Ann Arbor school board candidates raise and spend money in bids for four-year seats
With the largest field of candidates for the Ann Arbor Board of Education election in recent years, there’s been serious fundraising and campaign spending, at least by some of the candidates.
With Tuesday's election for two, four-year seats looming, candidates are using tried and true methods of campaigning such as flyers and yard signs but are also turning to technology, hiring website services and data retrieval companies.
Leading the fundraising, according to required campaign finance statements filed with the Washtenaw County Clerk’s Office elections division, is Lawrence Murphy, although most of his $8,800 campaign fund is self-funded. He also leads spending, at least up to now, with $4,420 in expenses. On his heals for spending is Ahmar Iqbal, who had spent $4,235 by the filing deadline.
Three candidates - Albert Howard, Patrick Leonard and incumbent Simone Lightfoot - have not raised the minimum to trigger filing campaign finance forms. These three filed for and received waivers because they said they did not expect to raise at least $1,000, said Matt Yankee, director of elections.
Oct. 28 was the deadline to file the pre-election campaign statement for the Nov. 8 election.
Only incumbent Andy Thomas has received official financial support from teachers. The Ann Arbor Education Association’s Political Action Committee gave $1,000 to Thomas but declined to endorse a second candidate.
The teachers’ union typically endorses at least one candidate, said Brit Satchwell, president of the AAEA. The six candidates were invited to speak before an AAEA PAC committee, which made the endorsement.
“We decided that Andy Thomas, singularly, is worth our recommendation,” Satchwell said. There are other strong candidates, he said, but the committee could not reach agreement on a second endorsement, he said. In addition to the financial support, the AAEA has posted the endorsement on its website
The candidates, their financial support and campaign spending, according to filings:
Iqbal, who owns an alternative energy management and consulting company, received $5,830 in contributions and has spent $4,234. He listed a $1,500 loan he made to himself. Iqbal was the only other candidate to receive financial support from a political action committee, with $100 from the Singh PAC in West Bloomfield. He has strong support from the medical community, with more than $2,300 in donations coming from physicians inside and outside Washtenaw County. And he received $100 each from Joe and Beth Fitzsimmons, state co-chairs of the campaign to elect Rick Snyder governor.
On the spending side, Iqbal has spent $2,440 on leaflets and markers, $718 on yard signs, $300 for Web services and another nearly $300 on voter data.
At $8,800, Murphy, the owner of a small automotive supply company, has raised the largest campaign funds, but that includes $7,500 from himself and a $990 loan from Jeanine Diller, his wife. He’s spent $450 on Web graphics and $2,382 on flyer printing with another $720 on lawn signs.
Thomas, a retired health care administrator, raised $2,580 and spent $1,732. He received financial support from teachers and from other school board members, including Glenn Nelson ($100) and Irene Patalan ($100). As of mid-October, Thomas had spent nearly $1,500 of his own money on pens, pencils, stamps and other supplies and filed a separate report Oct. 27 showing he had made a $912 in-kind loan to the campaign. Also, Steven Norton, an organizer of Ann Arbor Parents for Schools, a nonprofit citizen advocacy group, made a $438 in-kind contribution for flyer printing. Thomas has spent more than $1,300 on yard signs and another $366 on flyers.
This is Howard’s first Ann Arbor school board election, but he ran for president in 2008 in the New Hampshire Primary, when he claimed that God told him he would be president. Leonard, at 22 the youngest candidate, works in marketing and research. And Lightfoot, who was appointed to a vacant seat in 2009 and elected to a one-year term last year, is a sustainability and climate change consultant.
For a complete list of candidate contributions and expenditures, click here.