FAIRHAVEN – Incumbent Board of Health candidate Peter DeTerra has spent nearly $8,000 so far on his campaign, four times what challenger John Wethington has spent.
The two men will face off on Sept. 9 in a do-over of the April election that was ruled a tie and then thrown out by a Superior Court judge.
Of the $7,994 DeTerra has raised, more than half of it has come out of his own pocket, according to his campaign finance report.
The largest chunk of funds, more than $4,000, has been spent on post cards mailed to residents that detail his credentials and experience for the position.
He said Wednesday he believed voters in April did not fully understand the Board of Health’s role, and therefore did not know that he was qualified. DeTerra owns an excavating company in Fairhaven.
“I don’t think the people of Fairhaven were totally informed or educated on what the Board of Health actually does,” he said.
He added that Wethington’s day job as a nurse might have confused voters.
“We are a public health board and not a personal health board, so I wanted people to see how what I do makes sense with that,” he said.
DeTerra’s expenses make up more than half of the $11,712 that has been spent leading up to the September election by both candidates and two Political Action Committees involved in the race. Candidates and PACs will have to file an additional finance report 30 days after the election.
In total, more than $17,300 has been spent on both DeTerra-Wethington contests in April and September.
DeTerra said he hopes to recuperate some of the money he has personally spent in additional donations but doesn’t necessarily expect to.
“It’s worth it,” he said.
Notable donors to the DeTerra campaign include $100 from former selectman Brian Bowcock and $200 from Anwar Faisal, who owns Bella Vista Island.
For his part, Wethington has spent almost $2,000, most of which comes from individuals.
He said he was shocked to learn of DeTerra’s spending.
“I couldn’t raise $8,000 if my life depended on it, that’s a lot of money,” he said. “I never thought you could even spend that much money on a town election. It must be pretty important to him.”
He added, “I don’t think it matters how much you spend,” but also that, “I guess if it works (DeTerra) should beat me by 400 percent.”
Many of Wethington’s donations come from members of the turbine-opposition group WindWise, but the group itself has not donated any money. For the April election, Fairhaven WindWise donated $350 to the Wethington campaign.
He said WindWise did not offer to donate money to him, but that “I didn’t solicit it either.”
“I don’t want anything to do with it,” he said. “It just gives my opponents more talking points.”
Wethington did spend $500 of his donations on court filing fees relating to the April election. He said he paid his attorney fees out of his own pocket.
There are also two PACs involved in this election, one in favor of and one against the turbines.
Friends of Fairhaven, which is pro-turbine, raised $1,209 in total, with $885 coming from individual donations of under $50. The PAC has the highest number of donors, with 43 residents contributing to the committee.
PAC Treasurer Linda Therrien said most of those donations came from people buying T-shirts and bumper stickers to support the turbines.
Change Fairhaven, the PAC against the turbines, raised $1,075, mostly from members of WindWise. The donations have been spent on advertising. The PAC was forced to form this summer after receiving a letter from the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance. This month they submitted their financial report form one day late, after the Standard-Times inquired about the report. WindWise member Kenneth Pottel said the group had been “confused” about state filing requirements.
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