A group of business-backed candidates in the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education election are far out-fundraising their opponents, according to campaign finance reports.
Candidates Courtney Jackson for District 7, Crystal Tapia-Romero for District 5 and Danielle Gonzales for District 3 are among the top earners for the reporting period, which covers funds raised from Dec. 6, 2019, to Oct. 12. All three are among a slate of candidates supported by the New Mexico chapter of NAIOP’s political action committee and the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.
The reports show that many of the larger contributions to Jackson, Tapia-Romero and Gonzales are coming from business owners and groups themselves. The result is thousands of dollars and multiple donations of more than $1,000 flowing into an election that has typically been heavily influenced by the Albuquerque Teachers Federation union.
Six of the current seven members of the school board were endorsed by the union.
This election, the union is endorsing an entirely different slate of candidates from the business groups.
The flow of cash to candidates not backed by the union comes at a time when many in the business community have expressed an interest in the election.
This is also the first Board of Education election to take place in a consolidated election at the same time as a mayoral race.
Jackson, Tapia-Romero and Gonzales have raised a total of $48,897, $40,128 and $39,785, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Albuquerque Teachers Federation-backed candidates Julie Brenning for District 7, Josefina Dominguez for District 6, Uche Ohiri for District 5 and Jinx Baskerville for District 3 have raised a total of $31,793, $14,528, $9,950 and $14,765, respectively.
In each of those campaigns the teacher’s union itself has contributed $5,000.
The candidates with the most contributions this year far exceed contribution totals made to candidates in the previous two election cycles.
In 2019, Peggy Muller-Aragon for District 2 raised the most with $26,950 in campaign contributions, and in 2017 the top amount raised was $21,204 for Elizabeth Armijo for District 6.
Other notes from the campaign finance reports:
• New Mexico Early Learning Academy, which is owned by Tapia-Romero, contributed the largest amount across all four races with $7,000 contributed to Tapia-Romero’s election campaign.
• Arthur Carrasco, who is running for the District 6 seat, raised $10,500 from five contributors, including himself.
• The Republican Party of Bernalillo County contributed $2,000 each to Tapia-Romero and Jackson – the largest amount given by a political party in each of the four races.
• Current board president David Peercy donated $1,000 to Brenning, who is running to replace him for the District 7 seat. Peercy has also endorsed Brenning.
• The majority of Gonzales’ contributions, about $24,000, came from out-of-state donors, including a $5,200 donation from venture capitalist Arthur Rock who notably was an early investor in Intel and Apple. Rock was also a donor to Gonzales’ former employer, the Aspen Institute. About $14,300 of her campaign funds came from New Mexico donors.
• Both Ohiri and Baskerville’s only contribution above $1,000 came from the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, which contributed $5,000 to each of their campaigns.