Leading the fundraising and spending charge in this year's election is the slate of six Republican candidates who are supported by a political action committee - Friends of Hagerstown PAC - an organization that raises money to donate to political campaigns.
Richard F. Trump, mayoral candidate and slate member, said the campaign spending is necessary.
"You have to get your message out," Trump said.
"I think it's obscene," said Mayor William M. Breichner, a Democrat who is running for his second term in office.
The PAC and the slate - Trump and Republican council candidates Ruth Anne Callaham, the Rev. Haru Carter Jr., Scott D. Hesse, Dan G. Kennedy and Torrence M. VanReenen - have raised about $64,200, three-fourths of the total reported by all candidates in this year's election.
All candidates, including one who lost in the primary, reported raising a total of about $86,000 through May 1.
The three mayoral candidates - Breichner, Trump and Republican write-in candidate Robert E. Bruchey II - have spent a total of about $21,600 from their personal campaign accounts. Trump also has received in-kind donations from the PAC, including advertising costs that Trump did not have to pay for out of his campaign account.
Whether the spending will make a difference Tuesday is a topic of debate.
Bruchey recalls losing his bid for a second term in office in the 2001 race by 68 votes.
"I spent money like a drunken sailor," Bruchey said, recalling the $13,394 he spent that year against Breichner, who spent about $6,500 in that race. It was Breichner's first run for mayor.
"I don't think it depends on the money you spend," Bruchey said. So far this year, Bruchey has spent $5,867.
Breichner's reports show spending of $3,316 as of May 1. While Trump so far has spent nearly four times as much as Breichner, the current mayor said he believes the voters will look past the money and consider the issues.
"Quite frankly, I'm appalled at the monies being spent. ... When you spend that kind of money, you almost feel it's desperation," Breichner said.
Trump had spent $12,478 by May 1, $6,000 of which was given to him directly by the PAC. He said the money is needed simply "to get elected," and while he didn't know how much money it would take to win the election, he didn't want to take a chance.
Trump said it also was worthwhile to spend money for the slate's election chances.
"Nothing was being spent before, and look what you got," Trump said. "Now, we're trying to get good government in that's reasonable, considerate and not rude. ... When you have no name recognition and your opponent's on TV every Tuesday ... you have to get your message out."
Trump and other slate members have benefited from PAC spending of about $12,200 for newspaper, radio and billboard advertising and other campaign items.
The slate council candidates have spent more than $12,700 from their individual campaign accounts. Callaham has spent $3,073; Carter, $3,084; Hesse, $1,480; Kennedy, $1,790; and VanReenen, $3,348.
The Democratic City Council candidates who are reporting financial information have spent more than $4,200 together. Kelly S. Cromer has spent $3,200, and Alesia D. Parson has spent $938.
Democrats Kristin B. Aleshire, Lewis C. Metzner and Penny M. Nigh - all three of whom are incumbents - have signed affidavits that they will neither raise nor spend more than $1,000 on their campaigns.
Metzner said the slate's spending is unnecessary. He said he doesn't plan to spend more than $700, and hopes future city elections do not cost as much.
"I do not believe, in a town this size, that ... it should be a requirement to get elected to be able to raise funds of that size," Metzner said. "It's clearly an attempt by the political action committee to take control, to further its agenda."
Cromer is the leading fundraiser among fellow Democratic council candidates, claiming about $4,075 in donations so far, plus another $2,199 out of her own pocket.
"I don't think you need to raise $65,000 to win the election, and I would hope the voters can see through that," Cromer said. "The city's not for sale."
Slate candidates Callaham and Kennedy said the money is necessary to break the power of the incumbents, although they believed the amount of money raised by the slate and its PAC is a testament to the community's support of their platform.
Callaham said she doesn't think the next city election will be as expensive.
"I see this as the most important election in 50 years. ... The next time around, the election won't be as critical," Callaham said.
Kennedy said the tide may be turning toward more expensive campaigns.
"I think there's a great deal at stake. I would expect at the next election ... it might double again," Kennedy said.