Hilton Head Ward 3 candidates raise more than $35,000

Candidates running for the Ward 3 seat on Hilton Head Island Town Council raised more money as a group this election cycle than those who ran for council last fall.

However, they have not raised nearly as much as the seven mayoral candidates in the November general election.

The current council candidates have raised more than $35,500, compared to $24,000 raised by six candidates who sought three open council seats in November. Additionally, the seven mayoral candidates raised a total of $141,814, according to the latest online campaign disclosure filings with the State Ethics Commission.

Among those vying to complete the council term of new Mayor Drew Laughlin, Lee Edwards has raised more than twice as much and spent nearly four times as much as his next-closest fund-raiser.

For this past November's mayoral election, Laughlin raised $46,209; Tom Crews, who narrowly lost to Laughlin in a runoff, raised the most at $53,318. Three other candidates for mayor each raised between $10,000 and $18,000. Two candidates raised nothing, according to reports.

Council candidates last election each raised between $1,700 and $6,000 -- in line with what many of the Ward 3 candidates have raised and what has been raised in previous elections.

Some island political observers say local campaigns shouldn't become too expensive.

"Large amounts spent by candidates, especially at the local level, are worrisome," said Nicole Jordan, past president of the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island. Campaigns should be focused on average citizens and small donors, she said.

Vivian Miller, also a past president of the league, who has lived on the island more than 20 years, said the level of spending by candidates is nothing new.

For example, former Mayor Tom Peeples raised about $50,000 in 1995 when he was first elected mayor.

Here are highlights of campaign finance filings for the Ward 3 Town Council election:


Edwards has raised $20,292, according to his latest filing on Jan. 28.

He received $19,350 in individual contributions and $942 of in-kind contributions.

So far, he's spent $16,777, mostly on food and drinks for campaign events, direct mailings, print advertising, bumper stickers, posters and cards. He also spent $201 on video editing for a message on YouTube, which can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hc2u0YrxfQo.

His largest contributors are James Richardson Jr. ($1,000), owner and managing general partner of Coligny Plaza, president and CEO of Windmill Harbour Co., and managing member of Atlantic Coast Builders & Contractors and Plantation Properties; insurance broker William Thomas ($1,000); father and retiree Berryman W. Edwards Jr. ($1,000); mother and retailer Ruth Edwards ($975).

He also received multiple $500 contributions from area construction companies.


Warren has raised $7,370, according to his latest filing Jan. 31. All came from individual contributions.

He has spent $4,017, mostly on advertising and printing.

His largest contributors are The Atlantic Group ($1,000); tennis pro Stan Smith ($500); leadership instructor Winifred LaForce ($500); and retiree Lillian G. Warren ($500).


Zych has raised $6,505, according to his latest filing Jan. 29. He's used $1,509 of his own money and raised $4,996 in individual contributions.

He's spent $6,112, mostly on advertising, printing and mailings.

His largest contributors are retiree Fran Raus ($500); retiree Alton Adams ($250); his wife, Mary ($250); retiree Roger Penny ($200); retiree Richard Lieberman ($200); and Ward 2 Town Councilman Bill Harkins ($200).


Baer has raised $1,400, more than he raised in his County Council re-election bid, according to his latest filing Feb. 2.

Baer used $441 of his own money for his re-election in November to a second term representing the island's District 2 on County Council. He was unopposed.

He received $900 in individual contributions and a $500 loan, according to his Town Council campaign filing.

He's spent about $636 on flyers, campaign buttons, business cards, a website, a DVD and uploads of two interviews with WHHI-TV.

His largest contributors are island retirees Joe Zimmerman ($125), who serves on the county's Airports Board; William John ($100); William Coleman ($100); John McCann, chairman of the town's Parks and Recreation Commission ($100); and Bob Fielitz ($100).


McAvoy reported to the S.C. State Ethics Commission that he spent nothing beyond his $35 filing fee.