Candidates out-of-state campaign donations deemed unusual, Wierwille responds 

Stacey Brown (left) and Noemi Wierwille at the recent candidate forum.

Stacey Brown (left) and Noemi Wierwille at the recent candidate forum. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By JAMIE L. COSTA

Monitor staff

Published: 11-02-2023 5:36 PM

A newcomer to Concord politics, Noemi Wierwille has received more than $5,000 in donations for her Ward 5 campaign, most of which came from out-of-staters.

It’s the second-highest campaign contribution total among Concord candidates this election and by far the most of any of the 10 ward races. Mayoral candidate Byron Champlin raised more money and at-large city council candidate Kevin Porter raised almost as much as Wierwille in his city-wide race.

Of the $5,350 donated, $2,490 came from New Hampshire residents while the remaining $2,890 came from residents in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, her native Minnesota, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia, according to city records.

Wierwille, who is running against incumbent councilor Stacey Brown, has spent more than $1,700 on campaign signs, a campaign website and office supplies. She expects to spend the rest on mailers sent to residents asking for their vote.

“I personally know every single person who has donated to me and the vast majority are people that are close personal friends and family,” Wierwille said in a phone interview with the Monitor. “They are the only people that I have asked for money.”

In seeking campaign advice from 603 Forward, a nonprofit encouraging working-age candidates to run for public office, she was advised to reach out to family and friends for donations, she said. When challenging an incumbent, the biggest thing is getting her name out there and to do that, she’d need to raise around $5,000, she said.

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“I reached my goal pretty quickly and I refused local donations,” she continued. “Instead, I wanted them to get the word out, introduce me to their neighbors, post a yard sign. That’s how I asked people to support me locally.”

Wierwille took in $5,350 to Brown’s $1,240.

Brown and other local residents, said that it’s unusual for a candidate to receive so many donations from out-of-staters in a city election.

“Considering it’s for a position representing Concord, I think it’s kind of concerning,” Brown said. “But what can we say, no one outside of Concord can donate? I’m not going to say that but getting support from non-Concord residents to represent Concord folks doesn’t make me feel great.”

Brown said most of her donations came from Ward 5 residents and she stopped accepting campaign contributions after meeting her fundraising goals.

Wierwille isn’t the only candidate whose out-of-state contributions make up more than half of her campaign funding. Kevin Porter, who is running for one of two at-large seats, has received $4,800 in donations, $2,870 of which came from out-of-state residents from California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Vermont, while $1,930 came from New Hampshire residents.

Both Wierwille and Porter hold national jobs while living in Concord.

Nothing in city campaign laws prohibits candidates from collecting donations from residents outside of the city or the state.

Champlin, who has served on city council the last 10 years, has raised nearly $8,900 in donations in his campaign for mayor so far, according to city records. When Mayor Jim Bouley last ran for the post in 2021, not only did he not accept donations, he did not spend any money on his campaign.

“I don’t think local elections are won by fundraising,” Wierwille said. “They’re won by knocking on doors and winning people over in person, so I don’t think it matters that much.”

The third filing period for candidates to report donations and expenditures closes on Nov. 21. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 7.