Campaign cash flows to Atlanta school board candidates

2:39 p.m Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017 Education
Charlie Stadtlander, left, and incumbent Cynthia Briscoe Brown are vying for the Atlanta school board at-large District 8 seat. The two candidates reported the most campaign money headed into the final weeks of election season.  AJC file photos by Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com.

Atlanta school board candidates are pulling in cash as they push through the final weeks of the campaign season. 

All nine school board seats appear on the Nov. 7 ballot. 

Two incumbents -- Jason Esteves and Nancy Meister -- are uncontested in their reelection bids. Four incumbents face challengers. Three seats are wide open because the incumbents are seeking other elected offices. 

Not surprisingly, the races for the two contested at-large seats are among those most awash in campaign cash. In those and other races, candidates have collected money from teachers unions and outside groups.

The candidate with the biggest reported war chest is Charlie Stadtlander, who is running against incumbent Cynthia Briscoe Brown and Ben Stone for the at-large post 8. 

He reported a balance on hand of $88,552, thanks largely to recent loans he made to himself of nearly $87,000, according to campaign finance reports that were due earlier this month. 

His total contributions, including the loans, total more than $103,000, he reported. 

The chief executive officer of the consulting firm Stadtlander and Co. reported campaign contributions from the Atlanta Federation of Teachers and the national union American Federation of Teachers. 

Briscoe Brown has raised $71,874, including $45,798 on hand available for use before Election Day. She’s received financial support from fellow board members Esteves, Meister, and board member Matt Westmoreland, the current District 3 representative who is running for city council. 

Stone filed paperwork indicating he doesn’t intend to raise more than $2,500 for his campaign. 

In the other contested at-large race, two candidates have emerged with a significant cash advantage in the five-way battle for the open post 7 seat. Attorney Kandis Wood Jackson reported the most cash on hand, $43,988. She raised $52,734 so far, including money from the Washington-based Leadership for Educational Equity, the political arm of Teach For America. She is a former TFA teacher. 

Trailing close behind is John Wright, with a reported $37,080 on hand. He raised $53,076 so far, including a recent $20,000 loan to himself. As a program manager for the architectural engineering firm AECOM, Wright manages school construction projects for DeKalb County School District. 

That at-large post will be vacated by Atlanta school board chairman Courtney English, who is running instead for city council. 

In the cash-competitive east Atlanta’s District 3 race, three of the five candidates seeking board member Westmoreland’s seat have pulled in more than $30,000 in total donations. 

Adzua Agyapon, an educator at the public charter school KIPP STRIVE Primary, has raised about $37,087, including money from Leadership for Educational Equity. Agyapon is a former TFA teacher. 

Also in District 3, Lewis Cartee has raised $35,446, including a recent $14,000 loan to himself. He is a territory sales manager for Mohawk Industries. 

Rashida Winfrey, who works in financial services, has raised $38,678. 

The president of the American Federation of Teachers donated to District 3 candidate Michelle Olympiadis-Constantinides, who raised $8,022 so far. 

In southeast Atlanta District 1, incumbent Leslie Grant has raised $26,120 and has more than $15,000 still in her coffers. Her opponent, Adeoti Oguntoye, has raised $6,568, of which $4,755 remains. Among his contributors is the American Federation of Teachers. 

Two of the three candidates in central Atlanta District 2 reported contributions. Incumbent Byron Amos has raised $10,648, including money from Esteves’ campaign and Westmoreland. Tony Lamair Burks II has received $6,170, including a $700 loan from himself and support from the Georgia Federation of Teachers. 

Only one candidate reported raising a five-figure amount in the six-way contest to represent west Atlanta’s District 5, the seat held by Steven Lee. Lee is running for Fulton County Board of Commissioners. Jatisha Marsh leads in total contributions with $23,350, including a loan to herself of about $2,659. 

In south Atlanta District 6, Patreece Hutcherson, who sued the school district last week over a charter rule that would require her to quit her job with another district should she win the election, has raised $10,545. She also reported a $1,511 loan to herself. Incumbent Eshé Collins said late last week her campaign encountered an error in filing her disclosure report electronically. She said she planned to file a paper copy of the report. Two other candidates in that race indicated they don’t plan to raise significant campaign cash.

Voters can hear from school board candidates at a 7 p.m. Wednesday forum at the Willis A. Sutton Middle School main campus. More event information is available here. 

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