Jeffco school board candidates, linked to recall group, outpace opponents in race for open seats

Two Jefferson County school board candidates, backed by organizers of a politically-charged recall effort, handily outpaced their opponents in the race for the two open seats on the board, records show.

Candidates Ali Lasell and Amanda Stevens are two-fifths of the so-called “Clean Slate” that aims to change the entire makeup of the controversial school board this fall. Lasell raised $48,155. Stevens raised $34,568.

Lasell’s opponent, Kim Johnson, raised $10,630, while Stevens’ opponent, Tori Merritts, raised $4,735.

Those four candidates are vying for the open seats on the board after Lesley Dahlkemper and Jill Fellman decided not to seek re-election.

Tuesday was the first fundraising deadline for school board candidates across the state. But the numbers available so far in Jeffco tell only part of the story. Targets of the recall, the candidates running to replace them and the political committees on both sides of the issue must file their campaign finance reports by midnight, Oct. 20.

While Tuesday’s reports paint only a partial picture of the state of play in Jeffco, they do provide an early hint of how much money this unusual election is likely to attract.

Follow the Money | Use our database to track donations to candidates.Lasell’s and Stevens’ warchest are a relatively large bounty for a suburban school board race and are likely to grow.

By comparison, Jeffco school board President Ken Witt raised a total of $10,741 during his 2013 campaign. Tonya Aultman-Bettridge, who also ran unsuccessfully for the Jeffco school board in 2013, raised a total of $31,202.

Among Lasell’s and Steven’s high-profile donors, Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, former Jeffco Superintendent Cindy Stevenson and former Columbine High School Principal Frank DeAngelis.

Johnson’s largest contributors were Laurens and Sandra Thurman of Redlands, Calif. They each gave $1,000. Merritts’ largest donors were Robert Blackwell of Conifer and Shirley Scheider of Lakewood. Each gave $400.

Additionally, the issue committee For Better Public School raised $5,000 from Jeffco Student First Action, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that is generally supportive of the school board majority subject to recall.