With roughly two weeks until early voting in the May 1 election begins, campaign finance reports reveal stark differences in how the eight candidates running for the four school board races of the San Independent School District. Antonio fund their campaigns.
San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Staff supported four candidates to dislodge three holders on the board and fill an open seat. Financial reports from union-backed candidates show the thousands of dollars the Alliance has invested in the elections, a sign of the growing rift between the union and district leaders over how schools should be run.
But the incumbents greatly outraged their Alliance-backed opponents, most of whom received non-cash donations from the union. The current administrators have received support from local education advocates, such as HEB President and CEO Charles Butt, and some political action committees outside of the state.
The following is a breakdown of how the campaign money was distributed in the individual races. Each candidate’s campaign financial reports can be viewed here.
Outgoing Steve Lecholop raised significantly more than his opponent, Sarah Sorensen, in the District 1 race. Lecholop brought in $ 35,670 in campaign contributions while Sorensen brought in $ 9,606.
Lecholop, a lawyer, has received several large sums from PACs, including $ 10,000 from the Virginia-based Educational Equity PAC and $ 6,000 from PAC Leadership for Educational Equity-Texas. Leadership for Educational Equity is a non-partisan, non-profit leadership development organization focused on eliminating inequalities in education. In the past three months, PAC has made donations to two other Texas candidates running for the Richardson and Houston ISD school boards.
The Leadership for Educational Equity PAC campaign fundraising report submitted to the Texas Ethics Commission on Thursday shows a gap in Lecholop’s campaign contributions. The PAC report lists an additional donation of $ 5,000, but Lecholop said he never received those funds.
Butt, who is also a major education philanthropist, donated $ 2,000 to the Lecholop campaign through a PAC. Lecholop had $ 23,891 remaining in campaign contributions, as of March 22.
Sorensen received $ 1,150 in monetary contributions and $ 8,456 in in-kind donations from the PAC Alliance. The Alliance helped the COVID-19 case investigator print campaign materials and signs, in addition to phone banking and other organizational fees. Sorensen said he has $ 712 in contributions on hand.
In the open race for District 3, former city councilor Leticia Ozuna raised $ 9,000, while her Alliance-backed opponent, Judit Vega, raised around $ 1,139 in campaign contributions.
Outgoing District 3 administrator Debra Guerrero donated $ 500 to the Ozuna campaign. The digital engineer also said he received $ 1,000 each from attorney Pablo Escamilla and law firms Brown & Ortiz and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson.
Ozuna spent most of his campaign funds on billboards and election data. She reported $ 6,023.72 in outstanding loans.
Vega spent $ 8 of the $ 420 she received in monetary contributions for a PO Box. The PAC Alliance’s in-kind contributions covered the candidate’s field advertising and leadership services. This left Vega with around $ 1,131 in contributions on hand.
Candidates for the District 4 seat raised similar amounts, with incumbent Arthur Valdez bringing in $ 9,450 in campaign contributions. His opponent, Luke Amphlett, a teacher at Burbank High School, brought in around $ 9,056 in contributions, including more than $ 8,450 from PAC Alliance in-kind donations.
Like her fellow Alliance-backed candidates, Amphlett received in-kind services from the PAC in the form of campaign signs and other advertisements, phone banking and on-the-ground referral services. .
Valdez reported a donation of $ 5,000 from San Antonio Kids First PAC, which is primarily supported by Butt. Like Ozuna, Valdez also received $ 1,000 each from Escamilla and the law firms Brown & Ortiz and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson.
The incumbent reported expenses of $ 4,161, primarily for campaign posters and mailings, T-shirts and voter information. Valdez had $ 5,289 in contributions on hand.
During this time, Amphlett spent around $ 471 on t-shirts and food for the campaign volunteers. He brought in $ 605 in remaining contributions.
Former San Antonio mayor and current District 7 administrator Ed Garza has by far outstripped his Alliance-backed opponent Yasmín Parra Codina, an administrative assistant at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Garza brought in $ 27,600 in campaign contributions, including $ 2,750 from Blue Ribbon Asset Management and $ 2,000 from insurance agent Daniel Barrett. He also reported a donation of $ 500 from Guerrero and $ 1,000 each from the law firms of Brown & Ortiz and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson. Garza received an in-kind donation of $ 1,100 in garden signs from Danny Benavidez.
The incumbent reported expenses of $ 16,126, primarily spending these funds on garden signs, t-shirts and door hangers. Garza had $ 12,351 remaining in contributions and $ 5,274 in unpaid loans to himself.
Parra Codina reported over $ 17,560 in contributions, of which $ 14,890 was primarily from PAC Alliance in-kind donations. The Alliance helped fund video and website expenses, campaign materials and posters.
She reported $ 592 in expenses for t-shirts and garden signs, with $ 2,078 in contributions on hand.
The next campaign finance report is due eight days before the election.
Disclosure: The Charles Butt Foundation is a commercial member of San Antonio Report.