There’s no pay. They’ll likely put in hundreds of hours of work each year. And they’re bound to make some decisions that will rub people the wrong way.
And yet three local candidates have raised thousands of dollars to campaign for a seat on their school boards.
The biggest fundraiser is Scott Clifthorne, who is looking to defeat incumbent Mark Campeau for the Olympia School Board’s Director District No. 5 seat. As of Wednesday, Clifthorne, a union contract negotiator who owns a part of a recreational marijuana farm near Rochester, had reported nearly $10,000 in contributions and about $4,800 in expenditures, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission’s database.
His biggest donation was $1,000 from Washington Federation of State Employees Local 443.
Campeau, who is a realtime energy trader for Tacoma Power, said he’s surprised at the amount of money that’s been raised to try to oust him from the seat he’s held for eight years.
“To me, for a volunteer school board race, I think that’s obscene,” Campeau said.
Clifthorne said 80 percent to 85 percent of his campaign contributions have been from individual donors from around the district.
“I’ve taken it as a good sign that there’s broad support for my approach to more community engagement and more pathways for student success,” he said.
Meanwhile, Campeau registered for “mini-reporting,” which means he can report after the election, and has promised to not raise more than $5,000, or accept no more than $500 per donor.
He said he’s received about $800, with the biggest being a $500 check from the Olympia Education Association, the teachers union that endorsed him. Campeau said he’s also pitched in about $700 or $800 of his own money.
“I haven’t been actively fundraising,” Campeau said. “…I’m trying to keep it as cheap as I can.”
In North Thurston Public Schools, two current School Board members are facing off against each other.
Marcia Coppin, who has held the Director District No. 1 seat for six years, recently moved to a different area of the district. She’s now challenging incumbent Chuck Namit, who has held the Director District No. 2 seat for 24 years.
“I believe that’s the first time that’s happened in our district,” Namit said. “I must admit it is a little different in that regard. I think both of us have worked hard on the board.”
As of Wednesday, Namit, a former middle school teacher who recently retired as assistant director of the Washington State School Directors Association, reported just more than $6,100 in contributions, and about $1,675 in expenditures, according to the state.
Besides campaign signs, Namit sent out a postcard to district residents outlining his plans and goals and the people who support his campaign.
Coppin said she hasn’t actively campaigned, and hopes that her “reputation and compassion” for the district will sway voters. She worked in the district in various roles, including classroom aide, playground duty and school secretary.
She said she was caught off guard by Namit’s postcard, which she described as aggressive campaigning.
“I suppose it is a compliment that he is spending so much to run against me,” Coppin said.
In the Tumwater School District, the biggest fundraiser has been incumbent Melissa Determan Beard, who was appointed to the board in November after the retirement of longtime board member Bob Barclift. As of Wednesday, she had reported about $7,275 in contributions and nearly $2,900 in expenditures, according to the state.
Her biggest donors were attorney France Hoang of McLean, Virginia, and the Chinook Education Association, which each donated $1,000 to her campaign.
Beard, who is a senior forecast analyst with the state Office of Financial Management’s Education Research and Data Center, said most of her donations were from “amazingly generous” family members and friends.
Beard said most of her spending has been on yard signs, a mailing and campaign materials to handout while she’s doorbelling.
As of Wednesday, her opponent, Ryan Tebow, had reported about $1,550 in campaign contributions. His biggest donation was $1,000 from the WEA Chinook PAC, which is supported by the Tumwater Education Association.
Tebow said he has spent donations on Facebook advertising and some signs. He said he’s self-funded most of his campaign, and has saved money doing his own campaign website work.
“I think overall my campaign is fairly standard for a relatively low-budget school board race,” said Tebow, who is a science teacher at Lakes High School in Lakewood.