandberg chalked up her win to what she called her “field campaign.”
“Every day for 10 weeks, I spent a minimum of three hours a day knocking on doors and talking to voters,” said Sandberg. “I think I knocked on north of 360 doors. That was exceedingly valuable in this race.”
Recent filings for select board races in Truro, Wellfleet, and Eastham show the upward trend in campaign fundraising has not extended beyond Provincetown. In Eastham, Jamie Demetri didn’t report any fundraising for her re-election.
In Wellfleet, incumbent Helen Miranda Wilson hasn’t reported any fundraising either. Incumbent Justina Carlson reported putting together $1,134 of her own money and a $216 in-kind donation of stamps. Challenger John Wolf has loaned himself $2,675 and raised $450 for his write-in campaign for Wellfleet Select Board.
In Truro, Kristen Reed has raised $925 for her re-election, and candidate John Dundas hasn’t reported any fundraising.