In a contentious school board race of six candidates jostling to win three at-large seats, two candidates have far out-fundraised the others.
As of Sept. 30, Jennifer Shanoski and Reichi Lee have each raised over $30,000, far out fundraising the other candidates, but have taken different paths. Lee has raised more money from donors, while Shanoski, who is using public financing, which limits donations to $60 and matches them six to one (but only for donations from Berkeley), has maxed out the city’s matching funds.
It’s the first year that public financing is available to candidates for school board, though it was an option for those running for city council or mayor beginning in 2018. The program is intended to level the playing field for candidates for office.
Just two of the six candidates for school board, Shanoski and Mike Chang, have chosen public financing, as opposed to most of the candidates for city council. School board candidates not using public financing — Lee, Tatiana Guerreiro Ramos, and Ka’Dijah Brown, the only incumbent in the race — can receive donations of up to $250, but don’t get any funds matched by the city.
The largest single infusion of money has come from the California Federation of Teachers’ campaign committee, which has spent $22,689 on mailers on behalf of Chang, Shanoski and Brown. (Independent expenditure groups can’t contact or coordinate with candidates.) Berkeley Parents Union has spent $1,033 so far, putting up signs supporting Lee and Brown throughout the city.
Brown, who has earned the endorsement of the Mayor Jesse Arreguín and the entire city council and school board, has raised the second-lowest amount of money so far (repeat candidate Norma Harrison hasn’t raised a penny). Thirteen people have donated a total of $1,000 to Brown’s campaign, compared with the more than 200 people who donated to Shanoski and Lee’s campaigns. (In 2018, Brown raised $22,000.)
Altogether, the school board candidates have raised over $57,000 directly from contributions, most of which they are spending on getting the word out about their campaigns through yard signs and mailings.
The numbers in this story are based on the last filing deadline for candidates — Sep. 30. Since then, several candidates have ramped up their fundraising, but we won’t know by how much until the next filing deadline of Oct. 27.
Incumbent Ka’Dijah Brown has raised a fraction of the funds that other competitive candidates have raised. She has $2,189 to spend so far, including $525 leftover from her 2018 campaign and $1,740 based on donations from 13 donors this year, though she is getting more exposure from the $7,563 worth of mailings on her behalf.
Most (82%) of the funds Brown has raised have come from Berkeley residents, many of whom are elected officials, including school board directors Ty Alper and Laura Babitt, councilmember Kate Harrison; and Stefan Elgstrand, the legislative aide to Mayor Jesse Arreguín, who is also running for rent board.
Chang has raised $16,881 to spend on his campaign, $4,101 of which has come from 64 donors contributing no more than $60 each. The rest has come from the city’s matching fund program.
Chang has raised 72% of his funds from Berkeley residents and 13% of the funds from eight donors out of state. Attorneys, executive directors, teachers and professors top Chang’s list of donors.
His donors include Gabriel Medina, the executive director of La Raza Community Resource Center; Gladys Stout, a leader within the parent group Latinos Unidos de Berkeley; Amy Chen, who co-founded an AAPI parent group; Valerie Kratzer, the development coordinator at Berkeley Public Schools Fund; councilmember Sophie Hahn; and school board directors Ty Alper, Ana Vasudeo and Julie Sinai.
The California Federation of Teachers’ election committee has spent $7,563 on mailings on Chang’s behalf.
Tatiana Guerreiro Ramos
Guerreiro Ramos has raised $4,350 to date from 27 donors who contributed an average of $155. She has raised about the same amount of money from contributions as Chang, but she has chosen not to use public financing and, without the city’s matching funds, has far less money than him to spend on her campaign.
She has raised 65% of her money from Berkeley residents. The rest has come from donors in other Bay Area and southern California cities, including Albany and Culver City, among others. Half of her donors are retired.
Her donors include Lisa Miller, who runs a tutoring company called Classroom Matters with Guerreiro Ramos.
With over 230 donors, Lee has raised close to $35,000, more than double the amount that anyone else running for office in Berkeley has raised directly from donors this year.
Forty-five percent of the funds have come from Berkeley residents and 85% from donors around the Bay Area. Lee raised her remaining funds from residents in the Los Angeles area (5%), a few inland California cities and out of state. Her average donation amount is $135. Over a third of her donations come from retired people and attorneys.
Her donors include Sandra Stier, one of the lead plaintiffs that challenged federal law preventing gay marraige; Sharline Chiang and Amy Chen, who co-founded an AAPI parent group; school board vice president Laura Babitt; Mark Humbert, who is running for city council; Alfred Twu, who is running for AC Transit board; and councilmembers Terry Taplin and Rashi Kesarwani.
Shanoski has $32,000 to spend on her campaign so far, $12,000 of which she has raised from 201 donors who have contributed no more than $60 each. She has also received $20,000 from the city’s public matching program.
Half of Shanoski’s money has come from Berkeley residents, and 90% from people in the Bay Area. Many of her donors work in education as teachers or professors or are retired.
Her donors include Mayor Jesse Arreguín; councilmembers Rigel Robinson, Terry Taplin, Kate Harrison and Sophie Hahn; city auditor Jenny Wong; school board directors Ty Alper, Ana Vasudeo and Julie Sinai; Mark Humbert, who is running for Berkeley city council; Cathy Campbell, the former president of Berkeley Federation of Teachers; Stefan Elgstrand, the legislative aide to Mayor Jesse Arreguín, who is also running for rent board; Alysse Castro, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools-elect; and Gladys Stout, a leader within the parent group Latinos Unidos de Berkeley.
The California Federation of Teachers has spent $7,563 on mailings on behalf of Shanoski’s campaign.