Campaign Oxford: Mayor Smith increases spending
by Patrick McCreless
Aug 11, 2012 | 4443 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Though Oxford Mayor Leon Smith has significantly surpassed his opponent Cristy Humphries in campaign spending, she still leads in total contributions.

According to the campaign finance reports filed Friday, Smith spent $18,303.74 in the past week — $2,031 more than he spent during the last two months of the campaign. More than $15,000 of the money went to Matrix LLC, a consultants and polling firm. The rest of the money was spent on radio advertising. And Smith, who has been mayor since 1984, has plenty left to spend — more than $68,000 mainly left over from previous campaigns.

Until last week, Humphries had been outspending Smith, the majority of which was for advertising. To date, however, Smith has outspent her by $11,055.87.

Still, Humphries has received about $11,814.21 more in contributions than Smith for the entire campaign.

Oxford’s other mayoral candidate, Russell Mullins, has only filed a waiver of report because his contributions and expenses have not yet reached the minimum $1,000 threshold.

Attempts to reach Smith for comment were unsuccessful.

While Humphries has received most of her contributions from area individuals and some businesses, most of Smith’s contributions have come from businesses, including $500 from the Taylor Corporation of Oxford and $500 from Birmingham engineering firm Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood. Taylor Corp. also donated $1,000 to Smith during his last election. Oxford has awarded various contracts to both companies over the years. An attempt to reach officials with Taylor Corp. was unsuccessful.

Smith is not the only candidate to receive money from those companies. Current Place 4 Councilman Chris Spurlin, who is running for re-election, reported on July 13 of receiving $1,000 from Tommy Taylor and $500 from Lance Taylor, who own and operate Taylor Corp. Spurlin also reported on July 27 of receiving $250 from Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood.

Attempts to reach Spurlin for comment were unsuccessful.

“I wouldn’t take any donations from anyone who does anything with the city whatsoever,” said Greg Thrower, Place 4 council candidate. “It’s not illegal, but I would never want there to be a question of why did I vote a certain way.”

Humphries said she also would likely not accept money from businesses that have had contracts with Oxford.

“I would be hesitant to take money from those that do business with the city because I think it would be a conflict of interest,” Humphries said. “I certainly would not call those businesses and ask for donations.”

While Smith and Spurlin are connected by donations from the same businesses, Humphries is connected to several other candidates with donations from area businessman Travis Skinner. To date Skinner, who owns Alabama Body Shop in Oxford, has donated a total of $3,000 to Humphries’ campaign. Skinner has also donated $500 apiece to Thrower and Mike Henderson, Place 3 council candidate.

“I think Oxford needs a change and Cristy Humphries is the change Oxford needs,” Skinner said of his donations. “She’s honest, hard-working, well-educated and has a burning desire to help people.”

Skinner said he wants new leadership that will focus more on obtaining high-paying jobs.

“We have a lot of fast food and minimum wage jobs and there is nothing wrong with that,” Skinner said. “But if we want to bring real economic development for the future then we need jobs that pay high salaries so more people can buy nice cars and bigger houses.”

Oxford has experienced significant growth in retail under Smith’s tenure, most recently with the opening of the Oxford Exchange and the construction of a Publix Super Market, which should be finished later this year. Still, some higher-paying manufacturing jobs have also located in Oxford while Smith has been in office, including the wood paneling manufacturer Kronospan and auto supplier Bridgewater Interiors.

“I very much like Cristy Humphries and I have no doubt she would be a terrific mayor … but I think Oxford is one of the best run cities in Alabama,” said Everett King of ERA King Real Estate, who has donated a total of $1,000 to Smith personally and through the real estate company. “If it’s not broken, then there is no need to fix it.”

But while most Oxford city council candidates have received donations from one source or another, the majority of them, including Place 2 candidate Charlotte Hubbard, are mainly funding themselves. Hubbard said she expected to mainly fund herself when she started running. However, that cost has not been as much as she first thought, she said.

“The major surprise to me has been how many friends have given me contributions,” Hubbard said. “I’ve had to put in less money than I thought.”
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