Local News

Former Mayor Calls Fetzer Spending Obscene

Posted October 7, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— It's election day, and one of the incumbents is expected to be an easy winner. Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer is running for re-election against several relatively unknown opponents. So the question is, why did Fetzer spend so much time, effort and money on a campaign? 

Turnout in most precincts was as low as predicted, and maybe that's why spending was relatively high, at least for mayor. Incumbant mayor Tom Fetzer spent thousands on tv and radio ads. 

Campaign finance records show that Fetzer spent close to $300,000 dollars on his re-election effort. Fetzer's nearest competitor, as far as spending goes, was Democrat Venita Peyton, who dropped just shy of $3,000 on the mayorial race.

Fetzer told WRAL his spending made up for slanted press coverage and an endorsement of his challanger by theThe News and Observerof Raleigh. 

Some believe Fetzer feared a similar election to 1977, when underdog Isabella Cannon upset Incumbant Jyles Coggins. 

"The first money I got was a dollar from my newspaper boy," Cannon recalls. "My contributions were $5, $10, or $25. Cannon was on a different level from Coggins and the big money. 


Now 93, Cannon ran on a neighborhood first platform. She was referred to the little old lady in tennis shoes. But at 73 years old with a small campaign budget, Cannon won by about one thousand votes. The former mayor can't believe Fetzer's $300,000 spending figure. 


"I think it's obscene," Cannon explains. "Its absolutely obscene for a $15,000 job. The job at my time was $6,000. That's what I got." 

There has been some speculation that Mayor Fetzer was gearing up for a gubernatorial campaign in the year 2000. He says that's not the case. Tuesday, he just wanted to win.