Red and blue spend green in lead-up to elections

High dollar figures, both in campaign contributions and expenditures, highlight a trio of Hays County Commissioner races as six total candidates sprint toward the finish line.

All told, candidates raked in a combined $80,000-plus in contributions and spent $44,000-plus in expenses from July 1 to September 29, according to 30-day campaign finance reports filed Oct. 9.

One of the more costly commissioner seat races is in Pct. 3, where Democrat Jimmy Alan Hall takes on Republican Lon Shell.

Together, the two have spent more than $17,000 on the race, which will fill the seat vacated by current county judge candidate Will Conley.

Shell led the way with just over $10,000 in expenses, including $4,540 to Patterson and Company, an Austin-based consulting firm. Hall, a Wimberley area attorney, spent $7,030 on his campaign during the reporting period, the majority of which went to Austin resident Christopher Hall for salaries, wages and contract labor.

But Shell, who was appointed to the Pct. 3 commissioner’s seat after Conley announced his candidacy, outpaced Hall in political contributions, collecting just over $17,000 for his campaign compared to Hall’s $3,450.

Shell received contributions from various current and former elected officials including Conley, Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler, Wimberley City Council member Gary Barchfeld and Pct. 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant. Shell has close to $12,000 left in his war chest, while Hall has $914.

Hall and Shell combined have $10,500 in outstanding personal loans.

Meanwhile, fundraising in the race for Whisenant’s Pct. 4 seat has been lopsided as Republican candidate Walt Smith, a Dripping Springs resident and political consultant, raked in roughly $27,600 in contributions during the reporting period. Democrat Omar Baca, a San Marcos resident and Smith’s opponent, only pulled in $2,225 in contributions during the same time frame.

A combined $3,500 of Smith’s contributions derived from Political Action Committees (PAC).

That includes $1,000 contributions from PACs with Dallas-based engineering firm CP&Y, Houston-based civil engineering firm Cobb-Fendley, Gulf States Toyota, as well as a $500 contribution from Dallas-based design firm Huitt-Zollars.

Smith also received a $500 contribution from James Brett Binkley, CEO of Houston-based engineering firm Binkley and Barfield. While Smith spent just over $6,600 on his campaign, he still has $29,237 left in his war chest.

Baca, however, outspent Smith during the reporting period by amassing expenses in excess of $6,800, the majority of which was spent on printing and advertising expenses. Baca only has $781 left, and still has $10,750 in outstanding personal loans.

A similar theme has played out in the race for Pct. 2 Commissioner, where Democrat Richard Cronshey is challenging Republican incumbent Mark Jones.

Jones, who faces opposition for the first time since he was elected to office in 2010, pulled in $27,000-plus dollars in contributions from more than 70 donors.

Jones received a $2,000 contribution from J.B. and Kelley Kolodzey, along with $1,000 contributions from PACs with Houston-based engineering company Klotz Associates and engineering consulting firm RS&H.

A $1,000 contribution from the Dahlstrom Family, LP was also made to the Jones campaign, along with smaller amounts from several public officials such as Pct. 5 Justice of the Peace Scott Cary, Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell, Hays CISD trustee Will McManus and Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District board member Mary Stone.

Roughly $7,400 was spent on Jones’ campaign, but he still has roughly $27,000 left in his war chest.

Cronshey, a longtime educator, spent $6,800 on his campaign during the reporting period, the majority of which went toward political advertising. Cronshey has $9,700 left in his coffers.

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