Schools

Fundraising tops $200K for county board of ed race

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Data From Campaign Financial Disclosure Statements
Campaign finance disclosures show big gaps in how much candidates for local education boards have raised. The graphic omits candidates who plan to raise and spend under $2,000, because they don’t have to file itemized disclosure reports.

More than $200,000 has poured into the local race for a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education, recent financial disclosure filings reveal.

Melissa Baten Caswell has raised $139,722.60 this calendar year to challenge Grace Mah for a seat on the county board, records show. Mah has raised $79,884.99. Baten Caswell’s and Mah’s fundraising totals far exceed the amount raised in any other local education race.

Candidates on the ballot in November who plan to raise or spend at least $2,000 recently had to file a Form 460 disclosing any contributions of $100 for more from July 1 through Sept. 19. Candidates who raised money during the first half of the year previously had to file a disclosure covering that period. The totals in this article reflect the full calendar year, through Sept. 19.

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Left Photo Courtesy of Grace Mah; Right Photo Courtesy of Melissa Baten Caswell
The local race for a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education has pulled in over $200,000.

Baten Caswell’s largest individual donations are $10,000 each from Steve Brown, Mark Goines and Sangeeth Peruri. Goines and Peruri are former Los Altos School District trustees and Los Altos residents. Brown is a resident of Los Altos Hills. Baten Caswell also received $7,500 total across two contributions from Jennifer Carlstrom of Los Altos Hills.

Baten Caswell’s campaign has a total of $121,884.83 in expenditures. That includes more than $112,000 paid to Whitehurst Mosher Campaign Strategy & Media, based in Oakland, for campaign consulting. The media company has in turn made various payments on her behalf, including for advertising and campaign mailings.

Mah’s largest individual contribution is a donation of $15,000 from former Bullis Charter School Board chairman and Los Altos Hills resident Kenneth Moore. She also received a total of $15,000 across two donations from the Champion for Education PAC, plus $10,000 from Santa Clara Charter Advocates for Great Public Schools. Mah also has loaned her campaign $6,000.

Over the course of the year, Mah’s campaign has spent $47,191.49, including $34,000 to Saguaro Strategies of Berkeley for website design and digital advertising.

MVLA

Incumbent Phil Faillace’s campaign has raised the most money of the three candidates vying for two seats on the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees. Faillace’s campaign has brought in $5,032, $3,500 of which was a loan from Faillace and his wife, Sheila. The campaign lists $337.52 of total expenditures.

Challenger Laura Teksler has raised $2,916, including $1,435.31 in donations she made to her own campaign. The largest other donation was $500 from Omar Ghosheh of Los Altos. The campaign’s expenses are listed at $1,106.66.

The remaining candidate, incumbent Sanjay Dave, submitted paperwork indicating that he anticipates raising and spending less than $2,000 on his campaign this calendar year. Thats means he doesn’t have to file the detailed breakdown of contributions and expenditures that candidates receiving or spending more than $2,000 do.

CUSD

Incumbent Sylvia Leong leads the pack in fundraising among the four candidates for two seats on the Cupertino Union School District Board of Education. Leong has raised $25,494.71 this year. Challenger Sudha Kasamsetty comes in second with $12,483.05.

Leong’s largest individual donation is for $2,500 from Richard Sam of Burlingame, who separately donated another $500 to her campaign. Fellow board member and Los Altos resident Lori Cunningham is among her contributors with a $500 donation. Leong has also loaned her campaign a total of $2,500. Her campaign has spent a total of $6,385.66 this year.

Kasamsetty has raised $12,483.05 and spent $6,475.30. Her largest contributor is her husband, Kishore Kasamsetty of Cupertino, who is serving as the campaign’s treasurer; he donated $5,000. She lists additional nonmonetary contributions totaling $5,900.05, including for lawn signs and the nomination fee, from her and her husband. On the finance disclosure form she submitted, the nonmonetary contributions are also counted as expenses.

Incumbent Phyllis Vogel’s campaign has raised $6,100, the entirety of which is loans she made to her campaign. The campaign has spent $3,937.

Challenger Wil Fluewelling has submitted paperwork indicating that he plans to raise and spend less than $2,000, meaning itemized contributions and expenditures aren’t required.

FHDA

Among the four candidates running for three seats on the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees, incumbents Laura Casas and Gilbert Wong lead the pack in contributions, with $23,525 and $21,950, respectively.

Both Casas and Wong loaned their campaigns a total of $20,000 each, the lion’s share of their fundraising. Casas received another $3,525 in donations, the largest of which were two $1,000 contributions, one from Bruce and Barbara Swenson and the other from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 332 based in San Jose. Bruce Swenson is a former Foothill-De Anza trustee.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers also gave $1,000 to Wong and fellow incumbent Peter Landsberger, making it the largest contribution either candidate has received.

Landsberger has raised $7,510 in total, $5,960 of which he is loaning to his re-election effort, plus another $500 he donated to the campaign. The only other donation above $100 is the $1,000 contribution from the electrical workers.

The final candidate for the board is newcomer Govind Tatachari, who has raised $3,449. Of that, $650 is money he loaned the campaign, while the rest is made up of donations. The largest contribution is $2,000 from Liang Chao, who serves on the Cupertino City Council.

On the expenditure side, Govind has $10,795.32 in expenditures this year, Wong is at $6,160, Landsberger $5,960 and Casas $553.72.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the correct amount that Jennifer Carlstrom donated to Melissa Baten Caswell's campaign. It was $7,500 total, made up of one $5,000 contribution and another $2,500 contribution, not two $5,000 contributions.

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