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Que Pasa publisher and downtown developer are top donors to Winston-Salem council members

by Jordan Green

jordan@yesweekly.com @JordanGreenYES

Allen Joines raised $157,850 in his quest for fourth term as mayor of Winston-Salem — more than five times as much as the top fundraiser among successful candidates in the eight ward races.

In one sense, that’s not surprising. After all, mayoral hopefuls are the only candidates on the municipal ballot in Winston-Salem who must run across the entire city, which means that they need to reach eight times as many voters as candidates running in one of the wards.

What is extraordinary about Joines’ fundraising total is that the popular mayor probably could have won reelection without spending a dime. He plowed through Democratic challenger, Gardenia Henley, with 88.4 percent of the vote in the Sept. 10 primary, and then went on to knock off Republican James Knox, whose candidacy was disavowed by his party, with 84.3 percent of the vote on Nov. 5.

Employees of IMG, a global sports marketing company whose collegiate headquarters is located in Winston-Salem, gave the Joines campaign its largest sums, with a total of $7,655, closely follows by the Flow Companies, a local auto dealership.

A review of contributions for the recent campaign cycle by YES! Weekly aggregated contributions made by individual employees and their spouses, along with political action committees aligned with specific companies.

Joines came out of his 2009 campaign, in which he ran unopposed, flush with $91,158. In his recent campaign he spent $175,209 — an amount that does not include funds spent after Oct. 23.

He ran a robust campaign, spending $26,178 on printing, $16,166 on newspaper advertising, $9,489 on direct mail and $2,745 on radio advertising, according to figures released by the Vela Agency, a consulting firm that managed the campaign.

The Joines campaign set up by far the most sophisticated infrastructure, hiring organizers with ties to different segments of the community and an army of poll workers and neighborhood canvassers to get the message out to different parts of the city.

Campaign finance reports reflect a payment of $8,000 to Natasha Smith, listed as campaign coordinator, and $5,000 to Albert T. Porter Jr. for transporting poll workers. Jim Shaw, who is also the president of the Liberty Community Development Corp., co-chaired Joines campaign and received $4,000. Tara Orris, who serves as third vice chair of the Forsyth County Democratic Party, received $3,000 for campaign administration.

Even NC Sen. Earline Parmon, whose get-out-the-vote efforts for her own campaigns are legendary, received a $2,000 payment for what a report called “campaign management,” while campaign staffer Meenal Khajuria received $2,250.

The Joines campaign also employed a total of 47 neighborhood canvassers and poll workers, who got paid by the day in increments ranging from $75 to $180 — totaling $14,351.The largest donor to all victorious city council candidates is Jose Isasi, the CEO of Que Pasa Media Network, and his wife, Flora. Que Pasa Media Network publishes the three editions of the newspaper of the same name in the Triad, Triangle and Charlotte markets. Isasi also manages a company that owns the shopping center where his media company’s Winston-Salem headquarters is located. The shopping center received a loan from the city for renovations.

The Isasis also contributed $5,000 to the campaign of Northwest Ward Councilman-elect Jeff MacIntosh; and $4,000 each to the campaigns of Joines, North Ward Councilwoman Denise D. Adams, East Ward Councilman Derwin Montgomery and Southeast Ward Councilman James Taylor Jr. All told, the couple contributed $21,000 to prevailing city council candidates.

Placing a distant second is developer Hank Perkins, who owns East Coast Capital. Perkins owns the property where Ziggy’s nightclub is located, and has played a key role in promoting the north end of downtown as an entertainment destination. (Disclosure: YES! Weekly publisher Charles Womack is a part owner of the Ziggy’s business.) The Winston-Salem City Council approved an entertainment district encompassing Ziggy’s earlier this year. One of Perkins’ companies also bought the Winston Mutual Building, a long dormant business office in the East Ward last year.

Perkins contributed $4,000 each to the Montgomery and Taylor campaigns. The contributions from Isasi and Perkins together accounted for 73.3 percent of the total funds raised by Montgomery and 61.3 percent of Taylor’s receipts.

Perkins also contributed $4,000 to the Adams campaign and $1,000 to the reelection effort of Northeast Ward Councilwoman Vivian Burke.Another generous donor whose contributions were distributed among a handful of prevailing candidates is Ralph Womble, a former vice president of the Hanes apparel company. Womble formerly served on the NC Board of Transportation. Various campaign finance reports identify him as a partner with Trade Street Partners. Campaign finance reports reflect that Womble contributed $3,000 to the Joines campaign, $1,000 each to the campaigns of MacIntosh and Southwest Ward Councilman Dan Besse, and $500 each to the campaigns of Montgomery and Taylor.

After Joines, MacIntosh raised the largest amount —’$28,389 — of any city council candidate. MacIntosh’s race was thought to be the most competitive of the eight ward contests because of the high number of Republican and independent voters in the ward, but MacIntosh managed to defeat his Republican opponent by a 16.8 percent margin. A real estate broker with Leonard Ryden Burr, raised a significant amount of his campaign funds from the industry in which he works. Fellow employees at Leonard Ryden Burr kicked in $1,150 for the campaign, and MacIntosh received a $4,000 contribution from the NC Realtors PAC. The NC Association of Realtors also spent $5,900 as an uncoordinated expenditure on a mailer to support the MacIntosh campaign.

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