Breckenridge Town Council candidates drop mad money on 2010 election
BRECKENRIDGE – Many thousands of dollars were poured into campaigns for Breckenridge Town Council in April – a tremendous increase from 2008. “It’s really amazing for a community this size,” said Councilwoman Jen McAtamney, who spent $154 and was the only incumbent to be re-elected. The race didn’t draw many differences of opinion on the issues, and McAtamney said that perhaps the high spending was a result of candidates trying to distinguish themselves from one another. The other two seats went to Mike Dudick, who spent $7,900 and Mark Burke, who spent $5,899. No candidates in the 2008 election surpassed $1,000 in spending, according to Town of Breckenridge records. Dudick said he was overcharged on campaign signs and intends to have the final expenditure amount read roughly $3,500. He said this year was certainly more competitive than previous years. “A lot of people got very enthusiastic about the election,” he said. “Small-town Breckenridge politics and campaigning for office has become more large-scale.”He said he’s “not the one to judge” whether the increased competition is good or bad, but he expects high spending will prove to be a continuing trend in 2012. Dudick paid all expenditures out of his own pocket, rejecting offers for contributions. “I didn’t feel like a prominent real-estate developer should be asking for small contributions from citizens,” he said. Burke, the top vote-getter, started the race with just under $1,800 – all from his own pocket. He said that as unsolicited contributions increased, his campaign grew. “I had to get my name out there. I took it very seriously. This was a very serious election,” he said, adding that he wasn’t part of any special groups and didn’t have the backing of current or former council members. “As the campaign started going, people really saw some excitement.”Burke, a full-time resident of about six years, credits much of his win to running as more of an outsider. “I didn’t have any stakes in the game,” he said. “Maybe the fact that I wasn’t entrenched here for 20 or 30 years actually benefited (the campaign).”He listed contributions, in amounts as high as $500, from about 22 people. Ben Brewer had the second-most listed contributors, at about 17, though Brewer’s average contribution was lower than Burke’s. Candidates were required to list contributors for amounts exceeding $19.99. The candidates put most of their expenditures toward newspaper advertising, signs and postage. Rodney Allen spent about $1,004 on personalized M&M’s, according to town records. Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron, who successfully retained his seat in 2008, was the only candidate to spend no money in either of the last two council elections. “In a local campaign, someone that has no money – a waiter or a bartender – they shouldn’t be excluded because they can’t afford it,” he said. “I didn’t want to take contributions for people because I was afraid I’d have to be beholden.”Bergeron, a familiar face among local media, said name recognition can help or hurt a campaign. A total of 814 voters participated in the 2010 election, with the seats going to Burke (484 votes), Dudick (326 votes) and McAtamney (315 votes). Town council members receive compensation of $800 per month, or $9,600 per year. The mayor receives $14,400 per year. All receive a $500 per year credit for access to town-owned recreation facilities. Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or email@example.com.
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