Staff Writer

SALEM — Mayor Kim Driscoll is dramatically outperforming her leading mayoral challenger in campaign donations and spending for this year’s mayoral race.

Throughout 2021, Driscoll has pulled in nearly five times as much in donations as Ward 7 City Councilor Steve Dibble, who is joined by Frank Perley in a three-way mayoral preliminary election on Tuesday, Sept. 14. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

The four-term mayor has raised at least $94,403 to begin the week, and had $59,058 in cash at her disposal to end August, according to the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance. That contrasts to Dibble’s receipts totaling approximately $19,645, with $17,715 to end August. Perley has not reported any campaign donations or expenses to date.

Driscoll also has more than five times as many donors, with 643 contributions to her campaign reported this year compared to Dibble’s 115 reported donations.

“I think for people, that’s a sign that Salem’s heading in the right direction,” Driscoll said. “The majority of our donors are Salem residents.”

Salem residents make up just about 75% of her donors, with the remaining quarter coming mostly from elsewhere in Massachusetts.

But $43,305 of what was reported as of this week — 45.9% of all her donations in 2021 — is coming from outside of Salem, which Dibble has been quick to criticize.

He regularly points to how much cash Driscoll pulls from outside of the city, saying last week that he felt “it’s wrong to take in tens of thousands of dollars from developers, real estate people, lawyers from outside of Salem.”

“Salem is being bought,” Dibble said. “The lion-share of all donations to me are from Salem residents. The little bit I have from outside of Salem, it’s from my sisters-in-law, old college roommate, friends of mine.”

Dibble reported $16,658 in donations from Salem residents, about 85% of his campaign funds, and $2,986 from outside of Salem.

Driscoll, however, says out-of-town donations is not unusual.

“As someone who has been in a position of leadership, I also have a lot of individuals who support the value I bring to local government,” she said. “You’re at times going to see people outside (of Salem) contributing, because I’m a statewide leader on some initiatives and some people want to see that.

“No donation drives policy or agenda in Salem,” she said.

Contact Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

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