Money matters in elections

Money matters in elections
(File photo)

What matters to you when you cast your vote in a local election? Does how much money a candidate raises and where it comes from factor into your decision? Which is more important to you?

Donations are one indication of the level of support a candidate has in the community. A candidate with hundreds of donors would seem to have a wider base of support than one who raises money from a handful of large donors. Donors can also provide a window into the priorities of a candidate.

Our story, “First quarter fundraising reports released,” is full of interesting details about the three mayoral candidates in particular.

Are you more impressed that Councilor Alyia Gaskins raised $103,113 this quarter, considerably more than Vice Mayor Amy Jackson or former developer Steven Peterson? Or are you more concerned that over half of Gaskins’ total – $54,318 – came from three regional labor unions and one couple with ties to a development behemoth?

Are you more impressed that Jackson’s campaign seems truly grassroots – her 220 donors in the first quarter gave an average of $158 – with many small contributors? Or are you more concerned that Alexandria’s contingent of self-described slower-growth advocates didn’t step up to the plate and support their complaints with cash?

Are you more impressed that Peterson raised $44,700 in just over a month as a candidate? Or are you more concerned that $40,000 of that total came from himself and one neighbor, and that he only had contributions from 11 other people?

There are many insights to be gained about candidates from browsing through their donor lists, and we are lucky to have the Virginia Public Access Project, which can be searched at, to help shine a light on political donations in the Old Dominion.

“How much” definitely matters in politics – and so does “where.”