Schools

Over $500K pours into county board of education race

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Data from financial disclosure forms; Graphic by Zoe Morgan/Town Crier
The chart doesn’t include candidates who plan to raise and spend under $2,000, the limit to file detailed disclosures.

The race for a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education continues to far outpace other local education contests in fundraising, with the two candidates pulling in more than $500,000, according to recent campaign finance disclosures.

Incumbent Grace Mah has raised $323,311.32 so far this year, while challenger Melissa Baten Caswell has collected $180,255.95.

Baten Caswell is challenging Mah for her Area 1 seat on the county board, which she has held since 2007. Baten Caswell has served on the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education since 2008.

The bulk of Mah’s fundraising has come in recent weeks, with her campaign receiving $243,426.33 in contributions during the most recent financial disclosure period. Baten Caswell raised most of her money earlier in the year, with contributions totaling $40,533.35 coming in the most recent disclosure period.

Candidates planning to raise or spend at least $2,000 are required to periodically file a Form 460 disclosing any contributions of $100 or more. The most recent set of disclosures, covering the period from Sept. 20 through Oct. 17, was due last week.

Baten Caswell had been ahead in fundraising in the prior disclosure period, ending Sept. 19, with $139,722.60 to Mah’s $79,884.99. However, since then Mah pulled ahead, due in large part to two large donations from a political action committee supporting charter schools.

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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 $500,000.

The Charter Public Schools PAC gave Mah one donation of $75,000 in mid-September and another for $105,000 in mid-October. The group also gave her a nonmonetary contribution of polling services valued at $8,012.33. Back in August, they had also contributed $915 worth of photo expenses, plus consulting expenses valued at $2,500. This month, Mah also received a $20,000 donation from the Champions for Education PAC, which gave her a combined $15,000 in the last disclosure period.

On the expense side, Mah spent $215,641.60 this disclosure period, with $60,478.23 left not yet spent. The expenditures include the $8,012.33 in polling services from the Charter Public Schools PAC. Mah’s own cash payments totaled $207,629.27. That includes $110,149 across four payments to Overland Strategies LLC, based in Riverside, for mailers. Her campaign also paid $32,500 to Saguaro Strategies in Berkeley for digital advertising and another $49,250 for a digital campaign.

Of the $40,533.35 Baten Caswell raised in the most recent disclosure period, the bulk wasn’t in cash, but rather two nonmonetary contributions of campaign literature and mailings from the East Side Teachers Association Political Action Committee, valued at a combined $30,429.35.

As for expenses, Baten Caswell’s campaign spent $54,837.76 this disclosure period and had $3,533.36 left in cash on hand. The expenditures include the $31,429.76 spent by the East Side Teachers Association PAC on her behalf. Baten Caswell’s actual cash expenditures totaled $23,408.41 this period. The vast majority, $21,869.85, was paid to Whitehurst Mosher Campaign Strategy & Media in Oakland for campaign consulting. Whitehurst Mosher in turn made various payments on her behalf.

MVLA

Incumbent Phil Faillace leads the pack in fundraising in the three-way race for two seats on the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees.

Faillace’s campaign has received $9,226.99 in contributions this year, $4,194.99 of which came in the most recent campaign finance disclosure period, running Sept. 20 through Oct. 17. Laura Teksler has raised $3,107.66, $500 of which is from the most recent disclosure period. Incumbent Sanjay Dave has filed paperwork indicating he plans to raise and spend under $2,000, which means he doesn’t have to file itemized disclosures.

In the most recent disclosure period, Faillace received $4,194.99 in donations, the largest was $999 from Stephanie Dauer of Los Altos. He also received $510 from John Panzer of Mountain View and $500 from So Yong Park of Los Altos. Faillace raised $1,785.99 this period in contributions under $100 each, which don’t have to be itemized. Faillace and his wife had previously loaned the campaign $3,500, which makes up part of the $9,226.99 the campaign has raised overall.

Faillace’s campaign had expenditures totaling $5,993.60 this disclosure period. Of that, more than half is unpaid bills to Dauer, Panzer and Los Altos resident Nancy Bremeau for various campaign expenses, including yard signs, flyers and a print ad in the Town Crier. The campaign also made $2,621.53 in payments this period, including for 11,200 leaflets and for another ad in the Town Crier.

Teksler’s campaign raised $500 in the most recent disclosure period, for a total of $3,107.66 this year. That $500 came from Los Altos resident Maria Bautista. Teksler spent $1,5815.15 this disclosure period. The bulk of that was $1,368 for advertising in the Town Crier.

CUSD

Incumbent Sylvia Leong has raised the most money in the four-way race for two seats on the Cupertino Union School District Board of Education, but Sudha Kasamsetty’s campaign brought in the largest amount in the most recent disclosure period.

Leong has raised $26,185.10 this year, only $674 of which was in the last period, running Sept. 20 to Oct. 17. However, during that time she spent $17,211.16; the bulk of it, $14,243.16, was paid to San Jose Mailing for campaign literature and mailings. Leong had previously loaned her campaign $2,500, which makes up part of her $26,185.10 total raised.

Kasamsetty’s campaign raised $8,375 in the last disclosure period, for a total of $20,858.05 this year. The vast majority of the $8,375 came from Kasamsetty and her husband, who donated a total of $8,000 to the campaign in the most recent period. Overall, they have self-funded most of the campaign. In the last period, the campaign spent $12,373.25, most of which, $10,201.50, went to Papyrus Printing for mailers.

Incumbent Phyllis Vogel didn’t receive any contributions in the most recent filing period. She has entirely self-funded her campaign, loaning $6,100 to the effort earlier this year. In the most recent period, she spent $1,564, all of which went to Stewart Digital Affairs/VoterlistPro for Facebook, text message and email campaigns.

The final candidate, Wil Fluewelling, filed a form indicating that he plans to raise and spend under $2,000, meaning itemized disclosures aren’t required.

FHDA

In the race for three open seats on the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees, incumbents Laura Casas and Gilbert Wong continue to lead in fundraising after each loaning their own campaigns $20,000 earlier this year. Casas’ campaign has raised $24,234 this year, Wong’s total is $24,450. Those figures include the $20,000 loans.

In the most recent disclosure period, Wong received $2,500 in donations and Casas received $709. The bigger difference was the amount spent. Casas spent just $7.55 this past disclosure period (a total of $561.27 this year), while Wong spent $18,782.98 ($24,942.98 this year). Wong’s recent batch of expenses are largely made up of print advertising and campaign literature and mailings.

Challenger Govind Tatachari raised $3,108.88 this past period, for a total of $6,557.88 this year. That includes $1,600 Tatachari loaned his campaign this period, plus another $650 he had previously loaned. His payments totaled $5,116.88 this period, which included reimbursing Revathi Raghavan for $4,035.65 worth of yard signs and a banner he had bought earlier in the year.

Incumbent Peter Landsberger raised $600 this past period, for a total of $8,110 this year. The $600 was a combination of $450 that he donated to his campaign, plus an advertisement he purchased for the campaign, worth $150. Landsberger also loaned his campaign $5,960 earlier in the year. This past period, his only expenses were $360 for website development, plus another $50 in unitemized payments.

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