July 25, 2013


$32K raised in city judge race

Third candidate late with finance filing had her info posted today

Staff Reporter

The three candidates for City Court judge have raised a total of about $32,000 in campaign funds in what should be a hotly contested primary, according to campaign finance records.
Ron Walsh and Robert “Mike” Shafer reported their finances by the state Board of Elections’ July 15 deadline. Absent was the same information for Elizabeth Burns, who is also running in the three-way race for the Democratic nomination.
Thomas Brown, the Democratic election commissioner for Cortland County, said there is no penalty for filing the information late. It is generally a clerical issue, said Brown, and is quickly resolved.
Burns said by phone this morning that the information had been submitted and it was posted late this morning on the state Board of Elections website.
Burns raised over half of the $32,000 total, with contributions of $16,081. She also outspent Walsh and Shafer, with $6,187.64. Of that total, Burns has donated $5,500 of her own money. Due to deadline restrictions, further review of Burns spending habits and contributors could not be completed.
Walsh, a former four-term mayor and county legislator, has contributed $1,500 of his own money to his campaign. This totals a third of his total contributions of $4,500. Walsh, who had an opening balance of $6,524.76, had total expenses of $2,250.95. This leaves Walsh with $8,773.81 as the Sept. 10 primary approaches.
Shafer started the campaign with no opening balance but has quickly made up for it, raising $11,360 in contributions. He’s also outspent Walsh considerably, with expenses reaching nearly $6,000. It’s left Shafer with less money, $5,379.82, than Walsh but Shafer has not made any personal contributions to his campaign for the July Periodic Report.
Shafer’s family has made significant contributions, however, totaling $1,700. Both candidates have received the financial support of various local figures in the Democratic Party.
Walsh has received contributions from Mayor Brian Tobin, John Reagan of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and Joseph McMahon of the city Planning Commission.
Shafer has also seen funds come in from two members of the Planning Commission, Jo Schaffer and Jeff Gebhardt, as well as 7th Ward Alderman Linda Ferguson. Other Shafer supporters have included James Dempsey, the director of the Cortland County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and Mike Dexter, chair of the city Landscape and Design Committee.
While the majority of donations have come from Cortland for both candidates, outside connections are apparent as well.
Walsh is a Cortland native but worked for a time in Syracuse, reflected in the campaign donations from law firms and lawyers in that area, including Blitman & King, LLC.
Shafer lived in Tully before moving to Cortland when his firm, Riehlman, Shafer and Shafer, opened an office here in 1988. A number of Tully residents have given their support to Shafer, including four attorneys from his law firm.
The candidates focused the majority of their spending on fundraising, with $1,663.44 for Shafer and $1,807.41 for Walsh. Campaign literature was another expense of note, though Walsh spent considerably more, $1,114.29, than Shafer did, with $474.00.
The rest of Shafer’s expenses were primarily tied up in campaign mailings, as well as postage costs and bank fees.
Walsh and Shafer’s firms are both on Chruch Street, only two doors down from one another.
Shafer has served as a trial attorney for over 30 years and been a partner in his firm since 1983. Burns left her Cortland law practice in 2011 to serve as a court attorney referee, a state-level position. Walsh did not complete his law degree until 1999, when he was 40 years old and operates a private practice.


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