The 14-person at-large city council race saw $188,299 in campaign spending, according to reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
Former school board member Lilisa Mimms, who finished second, winning one of the three at-large seats, led the pack in spending. Her campaign spent $54,028, more than the other two winners – incumbent Maritza Davila and school board member Flavio Rivera — combined, according to her 20-day post-election report.
“You have to make sure you get your message out. You got to make sure you pay your bills. And you got to pay your workers”, said Mimms. “People have to know who you are.”
She was among a small number of candidates in the race to have a campaign headquarter. Her campaign also spent money to put up large number of billboards throughout the city.
Mimms was followed in spending by former councilman Aslon Goow. He spent $34,045 in the race.
Davila, who was the highest vote-getter in the at-large race, spent $23,806, according to her 20-day post-election report received by the state last Friday. Her report was disclosed by the state on Monday morning.
Rivera said his campaign spent approximately $21,000 in the race. He has yet to file the required 20-day post-election report. His 29-day pre-election report showed $13,558 in spending. His campaign has submitted documents to the state that had to be revised.
“They are getting picky,” said Rivera. He said the state wanted the finance reports to include Facebook’s office address.
Rivera’s campaign ran ads through the social media platform.
The candidate to spend the least amount of money in the race was former school board member Juan “Mitch” Santiago. He reported spending just $2,640 in the race in his 11-day pre-election report.
Santiago hasn’t filed the 20-day post-election report.
Santiago said he is not sure whether he has to file other documents with the state considering his minuscule campaign expenditure. The ubiquitous signs that had his name was covered by former school board member Pedro Rodriguez’s mayoral campaign.
Rodriguez had a three-person slate. His signs listed three names – Rodriguez, Santiago, and Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman.
Akhtaruzzaman hasn’t filed any of the three required campaign finance reports. He said he spent approximately $25,000 in the race. His campaign reported spending $14,934 in an April report.
“Right after election came Ramadan,” said Akhtaruzzaman when asked why his campaign hasn’t filed the required reports. “It’s not an excuse.”
Akhtaruzzaman said he will file the reports at the end of the week.
Goow questioned some of the numbers reported by the campaigns. He thinks the expenditure figures reported to the state are inaccurate.
“Absolutely. It’s so obvious,” said Goow, a former three-term councilman, when asked if he thought the figures were deceptive. “They are beating the system.”
Other candidates’ expenditures are below:
- Former councilman Kenneth McDaniel spent $20,900
- Pastor Douglas Maven spent $16,075
- Activist Casey Melvin spent $8,313.
Fatima Bell, Angela Muhammad, Davon Roberts, and Zellie Thomas spent under $5,100, according to their filings with the state.
Bernard Jones did not file any reports with the state.
“I’ll file it. Thanks for reminding me,” said Jones on Monday morning. He said he raised $3,000 in the race.
Jones did not have a total expenditure figure on hand.
The winners from the at-large race – Mimms, Davila, and Rivera – will be sworn-in on Jul. 1. Each will serve on the council for the next four years.
This report was updated at 2:33 p.m.