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Rojas Doubles Up Scharfman in Campaign Money

First-time candidate dominates large donations, out-of-town contributions.

In his first run for public office, Selectmen's candidate used his business connections and fund-raising skills to bring in more than double the amount of campaign funds of his rival, .

According to campaign finance documents filed with Ellen Cushman yesterday, March 26, Rojas has raised $22,935 from Jan. 1 until the middle of March from a mix of residents and out-of-town contributions. Scharfman reported just under $11,000 from fund raising and funds carried over from the previous year.

Along with out raising the current School Committee member, the vice-chairman of the Planning Board has spent more than twice what Scharfman has; $15,376 to $6,843.

Just how great the disparity is between the two, Rojas spent nearly $3,700 in food for fundraisers and campaign events, just $1,400 less than Scharfman on his printing costs. Rojas spent $7,480 in printing not including banners. (Both men and the two candidates for school committee reporting on time all used the same printer, Connolly Print of Woburn.)

And in a show of support for other candidates, Rojas' campaign donated $100 to the school committee campaigns of and .

While Scharfman, who won his seat in 2010, has a little more than $4,000 remaining to put into a final pitch to votes, Rojas, an architect with offices in Cambridge, has about $7,600 on hand for the final two-and-half-weeks in their race to replace the retiring Angelo Firenze on the board.

While impressive, Rojas' numbers remains behind the $32,700 raised and carried over and $26,200 spent in 2001 by now State Sen. Will Brownsberger over the same three month during his re-election to the board.

The money to Rojas's coffers come from more than 100 donors, with nearly 40 percent coming from non-Belmont addresses. And 16 of his donors gave the $500 maximum in state races compared to two who hit the max for Scharfman.

Who gave

Those giving includes Warrant Committee chairwoman Elizabeth Allison, community leader Sue Bass, Firenze (who endorsed Rojas), attorney Joe Noone, salon owner Nicola DeMagistris, Belmont Savings Bank's CEO Bob Mahoney, Tomi Olson, Robert Sarno, Paul Tucci, Planning Board chairman Sami Baghdady and members of the Flett and French families.

In addition, a number of real estate professionals gave to the campaign including the developer of the former Murray Sandler Skate Shop Robert Orfaly, Brian Burke and fellow Planning Board member and Cushing Square developer Joseph DeStefano.

All but two of Scharfman's contributors were from Belmont resident including Energy Committee's Roger Colton – whose wife and school committee candidate is Schaftman's campaign treasurer – Greg Stone, Health Board Chairman David Alper, the League of Women Voter's Bonnie Friedman and former Selectman Anne Paulsen.

The full list of donors and expenses will in on the Town Clerk's website in the next few days.

While the Selectmen's race has entered the five figures, the school committee side of the ballot is far more low key.

Both Lougee and Griffiths submitted their financial information on time while Sullivan informed Cushman yesterday that he would be late in filing.

Lougee raised $1,872 including providing herself a $512 loan since the beginning of the year and spending roughly $1,812 on printing and staples for lawn signs.

Donating to her campaign include school stalwarts Susan Griffin, Kate Lowrie and Adriana Poole.

First-time candidate Griffiths raised $1,680, half going to printing with nearly $900 paid to reimburse her chairman, Ellen Schreiber, for printing costs and software. Poole, Alper, Jonathan Jacoby and Sue Smith donated to her race.

Sullivan's end-of-the-year financial statement showed a little over $1,500 in funds remaining from his run for the Board of Library Trustees in 2011. In that race, he spent just $318 on signs.

Tom Noonan, Charles Hasekian, James and John Murphy and Sandra Kendall donated to Sullivan in 2011.

Jill Tapper March 28, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Why are out of town donors so interested in what is happening in this race?
Joe March 28, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Looks like they're mostly developers and real estate people or business owners. That way they can say come on do this for me or overlook something, remember when I donated the money to your campaign. Hello we're talking politics here. Seems like a democrat thing, although it doesn't say whether the candidates are democrat or republican or independent or another party.
J.P. Cushing March 28, 2012 at 07:26 PM
The Rojas signs at the Sandler construction site on Concord Ave also gives the impression of developer involvement or favoritism. Both the developer/owner and Rojas campaign staff should lean toward the side of being squeeky clean. (And his supporters (Dillon) had fits when Bowe pointed this out in his blog.) And, wow, 40% of donors from out of Belmont! $3700 (16% overhead) seems like a lot. Rojas' campaign gave to the School Committee campaigns - just to spite Scharfman's crew? Contributions to Sullivan would seem like a payoff for dropping out of BOS race if it weren't for giving the Griffiths too. And were his contributors aware that their money is going to other campaigns? Interesting article, Patch!
Bill Dillon March 30, 2012 at 01:21 AM
Really funny how small some people can be . . . . JP Cushing must have blinders on . . . . . . or maybe he missed the apology from Mr. Bowe regarding his "mistake" when he wrote a misguided critique. Is it a bad thing when people who run businesses, when successful people who own commercial real estate, make a decision to endorse a candidate for the Selectman's office ? The endorsements that Andy Rojas has received from successful business people demonstrates that Andy has the confidence and respect of people who know how to balance a budget, make productive use of their resources and capital, and earn a profit. Dan Sharfman's career in the non-profit sector ought to raise a red flag. Or perhaps we should believe that if Dan wins Belmont will suddenly become the beneficiary of "charitable contributions" from the tooth fairy ? . . . . . . but the insinuation that there was a $100 "payoff" for Matt Sullivan dropping out of the BOS race . . . . . . the tooth fairy is more believable than even suggesting such nonsense.
J.P. Cushing March 30, 2012 at 01:47 PM
40% of donors from out of town - is this a "Belmont" election? Apparently not. Lets just give a government seat to outsiders. Your comments on Sharfman are plain silly. But not surprising. Answer this: Does Andy Rojas really believe that Matt Sullivan would benefit the Belmont Public Schools?
Peter Mancini March 30, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I am not sure how anyone that contributed the amount of time to the town he loves like Andy has, can be considered an outsider? If he was successful getting contributions to his campaign, that only proves that he has a lot of close friends and is very competent in managing his campaign.
Yury Kats March 30, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I am with JP on this, if contribution to Sullivan was not a "payoff", then it must be a sign of Mr. Rojas supporting and endorsing Mr. Sullivan for SC. In which case, Mr. Rojas loses all credibility with me. During "Candidate's night", when asked for reasons to run for BOS, Mr. ROjas mentioned that it would give him power to make appointments that benefit the town. Support of Sullican for SC shows to me, that appointments Mr. Rojas is willing to make are not always in town's interest.
Matt Sullivan March 30, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Payoff? PLEASE! I dropped out of the race for Selectman because I decided to on my own. I then decided to run for School Committee because many people who were ready to support me for Selectman called and urged me to run for School Committee. I hope people don't pay any attention to this false rumor. Andy Rojas also donatec to Pashca Griffiths. She's another candidate for School committee. Why aren't people mentioning that? I also don't know what the big deal is with out of town donors? Everyone has friends and family outside Belmont don't they? What is so wrong with friends and family from outside Belmont supporting any candidate?
Franklin Tucker (Editor) March 30, 2012 at 06:39 PM
OK, I think everyone has had their say on contributions as an incentive to or not to run for an elected position. Let's move on to other issues related to contributions.

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