LaFortune leads pack in fundraising for Ward 3 City Council seat

From left to right, Ward 3 candidates Nirva Rebecca LaFortune, Dave Lallier, Daniel Chaika and Mark Santow. (Photo credit: Kerry Kohring, Summit Neighborhood Association.)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Ward 3 City Council candidate Nirva Rebecca LaFortune has raised more campaign funds than her two Democrat rivals combined in the race to replace recalled former Councilman Kevin Jackson, according to disclosures the candidates filed with the R.I. Board of Elections Wednesday.

LaFortune reported raising $13,704 in the six weeks since launching her campaign, while School Board member Mark Santow brought in $5,774 and attorney Daniel Chaika hauled in $3,151. (Chaika also loaned himself $5,000.) The three Democrats will compete in a special primary July 12, with the winner taking on Republican Dave Lallier Jr. and independent Christopher Reynolds in the general election Aug. 16.

Jackson, a Democrat who represented Ward 3 since 1995, was recalled from office May 2, nearly a year after he was arrested for allegedly embezzling from a youth sports organization he founded and misusing his campaign account. He has pleaded not guilty.

Wednesday, which marks 21 days before the primary, was the first major fundraising reporting period for the three Democrats. The next is July 5, one week before the election. Lallier and Reynolds aren’t required to report campaign contributions until July 19.

LaFortune, a Brown University employee, reported $7,769 cash on hand after spending nearly half of what she raised. Her prominent donors included state Rep. Marcia Ranglin Vassell ($100), attorney Miriam Weizenbaum ($515), former state Senate candidate Maryellen Butke ($150) and Karina Wood ($103). The vast majority of her expenditures went toward a printing company and NGP VAN, a voter database software program that is popular among Democrats.

Santow, who finished with $2,747 on hand, reported $1,000 contributions from two family members as well as smaller contributions from an array of well-known figures, including School Board Vice President Nina Pande ($100), Jill Davidson ($200) and former Rhode Island coordinator for the Progressive Democrats of America Sam Bell ($50). Santow has reported minimal expenditures, although he disclosed that he purchased an ad with Providence Media, which owns Providence Monthly and East Side Monthly.

After loaning himself $5,000 and raising $3,151 more, Chaika finished with $4,081 on hand. His most prominent donor was James Riley, an employee with the R.I. Institute for Labor Studies, who gave Chaika $250. The bulk of his spending went toward advertising and printing.

While LaFortune leads the pack in fundraising, all three Democrats have received major endorsements over the last week. LaFortune is supported by the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Women. Santow has been endorsed by the Providence Teachers Union. Chaika is supported by the state building trade union.

The winner of the Democratic primary will likely be a heavy favorite in the general election against Lallier and Reynolds. Providence hasn’t elected a Republican to the City Council since 1986. The last non-Democrat to win a council seat was David Segal, who represented the Green party from 2003 until 2006.

Ward 3 stretches from the University Heights apartment complex off of North Main Street all the way north to the Pawtucket line.

Continue the discussion on Facebook

Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan