Fine Art Center a Major Contributor to Heather Gracy

Commission Seat 3 candidate Heather Gracy received an outpouring of financial support from members of Dunedin Fine Art Center advisory board and board of directors. She has also outspent her opponent on mailers, parties and marketing.

Heather Gracy is neck and neck with incumbent David Carson in the campaign money race. 

With a tally of $21,345, she has raised $25 more than Carson so far. Gracy has spent more than half of what she's raised — about $12,360 — mostly on printing and marketing with , a company owned by Bill Francisco, chairman of the Dunedin Fine Art Center advisory board.

Gracy also received a large or numerous contributions from many other Dunedin Fine Art Center board of directors and advisory board members, from Sail Honeymoon and the Dunedin Firefighter's Association. The Dunedin Fine Art Center recently  for a planned expansion of its West Wing and Sail Honeymoon is a contractor coming up for renewal with the city.

Gracy received financial support from Mayoral candidate Bob Hackworth ($100), and Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala ($50) and Lianne Doglione, wife of late former mayor John Doglione ($50, plus $25.45 in-kind for party supplies).

Other Dunedin Fine Art Center Contributors:

  • Irwin Entel, former DFAC board member ($100)
  • Arthur Leasure, former DFAC board of directors ($50)
  • George Ann Bissett, executive director at DFAC ($100) 
  • Allen Kynes, DFAC board of directors, $200, and wife Deborah Kynes, DFAC advisory board, $32.68 in-kind for beverages and paper products ($233)
  • Aaron Fodiman, publisher at Tampa Bay Magazine and DFAC advisory board member, $100 and $400 in kind for food and beverages ($500)
  • Barbara Hubbard, wife of John Hubbard, who sits on the DFAC board of directors ($100)
  • Debra Weible, artist and DFAC board of directors ($250) 
  • J. Patrick Donoghue, DFAC board of directors president ($150)
  • Kevin Donoghue, financial advisor and DFAC advisory board member ($150) 
  • Mel Sams of Tarpon Springs, DFAC board of directors ($130) 
  • Gladys Douglas ($500)
  • Diane S. Wheatley, DFAC board of directors, immediate past president ($25)
  • Gail Gamble, DFAC advisory board member, $150, and husband Charles Gamble, $445, including $95 in-kind for food and party supplies ($690)
  • Ken Reinhold, DFAC advisory board member, in-kind donation for invitations, stamps, food and supplies, $349.23; and $500 from wife Patricia Reinhold ($849)
  • Mel Ora, husband of DFAC trustee Pamela Ora ($250)
  • Susan Latvala, DFAC advisory board ($50)
  • Ginger Francisco, teacher and wife of Bill Fransico, DFAC advisory board member and owner of AdSharp ($500)
  • AdSharp, owned by DFAC advisory board member Bill Francisco, who provided in-kind services to the Gracy campaign ($499.38)

Top Contributors:

  • Norman and Nancy Phelps, $500 each from the same household ($1,000)
  • David Pauley and Norma Tillges, former citizen advisory board members, $500 each from the same household ($1,000)
  • Matthew Alan Brown and Valerie Brown of Safety Harbor, $500 each from the same household ($1,000)
  • Jeff and Lori Mattox of Sports Katz Media, Inc., $500 each, same household ($1,000)
  • Dr. Ken and Patricia Reinhold, DFAC advisory board member and wife, $500 and $349.23 in-kind ($849)
  • Gail Gamble, DFAC advisory board member, $150, and husband Charles Gamble, $445, including $95 in-kind for food and party supplies ($690)
  • Dave Wolters and Diana Carsey, $300 each, same household split between two occassions each ($600)
  • Greg Gracy, lawyer and relative at Peebles & Gracy ($500)
  • Suzanne Gray, legal assistant ($500)
  • Tony Griffith, attorney ($500)
  • Ginger Francisco, teacher and wife of Bill Fransico, DFAC advisory board member and owner of AdSharp ($500)
  • Sail Honeymoon, contractor on Dunedin Causeway up for renewal with the city ($500)
  • Gladys Douglas, Dunedin Fine Art Center ($500)
  • Dave Wolters and Diana Carsey, $250 each, same household ($500)
  • George Nigro, Dunedin Historical Society advisory board, and May-Ettie Nigro, citizen arts and cultural advisory board member, $250 each, same household ($500)
  • Michael Darmanin ($500)
  • John R. Stewart, husband of fine art photographer Victoria Stewart, twice donated $250 ($500)
  • Dunedin Firefighters Association, twice donated $250 ($500)
  • AdSharp, owned by DFAC advisory board member Bill Francisco, provided in-kind services to the Gracy campaign ($499.38)

Contributions From Businesses or Organizations:

  • Sail Honeymoon, contractor on Dunedin Causeway up for renewal with the city ($500)
  • Security Title ($150)
  • Dunedin Firefighters Association, twice donated $250 ($500)

In-Kind Contributions:

So far, Gracy has received roughly $4,748 in kind contributions.

At least $3,354 of Gracy's in-kind contributions were for food, party supplies, beverages or event hosting. Here's a breakdown:

  • Sea Sea Riders Restaurant ($300)
  • Blur Night Club ($500)
  • Kelly's ($500)
  • Margaret Word Burnside, publisher at Tampa Bay Magazine ($500)
  • Beso Del Sol Resort ($493)
  • Aaron Fodiman, DFAC board and publisher at Tampa Bay Magazine ($400)
  • Dr. Ken Reinhold, DFAC board ($349)
  • SportsKatz Media Inc., in-kind T-shirts ($200)
  • Waterfront Gallery, framed picture ($98)

She also received almost $500 in services from AdSharp, owned by DFAC advisory board member Bill Francisco, $200 in T-shirts from Sports Katz Media, and $133 in promotional fans from J.B. Edwards.


Gracy has spent roughly $12,360 of her campaign contributions, mostly on direct mailing and marketing services with AdSharp.

Here's the breakdown of her expenses:

  • Marketing, signage, website: $4,606 at 
  • Direct Mailing: $3,617
  • Signs and card handsets: $1,588 at Graphic Odds & Ends LLC
  • Party food, beverages: $699 at Sea Sea Riders Restaurant
  • Postage: $470 at the United States Post Office
  • Campaign swag: $529 at Sports Katz Media, Inc., J.B. Edwards and Bayshore Trophies & Awards
  • Meet and greet: $225 at Kelly's

For Heather Gracy's full report, visit her online Campaign Treasurer's Report.

Related Coverage:

See Also, David Carson's campaign contribution report.

Cecilia October 24, 2012 at 11:22 AM
WOW- DFAC a real iife Super PAC.
Judy Frankburg October 24, 2012 at 12:57 PM
The same people listed above give to 4 groups that I am a member of too? This has a lot to do with the fact these people just don't like Dave Carson and think he is bad for Dunedin. Mrs Gracy is not even a member of DFAC. A lot of these same people gave money to Mitt Romney too? We are a small town most of us are members of 5 or more org's! All this proves is that people in Dunedin Love DFAC and want it to grow!
Judy Frankburg October 24, 2012 at 01:14 PM
I wish someone would look at the city records and see just how Mr Carson abused his power to gain the property that is next door (south side) of Carson Pest Control! My friend was renting that spot and tried to start a Boat storage company. Carson while on the Board of Exceptions gave my friend such a hard time he ended up walking away getting out of his lease. Shortly after that Mr Carson bought the property on a Contract for Deed "off the books" and got an exception from the very board he denied my friend and opened a Boat Storage Company! If that is the kind of leader you want vote for him! I assume the people who are listed above are of the same character if they would give money to someone like this.
-Ed Harris- October 24, 2012 at 03:00 PM
WOW! I'm glad to see so many come forward and support what they believe in! I do not find the title of this story to be accurate unless The Patch wants to revise Dave Carson's title to "Chamber of Commerce strong arms members to support candidate" Is that true? No! and neither is "DFAC is a contributor". People are the contributors and people gave money just like the members of the chamber did. What I don't see is where Heather had to take out a $10,000 loan to herself, her money came from the people of Dunedin who support her. The DFAC did not endorse anyone but the Chamber did. That speaks volumes! The DFAC welcomes all for free to come be an Artist, explore your imagination and better yourself. The Chamber of Commerce?...........not so much! I have always had a problem with Organizations & Corps endorsing Candidates. People, small business owners YES, Org's no, how does an org or corp speak for all it's members? It doesn't and can't.
Mel Sams October 24, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I have contributed to Heather's campaign financially, as well as serving as her treasurer. My committment to Heather's campaign is a direct result of my friendship with Drew and Heather, NOT in my capacity as a DFAC director. I support Heather because I beleive that the City of Dunedin will benefit tremedously from her leadership.
Happier October 24, 2012 at 06:16 PM
She is bought and paid for by the special interest group DFAC. And she will reward them by giving them the taxpayers money.
Judy Frankburg October 24, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Happier either you are bought and paid for by Carson or you are Carson! Either way see ya Nov 6
Mel Sams October 24, 2012 at 07:40 PM
The City of Dunedin owns the land that the DFAC sits on, and consequently owns the building. Every $1 spent on the DFAC campus is a $1 contribution to the City of Dunedin.
Dave Carson October 24, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Mr. Harris, The Chamber has not endorsed me. This group has not endorsed anybody in any recent election. The Arts Center has not endorsed Heather either. But an honest look at contributors to our campaigns will reveal the truth.
-Ed Harris- October 24, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Sorry Dave, when I called the Chamber and asked who to vote for I guess the guy who answered was just going rouge lol Regardless if you or your supporters want to claim the DFAC is endorsing Heather then it's fair game to say the Chamber endorses you. I have looked at the donors for both of you and the donors are just people in Dunedin that support most of all the organizations that are here in Dunedin, most of the top donors on Heathers serve on many boards but I don't see the Patch listing that. So goes the same for your donors too Dave, they serve on multiple boards, one of them sponsors the Stadium. So What!? Reveal what truth? She got more donors than you. Why does it matter? DFAC is Dunedin, it's on Dunedin land, all improvements go to Dunedin residents. So if DFAC gets the funding they have asked for.......YES it goes to the city of Dunedin! Why have you got such a ........(can't think of a good word) whatever against Dunedin? Your a Commissioner! Makes no sense unless you and some other people just don't like DFAC. If you don't think it's a worthy cause great! But don't think for a second that a whole bunch of people are going to not be very happy with you. And don't get up upset if people give money to Heather or support her run for office.
Ken Hannon October 25, 2012 at 07:51 PM
I'm amazed to read this headline! The Dunedin Fine Art Center is a charitable not-for-profit corporation, that has never, nor will it ever support, endorse or contribute to a political cause of any kind. To imply otherwise is inaccurate at best. Even in the article's own list of TOP Contributors, 8 out of the top 10 contributors are NOT associated with DFAC... Where does the headline come from then? I quote a recent letter from Patrick Donoghue, DFAC's immediate past pres.: "It is with great sadness that I see the Art Center becoming a tool for short term political points – and worse, projected in a bad light to our community. Not only is this effort short sighted, I fear much of the information is intentionally misrepresented to draw conclusions that are not accurate for one of the most admired public-private partnerships over the last four decades." I share Mr. Donoghue's sadness. I'm not sure why people keep attempting to thrust DFAC into the political fray? What is to be gained? By whom? And for what reason? Answering these questions would certainly "reveal the truth," which is something I expect is being obfuscated by continuing to point fingers at a 40 year-old gem of a non-profit educational institution whose primary goal is art education and whose constituents are school-aged children, retirees and art lovers of all ages. Insist on keeping DFAC as some sort of scapegoat? Try this headline: "Over 75% of Gracy support NOT from DFAC affiliates?"
Dave Pauley October 26, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Somehow, someone missed the point. The proposal from the City Manager was for the city to match the $500,00.00 grant we were offered and to have the Art Center raise $800,000.00 to build the needed addition to the art center. Bottom line is the City has to come up with $500,000.00 to add to the 500 grant and 800 thousand Art Center funds to build a$1,300,000.00 addition to the art center. This being said, the completion on the project now means the Art Center operates this addition yet the City owns the addition once it is constructed. What person, in a logical mind, would say, "I will not accept $1.00 for every .50 you give me? Twist the facts and numbers any way you want but you have to be absolutely crazy to not accept such and offer. Why would anyone, associated with the Art Center, not want to support a candidate that at least has an open mind to helping this City and the taxpayers make Dunedin an even better place to live. Keep in mind the Mrs. Gracy has maintained an open minded posture on the Art Center decision. Her mind is open to any input that the citizens can give her; not a stand off position of, I will not support it not matter what you have to say.
Patick Donoghue October 30, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Dear Katie, Now who is endorsing who? I think you should take a tip from Mr. Carson's advice in that "an honest look at contributors to our campaigns will reveal the truth." Did you get a chance to pick up his campaign contributions? As of the September 19th report, 23 lived on streets Mr. Carson would like to provide drainage service on what many consider private property. Using Mr. Carson’s logic, wouldn’t that mean that those 23 individuals believe Mr. Carson will support their special interest? Of the 23, twelve of those donors are part of Sky Loch Villas - which benefited tremendously through what Mr. Carson noted was "a huge change in policy” (Patch, March 24, 2011). To date, Mr. Carson has been vague as to whether his business also services that property, something that a reasonable person might consider material when he so strongly supported this “huge change” in the Sky Loch decision. When you’re done, start counting those tied to real estate, development or property management? (I counted 25). Could there be a thought that Mr. Carson’s waiving of impact fees might benefit those “special interest?” I think it is wonderful that we look at all of the candidates to see who may best serve our city, but do think you need to apply the same standard to all. Sincerely, Patrick Donoghue
Dave Carson November 04, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Patrick, My brother and I are lucky to have built a very large customer base here in Dunedin. Using your logic I cannot make any vote for fear of helping a customer of mine. In fact, a few of the Arts Center members have recently cancelled my service, so these people have punished me for my position not to support the $500,000 request from the Arts Center. Storm water removal is a government responsibility and really is that simple. Your father will benefit if we finally get around to fixing Lake Sperry. These issues have been ignored for far too long. We will have others in the future and I will support these locations too, whether they are customers of mine or not. Unlike my opponent I have no special interest support such as the Arts Center. Dave Carson


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