By Elon Glucklich

The Bulletin

Money keeps trickling in for a pair of Deschutes County commissioner candidates.

Incumbent Tony DeBone and Democratic challenger Jodie Barram are neck and neck in their fundraising efforts, with a possible general election matchup still six months away.

DeBone had raised $13,800 as of Monday, state campaign finance records show. Barram stood at $13,582. The candidates have been busy this spring: DeBone was at $5,020 in mid-March, while Barram was at $4,672.

A third candidate, Republican Richard Esterman, has also been busy, just not raising money.

He’s repeatedly said since announcing his candidacy that he wouldn’t take campaign contributions and has spent more than $3,500 from his own pocket since January on campaign signs.

DeBone, meanwhile, has spent $12,776 on advertising and other expenses since announcing his re-election bid in December. Barram has spent $7,863 since November.

DeBone picked up a $1,500 contribution from the Central Oregon Association of Realtors on Monday, and a $3,000 donation from the co-founder of a Lebanon manufacturing company last month. He said his fundraising strategy is to approach different political and business groups across the county and ask for their support.

“My goal in life isn’t to have to be the big fundraiser,” DeBone said. But, “Getting my name out there is key for the voters. … I’ve definitely started to just make the rounds, making sure people know I’m serious about running.”

Barram is a Bend city councilor. The $13,500 she’s collected includes a $2,000 donation from the local chapter of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

She said she’s been knocking on doors in Bend, Redmond and other communities to get her name out.

“I’ve been very intentional about getting out of the Bend area, meeting with folks in Redmond and Sisters, and getting to La Pine and Terrebonne,” Barram said.

Esterman’s strategy has been to make his campaign pitch at community meetings across the county. He recorded a radio advertisement Tuesday, which should start airing this week.

“Like I’ve said before, Deschutes County needs a leader, not a fundraiser,” Esterman said.

DeBone and Esterman will square off in the May 20 primary election, trying to grab a majority of the votes from registered Republicans.

The primary winner will take on Barram in the Nov. 4 general election.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820,