GONZALES — Ascension Parish Councilman Chris Loar is the early leader in raising money for this year’s campaign to be the next parish president.
By the end of 2014, Loar’s campaign had a hefty $120,369 lead over the campaign coffer of the nearest announced candidate for the Oct. 24 election.
But the year-end numbers reported to the state Board of Ethics last month were tallied before longtime Gonzales City Councilman Kenny Matassa formally announced his intention to run. The third candidate to declare his candidacy in the race is Gonzales-area surveyor Clint Cointment, who ended the year with $25,354.25 in cash on hand.
The reports are only an early glimpse into the fundrasing expected to replace outgoing Parish President Tommy Martinez, who is not seeking re-election after a fourth nonconsecutive term. The three candidates said this week they planned more fundraisers, some this week.
Loar, a two-term councilman from Prairieville and former Ascension Parish Council chairman, ended 2014 with $145,724.11 in campaign funds, according to his campaign finance report.
Matassa had not reported any fundraising by the end of 2014 in his bid to be parish president. His campaign funds totaled $2,265 by the end of 2014.
Still, Loar raised 1.6 times more money and in-kind donations from contributors than Cointment did in 2014. Both made formal announcements in the middle of last year.
In 2014, Loar raised $89,050 to Cointment’s $33,618.38. Cointment’s contribution total includes $1,623.38 of in-kind donations from his surveying company by providing a meal and banquet room for a fundraising event, his report says.
Cointment was able to further even the fundraising differential with Loar by personally loaning his campaign $8,000 to bring Cointment’s total campaign receipts to $41,618.38 in 2014.
In an announcement in early February, Loar’s campaign said he had raised more than $170,000, but that figure includes fundrasing from 2013 and 2014.
Loar, who recently resigned from his IT job at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System to devote more time to the campaign, said the contributions are a sign of his continued momentum.
“The reason we have received that much support is because my supporters want a professionally run local government led by a business executive with vision,” Loar said in a statement. “They share our goal to take Ascension Parish to the next level.”
Cointment said that while it takes money to run a campaign, his top priority has been communicating with the public for the past year and a half.
He noted that the majority of his support comes from within Ascension. He said he believes the president’s job amounts to a trust placed in a person to do a job for the people, not a position from which someone should make a career.
“It’s not a stepping stone toward a higher political office and should be viewed with the greatest respect,” Cointment said. “It is earned, not bought.”
Matassa said his campaign is going well and said he believes he will have the funds necessary for an election that will be about the people anyway.
“I do have enough to run a campaign, and I feel good about that,” Matassa said.
Cointment was closer to Loar on the spending side in 2014: $14,640.75 for Cointment to $18,085.47 for Loar.
In addition to advertising and campaign operations, Cointment’s spending included $1,319.41 on the buzz-inducing “Start the Conversation” signs he put out last year.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.