Austin Kids First Throws Money into AISD Races

New pro-reform PAC drops $30,000 behind candidates

Austin Kids First Throws Money into AISD Races

Austin Kids First, the new PAC on the education block, has followed up its Austin ISD endorsements with big sums of cash behind its favored trustee election candidates.

There's broad suspicion that the supposedly grass roots group is simply astroturf for pro-Reform organizations (if you don't know why that's bad, read our interview with education expert Diane Ravitch). Some suspect that's why it's getting behind candidates most likely to support Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's push for charters and single sex schools.

So who is funding the new group? According to their filings with the state, realtor Sandy Gottesman has thrown in $5,000. So has Silicon Labs co-founder David Welland, and if that name sounds familiar, it's because last month he was revealed as one of the big backers of At-Large Place 8 candidate Mary Ellen Pietruszynski, who is employed by SL cofounder Nav Sootch over at the Sootch foundation. After him their biggest contributor is landscaping and janitorial services businessman Rex Gore, who so far has given them $4,000. He's been a big GOP donor this year too, throwing thousands at Reps. Paul Workman and Jim Landtroop, House candidate-elect Stephanie Klick, and Texas Senate hopeful/Tea Party ideologue Donna Campbell.

One education regular has thrown some cash their way: Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce education guru Drew Scheberle gave the PAC $500.

Here's the seat-by-seat breakdown (incumbents marked with a *)

District 2

Candidate Total Raised Total Spent Cash on Hand
Sam Guzman* $14,625 $6,881.22 $7,743.78
Jayme Mathias $12,190.28 $13,454.60 $6,660.46

After trailing Mathias badly last month, Guzman got back in the game, courtesy of $12,500 from AKF. That accounted for over 80% of his total fundraising. Still, even with that, the pair were fairly neck-and-neck in cash pulled in, and basically even on what's left in the coffers.

District 3

Candidate Total Raised Total Spent Cash on Hand
Christine Brister* $0 $0 $0
Ann Teich $7,800 $2,969.23 $6,830.77

With Brister's campaign in suspended animation, Teich's main task is to make sure everyone knows she's the only active candidate. It looks like she'll be well positioned to pay off her $2,000 campaign loan to herself and still have the beginnings of a war chest if she wants to run again in 2016.

District 5

Candidate Total Raised Total Spent Cash on Hand
Amber Elenz $15,790.26 $16,146.60 $21,567.47
Charlie Jackson $1,625 $3,463.75 $1,102.25

Tough times for Jackson, who was only kept afloat by a small donation from the Education Austin PAC: Progressives may also start to get squeamish about seeing two Del Valle trustees - former board member Rich Franklin and current member Debbie Russell - backing his run. However, it will be interesting to see if Elenz's $5,000 in checks from AKF is a plus or a minus in this race, and whether it's a sign of being too foundation-and-reform-friendly.

At-Large Place 8

Candidate Total Raised Total Spent Cash on Hand
Gina Hinojosa $33,402 $48,518.80 $13,249.23
Mary Ellen Pietruszynski $22,450.74 $35,079.79 $27,068.99

Continuing the Silicon Labs connection we covered last month, Brad Fluke (SI's fifth employee) put $1,000 into Pietruszynski. However, her biggest contribution came in the form of two big checks from AKF.

Biggest donors
Austin Kids First: $30,081 ($12,500 each to Pietruszynski and Guzman, $5,081 to Elenz.)
Education Austin PAC: $17,000 ($9,000 to Hinojosa, $5,000 to Teich, $2,000 to Mathias, $1,000 to Charlie Jackson)
Texas State Teachers Association PAC: $3,000 ($2,500 to Hinojosa, $500 to Mathias.)

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Austin ISD, AISD, Meria Carstarphen, Election 2012, Education Austin, Amber Elenz, Charlie Jackson, Gina Hinojosa, Sam Guzman, Jayme Mathias, Mary Ellen Pietruszynski, Debbie Russell, Del Valle ISD, Rich Franklin

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