Chris Williams, left, and Jim Donchess

Nov 1, 2015 11:44 AM

Nashua mayoral race breaks spending records for city elections

NASHUA - Voters head to the polls to pick a new mayor on Tuesday in a race that broke previous spending records for city elections.

Jim Donchess and Chris Williams, after competing in a wider primary, are now facing off for the mayor's seat that was held for the past eight years by Donnalea Lozeau.

According to The Telegraph of Nashua, Chris Williams' campaign raised the most money with $185,244 in donations with significant sums coming from development, business and corporate entities, according to campaign finance reports filed between Aug. 19 and Oct. 14.

Donchess received a total $143,895 in donations with the most significant sums - more than $26,000 - coming from contributions from family members.

A pre-election financial analysis by Open Democracy of New Hampshire found a "trend of large donor concentrations on the part of ...Chris Williams and smaller donations on the part of...Jim Donchess," the group said in its Oct. 28 report.

Open Democracy is a non-partisan nonprofit group seeking to increase transparency in government and strengthen democracy. Its executive director, Daniel Weeks of Nashua, made a $100 donation to the Donchess campaign. Weeks said while he made the "contribution in my individual capacity," Open Democracy does not support or oppose any candidate.

"Williams' campaign received approximately 490 donations with the average donation totaling $378 while Donchess' campaign received approximately 718 donations (excluding family contributions) averaging $175 each, or half the size of his opponent's campaign," Open Democracy reported.

The top 10 donors to Williams' campaign contributed a total $55,000 - or nearly 30 percent of his total fundraising, according to campaign finance reports and the Open Democracy analysis.

In comparison, the top 10 donors to Donchess' campaign - including Tom Green and Vicki Donchess' individual contributions but excluding the couple's joint contributions - total $24,336 - or 17 percent of total funds, according to his campaign finance reports.

Polls open Tuesday at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. In addition to picking a new mayor, Nashua voters will be deciding on members of the Board of Education, Aldermen, Board of Public Works, Fire Commission and a proposed change to the city's charter.

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