ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - It's Easter Sunday afternoon and Pete Dinelli's campaign office is buzzing.
Dinelli, a Democrat and one of three challengers seeking to unseat Mayor R.J. Berry, is in a good mood.
"We really pushed very hard and I believe we've reached our goal," Dinelli said.
The goal Dinelli is referring to is Sunday's deadline to gather $5 campaign contributions from 3,621 registered city voters.
If the city clerk verifies they have enough on Monday, Dinelli's campaign will qualify for $362,000 in public campaign financing from the city.
"This is one candidacy that is not going to be owned by the special interests," Dinelli said. "We will owe no money to the lobbyists, we will owe no favors to the major contributors and this mayor I think is going to be hamstrung."
Mayor Berry ran a publicly financed campaign in 2009, as did his two main challengers, but has elected to go the private route this time around.
His campaign denies any special interest influence and released the following statement:
In these tough economic times, Mayor Berry does not believe that taxpayer dollars should be used to fund political campaigns, particularly after much of the city's public financing law was ruled unconstitutional. Mayor Berry is receiving tremendous support from citizens, small business owners, job creators and employees. Contrary to Mr. Dinelli's belief, these are not special interests. The Berry campaign will not accept corporate donations and will publicly disclose every contribution his campaign receives, which will be limited in accordance with city law.
Berry isn't the only one campaigning with private money.
Retired APD sergeant and Republican challenger Paul Heh initially filed for public financing but quickly opted for a privately financed campaign instead.
Former first lady and Democratic challenger Margaret Aragon de Chavez took a similar route.
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