Nearly $50,000 has been raised by candidates in four hotly contested Douglas County school board races.
The Douglas County Republican Party has given about $13,000 of in-kind services for mailings by four candidates, while $7,500 in contributions to opposing candidates has come from sources connected to the American Federation of Teachers. (District teachers are represented by an AFT affiliate.)
But the biggest single contributor is Denver investor and artist Ralph Nagel, who’s made a total of $15,000 in contributions to three conservative candidates. Nagel is a regular contributor to GOP candidates, a trustee of the University of Denver and board chair of the Alliance for Choice in Education.
Doug Benevento, Dan Gerken, Meghann Silverthorn and incumbent John Carson are running as a conservative bloc, promoting more parental choice, more charter schools, more transparency in district spending and less autonomy for district administrators.
Sue Catterall, Kevin Leung, Kristine Turner and Emily Hansen (the latter two are incumbents) are running with the endorsement of the Douglas County Federation, which represents district teachers.
(See this previous EdNews story for more background on the candidates and the issues.)
While the differences are sharp in the contests, most of the candidate spending so far has been on routine board race expenses like yard signs, brochures, websites and the like. And, the total spending is modest compared to Denver, where just one candidate, Mary Seawell, has raised nearly $80,000.
Here’s a rundown on candidate fundraising by district:
DISTRICT B: Most the western part of the county, not including Highlands Ranch
Carson: $9,289 contributed in cash, $3,358 in non-monetary contributions, $999.46 spent and $8,351.11 on hand.
Contributions of interest include $500 from former GOP Sen. Bill Armstrong, $3,222.45 in-kind from the country Republican Party, $5,000 from Nagel and $50 from state GOP Chair Dick Wadhams.
Catterall: $5,515 contributed plus $395 in non-monetary donations, $4,665.88 spent and
$774.70 on hand
She’s received $2,500 from the AFT-Douglas County Federation and $395 from the Colorado Democratic Party.
DISTRICT D: Southeastern part of the county, including Castle Rock
Gerken: $3,694.99 raised, $3,242.25 in non-monetary contributions, $2,332 spent and $1,361.89 on hand.
Contributions include $500 from Armstrong, $1,000 from real estate investor Josh Taxman of Boulder and $3,242.25 in-kind from county Republicans.
Leung: $300 has been raised, he’s loaned himself $2,824.26 land spent $2,824.26.
DISTRICT E: A north-central slice of the county, west of Interstate 25 and north of Castle Rock east of I-25
Benevento: $14,751 contributed plus $3,242.25 in-kind, $2,482.83 spent, $12,157.99 on hand
In addition to $5,000 from Nagel and $3,224.25 from county Republicans, he also has raised $1,300 from the political action committee of Denver law firm Greenberg Traurig. A former member of Gov. Bill Owens’ cabinet, Benevento also seems to have tapped into his political networks for money. He’s received $50 from House Speaker Terrance Carroll, D-Denver and a lawyer at Greenberg, and small contributions from Statehouse lobbyists Katy Atkinson, Gale Barry, Sean Bradley and Tanya Kelly-Bowry. Contributors from GOP and Owens circles include Sean Duffy, Troy Eid, Maria Garcia Berry, Rick O’Donnell, Henry Sobanet and John Zakhem, plus state Rep.. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch.
Turner: $4,475 raised and $5,039.36 spent.
Contributions include $2,500 from Brenda Smith of Castle Rock, president of the Douglas County Federation, $500 from AFT staff member Billy Husher of Denver and $50 from Jane Urschel of Larkspur, an executive of the Colorado Association of School Boards.
DISTRICT G: The northeastern part of the county east of I-25
Hansen: $4,525 in contributions plus $422 in-kind, $3,371.80 of spending and $1,133.88 on hand.
The largest contribution is $2,500 from the AFT-Committee on Political Education.
Silverthorn: $7,301.96 in contributions plus $3,317.25 in-kind, $1,956.41 spent and $5,381.79 on hand.
She’s received $3,222.45 from the county GOP for mailings and $5,000 from Nagel.
Several candidates have contributed varying amounts to their own campaigns, and in some cases have given modest donations to other allied candidates.
The financial reports are for the period ending Oct. 8 and filed this week. The next financial reports are due Oct. 30.
Although board members represent districts, county voters vote for candidates in all districts. (Board members in three other districts aren’t up for election this year.) Voting this year is by mail ballot.
Do your homework – candidate websites