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Lisa Wheeler-Brown so far grossly outraising her City Council campaign opponents

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council candidate Lisa Wheeler-Brown is so far blowing away the competition for the District 7 race in terms of fundraising. The community activist has raised more than $24,000. The next closest opponent, Sheila Scott-Griffin, has only brought in $4,423.

Wheeler-Brown, a longtime advocate for safer neighborhoods in her South St. Pete district, has enjoyed numerous high-dollar contributions from prominent St. Pete figures, attorneys and groups.

Among the more than $10,000 in contributions reported during the second quarter from April 1 until the end of June, Wheeler-Brown drew buy-ins from St. Pete City Council member Karl Nurse. Nurse, who has publicly endorsed Wheeler-Brown, kicked in $100 for her campaign.

She also brought in maximum contributions of $1,000 from the Florida Voters Fund and developer Peter Leach. The Pinellas Stonewall PAC, a pro-LGBT group, donated $500 along with the Blue Skies Community real estate group, attorney Johnny Bardine and St. Pete resident Orlando Acosta.

Democratic campaign consultant Tom Alte gave two separate contributions this reporting period totaling $310. Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch cut a $100 check for Wheeler-Brown’s election. Attorneys John Siebert, Bruce Marger and Aubrey Dicus each contributed $200 while attorney Joe Saunders kicked in $250.

Wheeler-Brown spent a total of $3,994 this reporting period, bringing her total expenses to date to more than $14,000. She spent more than $1,500 on campaign consulting, more than $400 to local activist Kofi Hunt for field programs and $650 for event catering from Chief’s Creole Café.

Wheeler-Brown also forked over $160 for entry into the St. Pete Pride Parade.

Will Newton, widely considered Wheeler-Brown’s closest competition and leading the race in the latest St. Pete Polls Survey commissioned by SaintPetersblog, hasn’t wowed anyone with campaign finance numbers yet – he’s only raised $2,280 as of the last report – but sources close to his campaign hint that number may jump dramatically in the next report due Friday.

In the meantime, Newton’s contributions come from a $1,000 loan to himself, another $1,000 from the Flame fire fighters political committee and a $250 kick-in from St. Pete resident William Mott.

Newton has spent just $546 so far on election fees.

Scott-Griffin, who is so far trailing far behind Wheeler-Brown but ahead of the rest of the pack, has brought in nearly all of her contributions during the second quarter. Her largest contributions came from “school educator” Esther Berry and retired St. Pete resident Mike Mikurak.

Tea Party activist Barbara Haseldon also contributed $20 to Scott-Griffin’s campaign.

Scott-Griffin has spent $3,500 of that cash on things like printing, filing feels, clothing, signs and office supplies. She also paid out $500 for campaign consulting.

Pasadena Bear Creek Neighborhood Association president and codes compliance board chair Aaron Sharpe is running third in the fundraising mix with $3,655 in total contributions, $1,655 of it coming in during the second quarter.

Two of his neighbors, Jim Sines and Les Strauss, each kicked in $500. Another St. Pete resident, Tony Woodworth, donated $250 and R&B Tree Service cut a check to Sharpe’s campaign for $100.

Sharpe also received a $1,000 in-kind contribution from Studio Jeff Sharpe and listed a $1,000 self-loan.

Sharpe spent money signs and filing fees. He also spent $500 for his website developed my MityMo.

Trailing dead last in fundraising is Elvert Lewis Stephens. He has raised little more than the fees required to run for office. Of his total $605 contributions, $325 of it was a loan from himself. Other contributions are not listed on his treasurer’s report.

Stephens paid out $320 to Chief’s Creole Café for a campaign fundraiser that clearly didn’t go well. He also paid out $50 to an individual named Quiara Scott for a website.

Based on documents filed with the City Clerk’s office, Stephens may be having a hard time managing what little funding he’s brought it. There is a $35 overdraft fee listed in his expenditures.

The group of candidates will square off in the August 25 St. Pete primary election. A general election between the top two finishers will be in November. The next round of treasurer’s reports are due Friday.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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