Of the nearly $348,000 raised in this year’s four school board races, nearly half of those dollars are flowing into campaigns for two women looking to running for election in the Hillsboro cluster.
Mary Pierce and Becky Sharpe, two former PTO presidents fighting a neck-and-neck battle to win the school board seat, have collectively raised just short of $164,000 since April.
Pierce leads the duo having raised just shy of $100,000 in that time, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Davidson County election Commission. Sharpe has raised just under $64,000.
Campaign disclosures capturing spending and fundraising activities from July 1 to July 28 show Pierce has also outspent Sharpe. Pierce has spent close to $46,000 in the last month, while Sharpe has spent just under $29,000, both focusing most of their money on mailers and handouts.
As the races stretched through the heat of July, new money found itself into campaign war chests across all four school district races.
The Metro Nashville Education Association, which sat out of giving to school board candidates earlier this election cycle, cut checks totalling $15,000 last month. The teachers’ union gave $5,000 each to two incumbents, including board Chairwoman Cheryl Mayes, vice chairwoman Anna Shepherd, plus newcomer Sharpe in the open District 8 race.
Tennessee Parents and Teachers for Putting Students First dropped $9,000 in the Metro board races in the last month. The group, StudentsFirst, is based in Sacramento, California and led by Michelle Rhee, a polarizing figure in education who advocates for school choice. The group has an active chapter in Tennessee giving to legislative candidates, and also gave $3,000 each to school board hopefuls openly supporting charter schools, including Tyese Hunter who is taking on Mayes, Rhonda Dixon who is running against Shepherd, and Pierce who is facing off against Sharpe.
Bill DeLoache, an wealthy advocate for charter schools, also spread money around to each race’s most charter-friendly candidates. He gave the maximum an individual is allowed: $1,500 each to Bernie Driscoll, Hunter, Pierce and Dixon. His wife, Mary, also maxed out her contributions in the last reporting period to the same candidates, bringing his family’s total personal investment in this year’s board races to $12,000.
The Service Employees International Union also came out en force in July with a $3,000 donation and $1,300 worth of labor to Pam Swoner, perceived as an underdog candidate going against incumbent Shepherd and the well-funded Dixon in the McGavock cluster. The union also have $3,900 worth of volunteers to Hunter and $2,400 in labor to Sharpe last month.
MNPS Director of Schools Jesse Register also gave incumbent school board members a little more help in July by investing $250 each to Mayes and Shepherd. Last month, he gave $500 to a third incumbent, Jo Ann Brannon, and divided another $500 between Mayes and Shepherd, making his total deposit on the election $1,500.
Early voting ends Saturday, Aug. 2, and election day is Thursday, Aug. 7. Here's a voter's guide to the candidates.
And here’s a breakdown of where all the candidates’ fundraising and campaign spending stand, as of reports depicting the month of July through July 28.
|TOTAL RAISED||Raised this period||Total disbursements this period||Cash on hand|