Mayoral challenger claims lead in contributions — but there’s a catch

DANBURY — Recent headlines about Mayor Mark Boughton and his election fundraising have focused on the Republican’s possible run for governor in 2018.

But a Democratic challenger would have you know there is also competition to raise money for the 2017 mayoral race. The mayoral challenger, Al Almeida, would have you believe that he is winning that competition.

Well, yes and no.

Almeida released a statement last week saying he had raised more money than Boughton from April 1 through June 30 — a statement that is only true if individual contributions are counted. Almeida collected $7,100 in contributions from individuals, compared to Boughton’s $6,000, according to campaign finance disclosure statements filed with the city clerk’s office.

However, Boughton raised an additional $5,500 from committees, including the New England Regional Council of Carpenters — and $750 from a fundraiser, records show. Boughton also had $12,000 on hand before the reporting period started, giving him a total of $25,000 at the end of June, compared to Almeida’s $7,600.

Almeida said his statement focused only on individual contributions because he believes they tell the most accurate story about voter support.

“It shows that (Boughton) is running from the outside,” said Almeida, a decorated combat veteran who has never held elected office. “He has a political agenda he is trying to move to become the next governor, but my contributions are in the smallest form from Danbury residents who are ready for a change.”

Boughton, who is serving a record 8th straight two-year term as mayor, has become one of Connecticut’s leading Republicans. Boughton has raised $160,000 in increments of $100 or less toward the goal of reaching $250,000, and qualifying for millions in public election funds. He says he will not decide about running for governor until after Danbury’s mayoral election in November.

“Al has to say something because he has to say something, but if I did decide to run for governor, it would only help the city, because I would be able to tell Danbury’s story,” Boughton said. “We have some of the lowest taxes, and the lowest unemployment rate, and we are a city that’s growing. By raising our profile, we will bring investment to the city.”

Almeida responded on Monday that Boughton had not done enough to build on the city’s state-leading growth. Almeida pointed to the Main Street corridor in downtown Danbury as a district that has not reached its cultural and commercial potential under Boughton.

“He has his vision to be governor, but I have not heard his vision about Danbury,” Almeida said. “For the last 10 years the downtown has been stuck in the status quo.”

Nonsense, Boughton said.

“No other previous administration has secured $150 million in private investment downtown, from the Kennedy Flats apartments to the new businesses that have started to come in,” said Boughton. “The evolution of a successful downtown takes time, and we are starting to see it happen.”

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