More than 60 candidates are running for seven seats on the new Detroit school board — and most are running their campaigns on a shoestring.
A Chalkbeat review of state and county campaign finance records shows that just 15 candidates seeking seats on the crucial new board reported receiving campaign contributions as of Oct. 23, the most recent date for which numbers were available.
That includes several candidates who dipped into their personal savings, spending thousands of their own dollars on their campaigns.
The totals suggest that most candidates are going into election day without much of a chance to influence voters in a city-wide race that will define the future for a new district. Board members will be the first locally elected officials to control Detroit schools after years of state-appointed emergency managers — but their campaign spending suggests that most candidates have not had a chance to connect with the nearly 700,000 Detroiters they will represent.
Candidates who have the backing of labor unions, which gave money to candidates in addition to spending thousands on union-led mailings and ads, are likely to have the farthest reach.
Just six candidates raised more than $10,000, including Angelique Peterson-Mayberry who raised the most: $57,980 to pay for radio ads, campaign materials, consulting fees, and yard signs.
Nearly all of Peterson-Mayberry’s funds — $47,500 — came from a political action committee associated with UAW-Ford, the union where she works as the community relations director.
Peterson-Mayberry also benefitted from another $57,500 that the UAW-Michigan PAC reported spending independently to boost her campaign as well as nearly $12,000 that was spent by a PAC connected with the American Federation of Teachers union. The independent expenditures are designed to supplement the spending of the campaign itself.
Here’s a list of other candidates who reported raising funds:
The radio host and retired school superintendent reported raising $31,000 — nearly every penny from himself. A total of $500 came from four other donors.
The CEO of a real estate and housing development nonprofit and a former investment banker reported raising $23,792 including $2,857 from herself and $2,000 from former city emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who she worked with as an advisor during Detroit’s bankruptcy. She also picked up money from two political action committees: $1,000 from a PAC associated with UAW-Michigan and $500 from one associated with the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The retired former head of Detroit nonprofits reported raising $17,539 including nearly $10,000 from herself and her husband. She also reported receiving $2,000 from political action committees — $1,000 from the UAW-Michigan PAC and $500 each from the Michigan Building and Construction Trades PAC and the Chamber of Commerce PAC.
The former Detroit high school principal reported raising $14,383 including $8,799 from herself — most of which she identified as a loan — and $500 from a PAC associated with the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, which endorsed her.
The director of community relations and corporate giving at Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures reported raising $14,114 mostly from individual donors including six who gave $1,000 or more. She also picked up $500 from the Chamber of Commerce PAC.
The retired former CEO of Detroit Receiving Hospital reported contributions totaling $10,725 mostly from individuals including from four people who wrote checks of $1,000 or more. She also got $500 from a PAC associated with the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and benefitted from a nearly $12,000 independent expenditure from the teachers union PAC.
The head of an education consulting firm raised $3,810 including $1,000 from UAW Region 1A. The rest of her contributions came from small individual donors. She also benefitted from a nearly $12,000 independent expenditure from the teachers union PAC.
The pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Detroit reported receiving $5,967 including $1,835 from himself and his wife and a $150 contribution from a political action committee associated with the Miller Canfield lawfirm. The rest was from individual donors.
Phillip Caldwell II:
The former teacher and administrator who now works as an educational consultant reported raising $2,915, mostly from small individual donors.
The head of the old DPS school board and a retired personal banker was the sole contributor to his campaign. He reported giving himself $2,141.
A member of the old DPS school board, Simpson reported raising $1,200 including $1,000 from the Operating Engineers Local 324 and $100 from the Michigan Democratic Future PAC.
The vice president of the old DPS school board and a local college professor received $975 in contributions — all from a man named Roger Short.
The retired Wayne County Commission lawyer reported loaning his campaign $500 in cash and spending another $702 of his own money on campaign expenses.
The clinical lab scientist reported receiving one $100 contribution — from herself.
Two candidates who have not yet reported individual campaign contributions were the beneficiaries of spending by the American Federation of Teachers whose Michigan political action committee reported spending nearly $12,000 on each of the candidates it endorsed including Keith Whitney and Misha Stallworth.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools. This material is posted on Daily Detroit with the permission of Chalkbeat.