Wednesday, February 3, 2016

BOE candidates raising big bucks

Contested races for the part-time Knox County school board seats are again drawing big bucks from many of the candidates’ supporters.

At this point, though, the contests probably won’t set any local Board of Education fund-raising records.

Still, two candidates raised well over $20,000 headed into the March 1 primaries and secured donations from some of Knoxville’s biggest players, including local politicians, businessmen and developers.

As it stands, four of the nine Board of Education seats are up for election this year, but only two are contested. The part-time seat pays roughly $21,500 a year, and members are tasked with helping the superintendent oversee an annual budget of more than $420 million.

The reporting period for the financial disclosures, which were due Monday, covers July 1, 2015 through Jan. 15.

Here’s a snapshot of the races:

2nd District: In what is billed by a number of political observers as a “David and Goliath” contest, candidate Grant Standefer has raised the most of any candidate – $29,600.

His opponent, Jennifer Owen, has secured only $525, which is less than 2 percent of the total Standefer took in.

More than half of Standefer’s contributions are for more than $1,500, and come from a number of well-known local names.

For example, his supporters include Raja Jubran, CEO of Denark Construction; Pilot Corporation founder Jim Haslam and his wife, Natalie; PetSafe CEO and state economic and community development Commissioner Randy Boyd and his wife; and David Schmid of RLS Logistics.

In addition, outgoing school board member Doug Harris and his wife each donated $1,500.
Standefer has spent just under $3,200 during the filing period with most of it paid to Targeted Strategy for consulting and campaign photos.

Owen has spent $122, most of it on a voter database and postage.

5th District: Buddy Pelot has raised the second most of any candidate, bringing in $23,750. He has not spent any of it so far. Most of the same big names that contributed to Standefer also donated to Pelot.

One opponent, Susan Horn, raised $5,105 and spent $1,262. The third candidate in the race, Lori Boudreaux, has raised almost $3,300 and spent $2,340.

No one challenged Tony Norman, a retired biology teacher and former Knox County commissioner, for the 3rd District seat.

He reported raising $3,550 and spending no money, according to his finance summary. Yet, he recorded disbursements of almost $2,700, including payments for a reception and advertising.

In addition, no one challenged Mike McMillan, also a retired teacher, for the 8th District seat.

McMillan, the only incumbent seeking re-election, raised only $450, the least amount of any of the candidates.

The most amount raised and spent in a Knox County school board race, according to a WBIR 10News analysis, was in 2014 by Tracie Sanger – a whopping total of $57,200.

Prior to that, Doug Harris raised and spent $46,600 in 2012.

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