Money

2022 Campaign Spending in West St. Paul

Thanks to The North 40 Tavern for their support. A north woods tavern somewhere in the middle of a big city. They regularly rotate tap beers, so stop in to see what’s currently flowing.

Campaign spending in West St. Paul municipal elections nosedived with the lack of competition. The 2022 election had the lowest total cost in more than 10 years.

Chart showing total cost of City Council and mayoral election campaigns in West St. Paul from 2008 to 2022.
  • Comparison: The last time elections were this inexpensive in West St. Paul was 2012 for the mayor’s race and 2010 for the Council races. Those were the most recent years with similar uncontested races. It’s a big flip from 2020, which was the most expensive race in history.
  • Most expensive: Pat Armon mounted the most expensive campaign, though that’s not saying much since he just barely outspent the least expensive campaign from 2020.
  • Least expensive: It’s hard to say who spent the least. Dave Napier and John Justen were both uncontested, and Jake Nelson dropped out. Kimetha “KaeJae” Johnson spent the least in a contested race.
  • Most raised: Wendy Berry brought in $3,415, most of it coming in early in the race before it was clear her opponent was dropping out. She didn’t spend nearly that much.
  • Where does the money come from?: Most campaigns rely on donations from individual supporters. In the past we’ve seen more self-funded campaigns, but we don’t see any of that this year. Spending from outside groups, which ramped up in 2020, continued this year. Mostly it came from unions, with nearly $1,950 to Berry and $500 to Armon.

Spending Per Race

Ward 1
Pat Armon (winner)$1,566
Kimetha “KaeJae” Johnson$300*
Ward 2
John Justen (incumbent, uncontested, winner)$123
Ward 3
Wendy Berry (incumbent, winner)$1,237
Jake Nelson (dropped out)$0*
Mayor
Dave Napier (incumbent, uncontested, winner)$0
(*=no reports filed; Johnson’s numbers come directly from the candidate)

Want to Run?

If you’ve ever thought about running for office, here’s a look at the average spending for campaigns in West St. Paul:

Chart showing the average cost of running in City Council and mayoral elections in West St. Paul from 2008 to 2022.

The cost of running really depends on the competition, as uncontested races are cheap.

Here’s a look at competition in West St. Paul elections in the modern era, where 35% of our elections have been uncontested going back to 1988:

Chart showing the number of candidates in primary and general elections in West St. Paul from 1988 to 2022.
Chart showing the number of candidates in West St. Paul elections going back to 1988. The yellow line indicates the maximum number of candidates in a general election (eight), i.e., a fully contested election.

Next elections:

  • ISD 197 school board in November 2023 when four seats will be up. Those seats are currently held by Brenda Corbett, Joanne Mansur, Byron Schwab, and Terry Stamman. The filing period will open in July/August 2023.
  • West St. Paul in 2024 with three City Council seats and the mayor. Those seats are currently held by Mayor Dave Napier, Julie Eastman in Ward 1, Robyn Gulley in Ward 2, and Lisa Eng-Sarne in Ward 3. The filing period will open in mid-May 2024.

Data Disclaimers

  • Our analysis of campaign spending in West St. Paul is based on public campaign finance reports going back to 2008. Not all candidates file reports and it’s not always clear if they did not spend anything or did not report the spending.
  • There is a reporting threshold where candidates are not required to report spending less than $750, which could impact these numbers.
  • Average cost of running only includes contested races.
  • Totals are based on amounts spent, not amounts raised (several candidates have remaining cash on-hand after election expenses. For example, Berry has nearly $2,200 cash on-hand).

This kind of local reporting holds candidates accountable and promotes transparency in our elections. You can support this work by becoming a member.

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