Hess out in front with fundraising

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NAUGATUCK — Democrat N. Warren “Pete” Hess is leading the way in campaign fundraising among the four mayoral candidates.

Hess, a Democrat and local attorney, had raised $12,530 through June 30. That money was contributed before he held a major fundraiser last week that was expected to bring in several thousands of dollars to the campaign. As of June 30, the campaign had $8,119 in hand.

“I think it says that the voters and the contributors realize that I’m the most qualified candidate to effectuate growth in Naugatuck,” he said. “And the voters know that my experience is in actually making real estate transactions work, not just going to meetings and talking about it.”

Democrats will meet July 21 to officially endorse Hess, the only Democrat who has expressed interest in seeking the party’s nomination. He has strong support from the Democratic Town Committee and party leaders and is expected to be endorsed unanimously. There are three Republicans seeking the party’s nomination and they will caucus July 22 to choose their candidate.

Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi, a Republican who entered the race late, raised $3,105 and had $1,606 left as of June 30.

“We haven’t fundraised yet; that is just from my announcement,” she said. “Quite frankly, the focus was getting the campaign off the ground and a platform rolled out, and we’re looking forward to two upcoming fundraisers within the near future. Money definitely is an important part of running a campaign, but I think it’s more important to be out there and getting your message out.”

Burgess Alexander Olbrys, a Republican, has raised $1,489 and had $570 left as of June 30.

“I think it’s pretty good, to be honest,” he said. “My campaign had 100 people at our opening event and at our John’s Pizza event we had 60 to 70 people. So we’re bringing people in.”

As of June 30, Republican Seth Bronko raised $1,080 at his campaign kickoff and paid a $1.78 fee to collect an electronic donation. He said his fundraising will begin immediately following the caucus.

“If I’m fortunate enough to receive the nomination, I will begin fundraising aggressively,” he said. “I believe a campaign is about a competition of ideas, not your bank account. I’ll do my best to demonstrate to the voters why I believe I’m the candidate that will get Naugatuck back in business.”

Republican Town Committee Chairwoman Kim Kiernan said she’s confident that whoever wins the nomination “will be fully funded so that we can wage a strong campaign for the future of Naugatuck.”

Democratic Town Committee Chairman M. Leonard Caine III believes money is helpful in running a campaign and that about $50,000 should be enough to wage a successful campaign. Still, he said, it is not the only way to gain votes.

“Things have clearly changed with the Internet and social networking,” he said. “Is money helpful? Yes. But you do have the availability to relay the message with dramatically less cost.”