Williamsburg’s two newest councilmen spent the most money on their campaigns out of five candidates, according to final campaign finance reports filed last month.
Doug Pons and Scott Foster spent the most to garner votes, but also received the most in donations, enabling them to spend more on advertising, special events and printed materials. Out of a total 2,854 ballots, Foster received 1,558 votes and Pons received 818 votes.
Candidate Sean Driscoll lost a seat on the council by 17 votes, receiving a total of 801 votes. Incumbent Bobby Braxton received 761 votes and candidate David Dafashy finished last with 733 votes. Here’s how the donations and spending broke down, arranged by candidate:
Pons, a native hotelier who served on the Planning Commission, received $18,392 in campaign funds from donors. His campaign relied on friends in the tourism industry, who donated generously to the cause. Some of his biggest donors included the Williamsburg Hotel Motel Association, which contributed $6,500 to the campaign, Marriott International, PCT LLC property management and Canavos Holdings. He also received a $250 donation from Del. Brenda Pogge’s campaign.
Pons’ campaign spent $17,761.99. The majority of the campaign funds went toward costs associated with advertising. In the April 27 to June 11 reporting period, the campaign paid Knockouts Printing more than $4,500 to print materials. The campaign also spent more than $5,000 on advertising in The Virginia Gazette, more than any other candidate. Pons also paid Virginia Beach resident Gerry Scimeca, a former communications director at the Republican Party of Virginia, $1,500 for political consulting advice.
Scott Foster, a recent graduate of the College of William and Mary, raised $16,414.49 for his campaign, which spent $16,280.40. His funding came from a mix of college students and professors and family friends in his hometown of Monterey. His largest donors were Students for a Better Williamsburg, a student political action committee, which donated $1,693, and Glenn Gormley, owner of The Green Leafe restaurant near campus and in New Town, who donated $1,200.
The majority of the Foster campaign’s budget was spent on advertising and printing materials, but also on event supplies for campus barbecues and food for the many student volunteers. As the youngest candidate, Foster utilized new media to reach voters, so he also shelled out funds for e-mail database maintenance, a mass text message service and fees for Paypal’s online contribution platform. His media advertising budget was split between $2,852 for the Virginia Gazette, $878.85 for The Flat Hat and $500 for the Virginia Informer.
Foster also loaned his campaign $2,122.25. The last finance report, dated June 15, showed the campaign still owed him $2,000.
Driscoll, a financial advisor who sits on the Planning Commission, raised $10,373 and spent all of the money, donating the final dollars to the Williamsburg Regional Library. Donors included the Peninsula Housing and Builders Association ($500) and the Realtors PAC of Virginia ($1,000), along with friends and family.
The Driscoll campaign’s major expenses were for advertising costs, including $2,800 to Halos Marketing for the development of a website and Facebook page. The campaign spent almost $3,000 to advertise in The Virginia Gazette and $250 on WYDaily. Oller Creative received $500 to design a political ad.
Incumbent councilman Bobby Braxton raised $8,740 and spent $8,670 on his campaign. His biggest donor was the Realtors PAC of Virginia, which gave $1,000 to the campaign. His biggest expense was for advertising and website design; the campaign paid more than $7,000 for ad design and placement by Oller Studios. He also lent his campaign $1,126.
Dafashy, a physician at The College of William and Mary Student Health Center, raised $3,628.75 and spent almost all of the money. His primary donors were family and friends, and his largest expense was printing signs ($1,053) and advertising in The Virginia Gazette ($1,404).