Two challengers in the race for the Palo Alto school board have amassed bigger campaign war chests than the two incumbents, according to campaign finance documents filed Thursday.
Leading the pack, Todd Collins has raised $20,460 to date, including a $5,000 loan he made himself, according to the latest finance statement, which covers the period between July 1 and Sept. 24. He also contributed a separate $5,000 to his campaign. With expenditures totaling about $6,000 and “miscellaneous” cash increases, he has about $15,000 left in his campaign coffers.
Among Collins' contributors are Steven Chanin of Palo Alto, ($1,000); Grace Mah, a Palo Alto parent and current member of the Santa Clara County Board of Education ($100 in this period, $200 to date); former Palo Alto trustees Barbara Klausner ($150), Barb Mitchell ($250) and Amado Padilla ($100); and Olenka Villarreal, founder of the Magical Bridge Playground ($200). Three Palo Alto Unified School District teachers also contributed to his campaign: Cara Stoneburner, $100; Tom Culbertson, $250; and Karen Saxena, $100.
Jennifer DiBrienza has raised about $17,617 to date, but she has spent nearly all of it, according to her finance statement, which shows an ending cash balance of $421.
She has spent most significantly — close to $7,000 — on print and online advertisements in local newspapers, including the Palo Alto Weekly, and for services from Political Data Inc., which provides data to political campaigns. Other dollars went to typical campaign expenses: kickoff events, lawn signs, flyers, T-shirts and the like.
DiBrienza also loaned her campaign $999, according to her finance statement. Her husband Jesse Dorogusker also contributed about $800 to date.
DiBrienza’s other top contributors include Michelle Sandberg, a Santa Clara Valley Medical Center pediatrician (and sister of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Michelle Sandberg), who gave $999; and Hilary Weisfeld, a board member for the Palo Alto Oshman Family JCC, who gave the same amount. Elizabeth May, vice president of schools development for Palo Alto Partners in Education (PiE), gave $500. Palo Alto Unified teachers Julie Bagniefski and Karen Kitayama contributed $250 and $100, respectively.
Incumbent Melissa Baten Caswell has raised $12,814 so far with minimal spending (about $600 on T-shirts and kickoff party expenses). Some familiar faces in the school community are among her donors: current trustees Camille Townsend ($100) and Terry Godfrey ($100); Barb Mitchell ($250) and former board candidate Catherine Crystal Foster ($200).
Current Board President Heidi Emberling trails the pack with $10,347 raised to date, according to her statement. She has spent about half of that amount so far.
Townsend also gave $100 to Emberling’s campaign, and Crystal Foster, $150. Former Palo Alto mayor Nancy Shepherd contributed $225. Two members of the district’s Enrollment Management Advisory Committee, Erin Mershon and Mark Romer, gave $100 each. Teacher Cara Stoneburner, who also contributed to Collins’ campaign, gave the same amount.
Jay Cabrera, who has committed to running as a small-contribution candidate, is not accepting donations over $100. He has not filed a campaign finance statement.
To view the candidates' campaign finance statements, visit the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters' website.
The Palo Alto Weekly has created a Storify page to capture ongoing coverage of the school-board election. To view it, go to storify.com/paloaltoweekly.