Candidates raise campaign funds

Jens Krogstad

A thousand dollars can buy a lot of things.

And if history is any indication, that kind of money could help win the upcoming undergraduate student body presidential election.

Last year, Minnesota Student Association President Eric Dyer spent approximately $1,100 on his campaign.

Two years before, Dyer teamed with presidential candidate Josh Colburn and spent approximately $600 to win.

Typical campaign costs include T-shirts, buttons, poster board and fliers. Last year for Dyer, his campaign included a neon green car.

“The car was donated and broke down during the campaign. It now rests at the impound lot,” Dyer said.

The All-Campus Elections Commission, a student-run organization charged with running campus elections, raised the spending limit this year for presidential elections to $2,500. Candidates could not exceed $1,500 last year.

Although that might seem like a lot of money to some students, Dyer said it is surprising how quickly small items add up.

“You’re spending money on posters one day and suddenly you realize you’re cutting into your lunch money for the next week,” he said.

At least one candidate this year said he wants to keep spending to a minimum.

Thomas Rupp said his campaign is prepared to spend less than $300.

Many of the candidates said they want to spend approximately $1,000, and most of the money will come out of their own pockets.

“Students appreciate it more when we’re not spending a lot, since we’re college students,” candidate Mike May said.

He said his campaign has spent money on T-shirts, business cards and a Web site.

Candidate Tom Zearley said spending excessive amounts of money might alienate student voters.

“We don’t want to spend a lot,” he said. “We’re average college students.”

Zearley said his campaign has not raised any money outside of donations from family and friends, while candidate Ashley Sierra said her campaign is reaching out to the student body.

“A lot of our resources are coming from other students,” she said. “(They give) pretty much whatever they can afford.”

Sierra said students are more willing to give money once they hear her platform.

Candidates agree that getting the issues out to voters is the top priority.

“Our campaign is based on student issues,” Sierra said.

Campaign financing in past years has been relatively free of conflict, said Twin Cities Student Unions associate director Denny Olsen, who advised campus elections last year.

He said the main conflicts arose when candidates were unsure of the rules.

There was confusion about when financial reports must be filed and what should count toward campaign expenditures.

Candidates were not sure if they should count donated goods and supplies toward their expenditures. Some also missed deadlines to file their expenditure reports, Olsen said.

Candidates must file weekly spending reports this year.