Candidate Kelly Leads in Campaign Contributions, Majority From Real Estate, Business Interests
Five of the eight candidates running for election to the West U City Council have raised more than $12,000 in campaign contributions and spent more than $8,500, in their bids for a two-year term based on the April 9 Campaign Finance Reports.
Three of the candidates Steven Segal, Sonny Brandtner and Phil Snyder, were not required to file campaign finance reports since they opted, in advance, not to accept total contributions of more than $500 or spend more than $500.
Susan Sample, who is running unopposed in her campaign for Mayor, also was not required to file a report.
In campaign finance reports filed 30 days before the election, the leading money-raiser so far has been council candidate and former West U Mayor Bob Kelly. Kelly’s campaign finance report shows that he has raised $6,980 from 13 contributors, including two contributions totalling $2,000 from West U real estate investor Jim Reid, and two contributions totalling $1,900 from an entity called “Goode Company Management.” InstantNewsWestU.com could not determine whether Goode Company Management is a legal entity registered anywhere in the state of Texas.
Kelly said: “I no longer have the check. The name on the stub is Goode Company Management.”
State law prohibits corporations and labor unions from making campaign contributions.
According to the Texas Ethics Commission: “As a general rule, a political committee may not accept political contributions from corporations or labor organizations.”
Goode Cook, Inc., which operates three restaurants that are adjacent to West University Place, has had a long-standing, $6,000 per month, lease with the city for a parking lot on a part of the city-owned property on Dincans St., which was formerly the city’s RecyclExpress. The recycling center was closed last year, and the city has been considering relocating the Public Works maintenance facility to that property. The city council renewed the lease with the company about a year ago, on May 12, 2014, but can be terminated by the city in 2016.
Kelly also has a $500 contribution from Robert Duncan, a Houston resident, who is chairman of Transwestern, a real estate organization primarily involved in real estate investment and development.
Another former West U Mayor, Burt Ballanfant, who is also running for council, followed Kelly, with a total of $2,980 in contributions from 13 total contributors.
Ballanfant’s two biggest contributors, Ralph Hull and Sue Jean White, both gave him $500 campaign donations.
Candidate Brennan Reilly reported total contributions of $550, with a $500 contribution from West U resident David Kuykendall.
Mardi Turner reported no contributions to her campaign, but listed an outstanding loan of $1,500.
Candidate Bruce Beneke raised a total of $600 in contributions, as well as an outstanding loan of $1,300. Beneke, a retired engineer who is a deacon at West University Baptist Church, received a $500 campaign contribution from outgoing councilman Ed Heathcott, another church deacon. Heathcott appears to be the only member of the council to make a contribution to a candidate in the May 9 municipal election.
Beneke also received $100 from West U resident Judy Faulkner.
Most of the candidates’ expenses were related to printing costs for yard signs, door hangers, or campaign brochures. Advertising was another big expense for some candidates; Kelly spent $1,895 on ads in two area magazines; while Beneke spent $375 on one magazine advertisement.