Pinellas School Board candidates Jackson and Stern far outpace others in campaign fundraising
It’s waaaay past time to analyze campaign fundraising in Pinellas County School Board races. Yes, the treasurer’s reports were due on July 6. But in the spirit of “better late than never”… here we go!
At Large District 1
Like he did in 2010 when he ran in District 7, retired psychology professor Jim Jackson is outpacing all the other school board candidates, accumulating a campaign coffer totalling $51,513 for his District 1 bid to unseat Janet Clark.
Only three other candidates seeking local office in Pinellas County this year have raised more: Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and challenger Everett Rice, with $205,395 and $327,307, respectively; and District 1 County Commissioner Neil Brickfield with $65,911.
Jackson’s challenger, retired Raymond James executive Elliott Stern has also pulled in a sizeable sum: $40,729 in monetary contributions plus $146 in in-kind contributions.
We should note that both campaign chests include substantial loans from the candidates themselves. Jackson has contributed $12,786 of his own money while Stern has put in $20,052.
Just to give a little perspective: the starting teacher pay in Pinellas County is $36,925 and the School Board salary is $40,457. Both are less than what either candidate appear poised to spend to win this thing.
Stern, who served on the board of directors for the Pinellas Education Foundation before stepping down to run, found support from many foundation leaders including retired Progress Energy executive Jack Critchfield, Ditek Corp. executive Bob McIntyre, philanthropist Gus Stavros and Kane’s Furniture CEO Irwin Novack.
Jackson’s supporters include Brickfield, state Rep. Darryl Rouson and political consultant Steve Lapinski.
Incumbent Clark, meanwhile, is trailing.
Though Clark has served two terms in the at-large District 1 seat, her $1,567 in monetary contributions show she’s in last place in fundraising -- not only in her own race, but among all nine candidates in two contested School Board races.
That total includes $657 in loans from herself.
Shelly Ladd-Gilbert, a political newcomer and Ivy Prep preschool owner, has raised more than Clark: $3,200 in cash. Ladd-Gilbert has also contributed $12,205 of her own money to the campaign, building a coffer totaling $15,405.
It’s probably not a huge surprise, but former St. Petersburg City Council member Rene Flowers has raised $12,692 in cash -- almost three times as much as the next highest fundraiser in the District 7 race, Glenton Gilzean, Jr.
Gilzean, who was appointed to the seat by Gov. Rick Scott in January following School Board member Lew William’s death, has pulled in monetary contributions totaling $4,239.
His supporters include Pinellas Education Foundation leaders Jim Myers, Bob McIntyre and Craig Sher. But of 30 contributions Gilzean’s treasurer report says he’s received, less than half come from Pinellas County. Most come from Hillsborough County and towns elsewhere. Gilzean, you recall, moved to St. Petersburg from Tampa just last November.
Flowers’ support, meanwhile, is quite St. Petersburg- and Pinellas-centric. Contributors include former state Rep. Bill Heller, the Rev. Watson Haynes, who co-chairs the Concerned Organizations for Quality Education for Black Students, Pinellas Education Foundation founder and philanthropist Gus Stavros, District 1 candidate Jim Jackson and state Rep. Darryl Rouson. Sher, it should be noted, also gave to Flowers’ campaign in February, though he gave just $150 compared with the $500 donation he made to Gilzean.
Keisha Bell, who ran unsuccessfully for the District 7 seat in 2010 against Williams and Jackson, reports contributions of $3,951.
And Thurgood Marshall Middle School paraprofessional Cassandra Jackson has raised $1,982.