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FORT MYERS — With four months to go until the primary election, incumbent Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott has collected nearly a quarter of a million dollars in campaign contributions.
Campaign finance reports for the first quarter of 2012 were filed this past week by candidates for office in Lee County. They show Scott leading the pack in campaign contributions, receiving $67,930 in the first quarter of 2012 to reach a total of $224,570 so far in his race against candidates Lee Bushong, Tim Fisher and Christian Meister.
"I've got a lot of support and it's overwhelming," Scott said.
More than 1,000 donors from a broad base of support have financially supported Scott's campaign.
Scott said one of his most special donors was an older Pine Island woman who sent him a $10 check with a handwritten note that said she wished it could be more but she thought he was doing a good job.
That donation — the smallest single amount received for his campaign so far — was a "battery charger," Scott said.
Most of his challengers have spend all the money they've raised. Scott has spent $12,221 so far on his campaign.
"Money is a very, very telling component of the strength of a campaign," Scott said.
Bushong, who has raised $10,308 to date total and received no contributions in the most recent report, has spent $10,182 so far on his campaign. He owns a private investigation firm, Bushong and Associates.
Fisher, who has raised $10,600 to date, has spent $7,587 so far on his campaign. A law enforcement officer, he was an investigator for the Internal Affairs Division as well as a member of the SWAT team. He also is the supervisor of the School Resource Division.
Meister has raised $115 for his campaign and he's had $15 of expenses. As a legal analyst and author with experience in procedural law, he has managed litigation for various court systems.
Lee County Commission
When it comes to the Lee County Commission election, Fort Myers Beach Mayor Larry Kiker, who recently announced his bid for the District 3 seat, is topping the donation list. He's followed closely by incumbent Ray Judah.
Kiker raised $32,403 for his campaign in the first quarter of 2012 and spent $1,364, according to campaign treasurer reports.
Judah, whose District 3 covers south Lee County, has raised $23,100 to date — with $11,745 coming this quarter. He has spent $967.
Over the years, Judah has limited his individual campaign contributions to no more than $100.
So, it's no surprise when challengers raise more money, Judah said.
"The political process should be about people, not about money," he said.
Former Daily News reporter Charlie Whitehead, who covered Lee County government for more than 20 years, is running for the commission seat.
So far, Whitehead's campaign has raised $4,170 with $839 in expenses.
In District 5, which covers Fort Myers toward eastern Lee County, incumbent Frank Mann is leading with $15,233 in donations. Steve Haas has raised $7,672 with $705 in expenses and Matthew Shawn Miller collected $3,100 with $1,438 in expenses, reports state.
In District 1, which covers the western portion of Lee County, incumbent John Manning and Gerard David Jr. are vying for the seat.
David has collected $66 for his campaign and has spent $50, reports state.
Manning has raised $550 and spent $43.
Lee County School Board
The three candidates vying for the south Lee County District 3 seat are Les Cochran, Nick Kellen and Cathleen Morgan.
Cochran has raised the most money, with $25,844, including $8,115 from the first quarter of 2012, reports state. He has spent a total of $1,877 on his campaign.
Morgan has raised $6,394 and spent $1,118, reports state.
Kellen hadn't filed a treasurer's report as of Friday. Reports were due Tuesday.
In the race for the Fort Myers area District 2 seat, incumbent Jeanne Dozier is leading in contributions, with $16,212 collected in the first quarter of 2012. To date, she has spent $1,464, reports state.
Bob Chilmonik has raised $6,619 for his campaign. Paul Schafer has raised $6,905 with $4,807 from the first quarter of 2012. Schafer has spent $1,984 so far on his campaign.
Lee County Property Appraiser
Bertrand Pepper is running against incumbent Kenneth Wilkinson for the Lee property appraiser position.
Wilkinson is leading the race with $9,045 raised for his campaign, with $526 of expenses so far. Pepper has collected $725 and spent $254, reports state.
In three months, the candidates again will have to document how much they have raised during the second quarter of 2012. The primary election is on Aug. 14; the general election is set for Nov. 6.