Margaret Dolan’s campaign war chest of $106,404 is believed to be the highest fundraising showing ever for a Metro school board race, while Elissa Kim’s $81,414 campaign haul isn’t far behind.
All told, 17 candidates running for school board have collectively raked in at least $377,703, with District 9 candidate Dolan and Kim — who is challenging board chair Gracie Porter in District 5 — accounting for nearly half that figure. School board candidates vying for five seats were required Tuesday to report campaign fundraising totals from the last quarter. Some distanced themselves financially from their opponents.
In separate statements, Dolan and Kim said they are “humbled” by the support. Both benefited from financial support from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, a budding charter school crowd and a host of individual donors.
The two other fundraising winners are District 7 candidate and former Gov. Phil Bredesen aide Will Pinkston, who reported raising $52,749, and District 3 candidate Jarod DeLozier, who raised $35,555 over the last quarter, which ended June 30.
Following the quartet of Dolan, Kim, Pinkston and DeLozer — all school board outsiders hoping to snag a seat — the fundraising totals drop dramatically.
Porter, looking to fend off three opponents including the well-financed Kim, reported raising $18,324, putting her at a significant financial disadvantage. District 5 candidate John Haubenreich raised $9,365, while District 5 candidate Erica Lanier raised $1,994.
In the District 1 race between two sitting school board members, the chamber-backed Sharon Gentry reported raising $13,530, besting her opponent Ed Kindall, who raised $8,210.
Amy Frogge, mounting a strong campaign in District 9 to replace departing board member Kay Simmons, raised $17,864, far below Dolan’s haul. An attorney and active Metro school parent, Frogge cited her individual donations from teachers and downplayed the importance of money.
“I don’t think money always wins these local races,” Frogge said. “I think it has to do with hard work and getting your message out.”
District 9 candidate Bob Bogen, a former councilman, raised $3,712. Former Councilman Eric Crafton, also running in District 9, told The City Paper he postmarked his financial disclosure, but said his fundraising would be small. He said he’s planning to “self-finance” his campaign. Candidate Ronnie Osborne did not turn in a financial disclosure.
In the District 3 race to replace the departing Mark North, DeLozer outpaced Jill Speering, who raised $8,602, and Free Lee, who raised $5,050. In district 7, Pinkston, bested the SEIU-backed Al Wilkins, who reported a $14,185 fundraising total and Alan Sharp, who reported collecting $10.
Dolan, vice president of community relations at Ingram Industries, enjoys the support of Mayor Karl Dean, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and Metro Nashville Education Association, the local teachers’ union.
Kim, an executive for Teach For America, shares the support of the chamber with Porter. But Kim –– as well as Dolan and DeLozer –– has emerged as the choice for a new group of charter school backers in Nashville who have shown a willingness to reach into their wallets.
Dolan and Kim each collected $7,100 checks from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s SuccesPac, an equal amount from the pro-charter school PAC Great Public Schools, and $3,000 contributions from a PAC formed by StudentsFirst, a new education organization that former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee leads.
Great Public Schools, a PAC that a trio of affluent charter backers organized, reported raising $34,300. The PAC’s leadership consists of charter supporters Bill DeLoache, John Eason and Townes Duncan (Full disclosure: Duncan heads the board of SouthComm, parent company of The City Paper.)
In addition to maxing out $7,100 donations to Dolan and Kim, Great Public Schools gave an identical figure to DeLozier and $10,000 to hire Bass, Berry & Sims law firm to file an amicus brief in the Spurlock v. Fox federal schools rezoning case.
Among those who contributed to Great Public Schools were auto dealership owner Lee Beaman, attorney Lee Barfield, attorney Charles Bone, businessman David Ingram and former school board chair David Fox.
Fundraising by race: