Veteran Tempe City Councilman Len Copple has raised less money than upstart challenger Onnie Shekerjian, with just more than a month left before the pair square off in the city’s May 16 runoff.
Both candidates — who are vying for one vacant seat on the City Council — have raised similar amounts of campaign money. But a Republicanbacked anti-Copple group has widened the fundraising gap, distributing thousands of dollars for negative campaign postcards that went out only days before the March primary election.
Copple, a two-term incumbent on the council, raised $24,617 through the reporting period that ended April 3, according to city campaign finance records. Shekerjian raised $27,236 in the same time. Meanwhile, a group called Tempe Deserves Better gathered $6,257.68 — all of it from the Arizona Republican Party. The money funded two mailings that criticized Copple.
Copple objected to a political party getting involved with a local election in which party affiliation isn’t on the ballot. “This is supposed to be a nonpartisan race,” he said.
Shekerjian could not be reached for comment Friday.
Shekerjian and Copple emerged from a primary election in which two candidates — Councilman Ben Arredondo and newcomer Shana Ellis — won seats outright. Arizona State University student Corey Woods was eliminated.
Copple had 14 votes more than Shekerjian in the primary, an election in which candidates disagreed on few issues. Perhaps the most notable aspect was Arredondo’s war chest. He raised more than any other East Valley candidate in the March primary.
Tempe City Council election: Funds raised through April 3 for candidates in the May 16 runoff:
• Onnie Shekerjian, $27,236.09
• Len Copple, $24,617.25 Final tally for candidates in March 13 primary election:
• Ben Arredondo, $166,999.30 (elected)
• Shana Ellis, $30,054.30 (elected)
• Corey Woods, $11,619.79 (eliminated) Source: Tempe City Clerk