NEW HANOVER COUNTY — LeAnn Pierce far outpaced her competition in the first quarter of campaign financing, raising a whopping $67,482 since January to benefit her race for a seat on the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners. The Republican candidate was trailed not-so-closely behind by one of her party competitors, Joe Irrera, collecting $24,345.
Comparatively, Democrat Travis Robinson has committed to raising no more than $1,000 in the election cycle and therefore is not required to file campaign finance reports under North Carolina law. Current New Hanover County Chairwoman Julia Olson-Boseman — who has faced backlash for failing to report her campaign financials and pay fines — recorded spending just $27 of $5,000-plus in contributions during quarter one.
Pierce, the former mayor of Carolina Beach, has recorded $81,507 in finances total this election cycle. Her most generous donation so far in 2022 came from the CEO of PolyQuest, a plastics manufacturer; John Marinelli issued a $5,400 payment.
Tim Milam, CEO of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, was another strong supporter with a $3,000 gift. Pierce also secured $2,500 each from nonprofit executive Susie Sewell, Carolina Retreats owner Mike Harrington and developer D Logan of Logan Homes.
In the first quarter, Pierce disbursed $50,476 on operating expenses. Her highest expenses were billboards, spending $10,260 between Tedder Media Management and Lamar Advertising. Another $10,000 went to Full Rudder Creative for TV and radio ads.
Behind Pierce, Irrera has documented $48,140 in finances so far this election cycle. Almost all of his first-quarter earnings came from individual donors, with the exception of a $250 backing from city councilman Charlie Rivenbark’s election committee and $500 from former commissioner Woody White’s campaign.
Mike McCarley, founder of Carolina Marine Terminal, signed the largest check with $2,000 in the dollar box. Irrera also earned $1,000 each from Hank Estep, president of insurance group GriffinEstep, and attorney George Rountree.
Irrera spent $19,030 over the past four months, with $4,500 going toward social media.
Republican Tom Toby was right behind Irrera, raising close to $20,000 in the first quarter. He’s collected just over $21,000 throughout the entire election cycle.
Toby’s campaign finance report lists a number of $100 and $500 contributors and several $1,000 gifts, but his strongest financial proponent was Lara Logan of Logan Homes, who wrote a $5,600 check.
In the first quarter, the commissioner hopeful expended $13,488. Just over $400 of that was used to deck out a car with a custom election decal, and he paid Island Cruises $1,000 to rent a private charter for the “Tom Cruise,” his campaign event. He’s also spent $4,400 on billboard advertising and $2,928 on yard signs.
With $6,685 contributed personally, Harry Knight has tracked $7,179 in campaign finances during the four-month quarter. He had just five donors; the most willing, Jane and Scott Sullivan, both signed $500 checks.
So far in the election cycle, the Republican candidate has reported $8,625 total in funds.
The two incumbents in the race — Olson-Boseman and Rob Zapple — both reported the least amount of cash. Zapple, a Democrat, raised $4,830 in the first quarter with a $1,000 gift from Ken Dull, president of McKinley Building Corporation, and four $500 donations.
Zapple dropped $3,100 on operating expenses in the first quarter. In all during this election cycle, he’s reported having $12,104.
His colleague and fellow Democrat Olson-Boseman raised $5,250 and spent just $27.29 on office expenses, according to the disclosure report. Her biggest donor was Jason Thompson with a $1,500 contribution, but she also accepted $500 offerings from several local professionals. She’s left with $5,222 to spend through the rest of the election or, if unused, to give to charities or other political campaigns.