Campaign donations show interest in IW clerk’s race

Published 11:04 am Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Campaign finance reports show a high interest in who becomes Isle of Wight County’s next clerk of circuit court.

Come Nov. 7, voters will decide whether Laura Smith, who serves as retiring clerk Kathleen Torrence’s chief deputy, or public defender Elisabeth Culpepper gets the job.

Reports reflecting donations and expenses through Aug. 31 were due to the Virginia Department of Elections on Sept. 15.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Smith’s report shows just over $20,900 in donations and just over $15,800 in expenditures. Culpepper reports $8,000 in donations and has spent just over $4,400.

Five Smithfield-area businesses, each of whom gave $200 or more, are backing Smith. Among them is the Cypress Creek Golfers Club, which gave Smith just over $3,800 in monetary and non-monetary contributions in May.

Smith, according to her reported expenditures, spent just over $6,000 to sponsor and participate in a May tournament at the golf course.

Culpepper’s reports show a nearly $4,000 non-monetary August donation from Sean Harris, another public defender. The donation is listed as the cost of yard signs. Harris had previously donated $2,500 in cash to Culpepper’s campaign in June.

Both candidates have already surpassed the amounts candidates raised when the race was last contested in 2020. Each Isle of Wight candidate’s total also exceeds the amounts contributed as of Aug. 31 to any of the four candidates running for clerk of court in neighboring Surry County.

Three years ago, Torrence raised just over $6,200. Her then-challenger, Jamie Mumford, reported just over $2,000.

In Surry, Thomas Mayes is leading the four in both total funds raised and the total spent.

Mayes’ reports show just over $2,100 to date in donations as of Aug. 31, of which just over $2,000 had been spent as of the same date.

Reporting the second highest donation total is Earl Newby, at just over $2,000, though he’d spent less than $300 as of Aug. 31. His funding comes primarily from two $1,000 donations, from Marietta Cottingham of Hampton and Gammiel Poindexter of Surry.

Coming in third financially is Shelia Hunt, who’s raised just over $1,100 and spent just over $750. Janeen Jackson, who’s raised the least, reported just over $748 in donations and just over $723 in expenses.

Clerks of circuit court are elected to eight-year terms. Torrence, since 2020, has filled the remaining three years of her predecessor Sharon Jones’ term, which began in 2015. Surry’s clerk of court, Gail Clayton, also is not running for reelection.