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ELEC posted Montclair candidates’ financial reports.
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
winters@montclairlocal.news

While mayoral candidate Sean Spiller has raised $36,835, his opponent, Renée Baskerville, has raised $4,500. 

Spiller’s team, Montclair 2020 Progress in Action, has raised more than $50,400 for its campaign. Baskerville’s team, Your Voice Montclair, reported no contributions, while team members reported donations to their individual campaigns totaling $45,100.

Independent candidate Carmel Loughman, who is running for council at-large, raised $8,360, according to filings with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC). 

Pre-election reporting by the candidates was due to ELEC on April 13 for the May 12 election. Candidates who did not raise more than $5,100 are not required to file a report, but are required to disclose the names of individual contributors who gave more than $300. Joint committees or teams with three or more members — which includes the slates led by Baskerville and Spiller — have a $14,000 threshold for complete disclosure, but also must disclose names of contributors above the individual threshold. 

Contributions by individuals are limited to $2,600 per candidate and $7,200 per committee. Political action committees (PACs) are limited to $8,200 per candidate.

Candidates were required to file another report on May 1; those filings were not available by press time. Candidates therefore could have raised more funds than what is being reported by both the ELEC website, www.elec.nj.gov, which is available to the public, and by Montclair Local.

Spiller’s “Montclair 2020 Progress in Action” joint committee team includes current council members Bob Russo (at-large), Bill Hurlock (First Ward), and Robin Schlager (Second Ward), as well as at-large candidate Roger Terry and Third Ward candidate Lori Price Abrams. 

Spiller, for his mayoral campaign alone, raised a total of $36,835, according to his filing. 

Top contributors, in percentage of the total raised and amount, were the Community for Academic Excellence (20.8 percent, $8,000), the New Jersey Education Association PAC (18.8 percent, $7,900), Marie Blistan ($2,600, 6.5 percent), and Robert Blistan ($2,500, 6.3 percent). 

Others who contributed $1,500 or less include Marcia Marley (3.8 percent); Schaer for Assembly (2.8 percent); the NJ Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (2.5 percent); Michael Duhaime (2.5 percent); the Passaic County Education Association PAC (2.5 percent); and Steven Plofker (1.88 percent).

Community for Academic Excellence is a Wayne-based union political action committee; Spiller is a science teacher with the Wayne School District. Blistan is the president of the NJEA, the state teacher’s union; Spiller is vice president of the organization. Marley is president of BlueWaveNJ, Duhaime is a Republican political strategist, and Plofker is a local developer.

For the Montclair 2020 slate, Spiller’s team reported a total of $50,400 in contributions. The top contributor was NJEA PAC, giving 81 percent of the total raised, $41,000. Other contributors were running mates Bob Russo, $3,000, Lori Price Abrams, $1,000, Bill Hurlock, $800, and Roger Terry, $500. Princeton Health Analytics contributed $2,600. 

Terry, Schlager and Price Abrams also filed under Montclair 2020, while Russo and Hurlock each filed their own reports. 

Russo reported a total of $7,953, with $2,919 being transferred from previous campaigns. He did not disclose any contributions over $300. Hurlock raised $4,500, with $2,000 coming from William Hurlock Jr., and $2,500 from William Lenchinsky of Sigma Stretch Film.

Fourth Ward Councilor and mayoral candidate Renee Baskerville filed an ELEC report disclosing $4,500 in contributions from Lezli Baskerville. 

Her campaign committee team, Your Voice Montclair, which includes at-large council candidates Peter Yacobellis and James Cotter, First Ward candidate John Hearn, Second Ward candidate Christina Thomas, Third Ward candidate Marguerite Joralemon, and Fourth Ward candidate David Cummings, filed a report stating they did not raise more than the $14,000 threshold.

Yacobellis disclosed his final filing (still not posted on ELEC) to Montclair Local, listing a total of $28,398 in contributions. They include funds from a psychologist from New York, a homemaker from New York, Deer Oaks Mental Health Association of Texas, an Amicus executive from Asbury Park, a Mercury director from Washington, D.C., a marketing executive from Fairmont Hotels in New York, a real estate executive from Virginia, and Maloney for Congress from Los Angeles. 

Cotter said he was filing a final report for the May 1 deadline that listed raising around $5,000 from family and friends. 

Hearn also filed a report on May 1, reporting $6,112 in total receipts. He told Montclair Local donations were made by “35 friends and neighbors, unassociated with any kind of special interest group or political organization.”

As of the April 13 filing, the following Your Voice candidates had filed reports with contributions to their own campaigns: Thomas contributed $550, Joralemon $2,000, and Cummings $3,040.

Planning board member Loughman is running independently for one of the two at-large council spots. She raised $8,360 from donors and contributed $5,000 to her own campaign. Among the donors were Kathleen Bennett and Elizabeth Stoeffel of Montclair, Ivan Loughman-Pawelko of Jersey City, and Maureen McCarthy of Pompton Plains.

Established in 1973, ELEC monitors the campaign financing of all elections in the state. All candidates and campaign organizations are required to file contribution and expenditure reports with the commission. 

The commission’s online postings have been lagging due to commission workers having to work from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The contribution postings include the 2020 election cycle and aggregates from previous campaigns as well. 

Criticism has surrounded Spiller over potential conflicts of interest between his role in the state’s largest teachers union and the Montclair Board of Education and Board of School Estimate. 

If elected mayor, Spiller would appoint members to the BOE, which makes decisions on policy, budgets, and collective-bargaining agreements. In 2016 when Spiller was serving on BoSE, a Superior Court judge ruled that his roles with the NJEA and BoSE violated common-law conflict of interest and Montclair’s ethics code.

Spiller told Montclair Local that if elected he would appoint a designee to serve in his place on the BoSE, as he understands the law allows. In addition, he said he would appoint independent BOE members who share the goal of promoting the best possible education at the best value to taxpayers.