If fund-raising is any measure, the race between incumbent Susan J. Grelick and challenger Bill Kindel for Amherst supervisor is starting out neck and neck.
Ms. Grelick, a Democrat, and Council Member Kindel, a Republican, started their fund-raising efforts in recent weeks, and, so far, are bringing in equal amounts of money.
As expected, most of the money from development interests is going to Kindel, while Ms. Grelick relies largely on her family and friends, although she is also reaping some financial benefits of incumbency.
Ms. Grelick raised $10,415 from Jan. 15 to July 15, according to reports on file with the county Board of Elections. About 12 percent comes from the development and corporate community, generally firms doing business with, or hoping to do business with, the town.
"It's mainly friends, and I'm involved in a lot of community organizations," Ms. Grelick said. "It's grass roots. Traditionally, the Republican Party has gotten financing from developers.
"It's not that I don't invite them (to fund-raisers.)" she added.
Kindel raised $10,385 during the same period. About 60 percent of the money came from the development and corporate community.
"They want to see the type of government I support," Kindel said of the developers who are helping to finance his campaign. "I don't want to see Amherst shut down. We should have office buildings and industrial parks.
"I think they see her (Ms. Grelick) as wanting to shut Amherst down. They look at her as being anti-developer," he said.
Ms. Grelick rejected the label.
"I think we can have healthy growth without being traffic congested," she said. "I try to vote for rezoning that will not impact on traffic, that encourages preservation of neighborhoods. There is room for everyone in Amherst."
Neither Kindel nor Ms. Grelick is facing a primary challenge. The money each is raising goes toward their November faceoff.
Of course, the unknown in the Amherst supervisor's race is how much of Ms. Grelick's personal wealth she is willing to spend on the race.
Ms. Grelick donated $50,000 to her campaign the last time she ran for supervisor, and while she has not made any personal donations, or loans, in the current race, it is still early in the campaign.
Ms. Grelick says she hopes to raise a greater portion of her campaign funds through traditional means this time, now that she is known in town.
"It would be preferable to me," she said, although she is also willing to spend her own money if necessary.
"If I have to put in some of my money, I am willing to make a commitment to my own campaign," she said.
To Kindel, Ms. Grelick's willingness -- and ability -- to help finance her own campaign, puts him at a disadvantage.
While Kindel estimates he will raise and spend about $25,000 on the campaign, Ms. Grelick declined to estimate what the race will cost her.
"What happens is the race seems equal, then, all of a sudden, at the last minute -- $50,000," Kindel said.
"It's a matter of priorities," Ms. Grelick said. "If I want to take money I earned and put it back into my campaign, if that is what I choose to do with my money . . . I think public service is important, and it is important to give back to the community."
Ms. Grelick, who worked as a lawyer before entering town politics in 1991 -- first as town clerk, then as supervisor -- said her personal wealth comes from money she earned in the past and invested.
"I am a good financial manager," she said. "I save a lot of money, have a portfolio."
Ms. Grelick said she has also received some campaign loans in the past from her family, which owns a jewelry wholesale business, BOMI Gemstone Importers in Buffalo.
So far, the biggest single contribution Ms. Grelick has received is $1,000 from a family member. Her second largest contribution is $750 from the United Auto Workers.
Ms. Grelick started the campaign with $4,401. She raised $8,250 from individuals, $1,215 from corporations and another $940 from other contributors, bringing her war chest to $14,806, campaign records show.
Ms. Grelick has spent $3,298 on the campaign so far, with the biggest payment being $1,860 to Fanny's restaurant, where she held a fund-raiser. As of July 15, there was $11,508 remaining in her campaign fund.
Kindel opened his campaign with $821. He raised $4,210 from individuals and $6,175 from corporations, bringing his campaign fund to $11,206.
Kindel spent $4,735, including $2,500 for a campaign consultant, Marc Chodorow.
Kindel's two largest contributions came from developers Uniland Partnership, 100 Corporate Parkway, and Zaepfel Corp., 5505 Main St., which each donated $500 to the campaign.
There was $6,470 remaining in Kindel's campaign fund as on July 15, the reports show.