Summit school board candidates raise over $30K in campaign funds |

Summit school board candidates raise over $30K in campaign funds

Candidates for the Summit School District Board of Education are seated on the stage in the Summit High School auditorium Oct. 18 for a nonpartisan election forum hosted by the Summit Daily News and Education Foundation of the Summit.
Lindsey Toomer/Summit Daily News


So far this election cycle, candidates for the Summit School District Board of Education have raised a total of $31,893.44 and spent about one-third of that.

Those figures are in stark contrast to previous election years, when little to no money was raised by candidates.

In the 2019 school board election, a total of $611 was raised by only three of the 10 candidates. In the 2017 election, no money was raised and the election was canceled because there were only three candidates for three seats. There was also no money raised in the 2015 board election.

This year, nine candidates are running for four seats, and none has received a donation greater than $500.

The 4 For the Kids candidates — Kim Langley, Pat Moser, Manuela Michaels and Danielle Surette — have raised a collective $26,456.75, about 83% of the total of all candidates. Nearly 80% of the group’s donations came directly from Summit County residents.

Langley said she thinks the group has been successful in fundraising because parents in the community are frustrated and are ready for a change. She said the slate is a grassroots, parent-driven campaign.

“We really haven’t had to work really hard, honestly,” Langley said. “There’s a lot of frustrated parents out there, and so they’re willing to give us their money and support us.”

Each of the 4 For the Kids candidates spent $1,592 on direct mailers, which were sent to about 7,000 Summit County residents. Moser spent an additional $1,625 on the mailers, bringing the group’s total spent on the direct mail campaign to just under $8,000. Langley said the four candidates are splitting campaign costs evenly.

“We’re trying to reach everybody in the county, everybody that has voted previously in off-year elections,” Langley said.

Langley said she and fellow 4 For the Kids candidates thought raising money was the best way to share their message. She said since they don’t have any political affiliations, spending the money on mailers and text messages is how they can spread the word.

Johanna Kugler has raised the most of any incumbent candidate, but she said she hasn’t necessarily been asking folks for money. Of her total of $1,279, she put in $500 herself, $225 came from Summit County locals, and $554 came from friends and family out of state. Kugler said she didn’t plan on doing a ton of fundraising, rather she wants to continue communicating with and getting to know folks in the community.

“Really, I’ve just been focusing more on talking to people and listening to people, and then if money comes available, that’s great,” Kugler said.

Kugler said she wants to listen to as many people as possible while still being her authentic self while campaigning and fundraising.

“I don’t want it to be, ‘Hey, I’m only going to talk to you right now because I’m campaigning,’” Kugler said. “I really want to still be who I am and answer any questions. … That to me is grassroots, and it’s based on a lot of the work that I’ve already done.”

To Kugler, it’s hard to compare this year’s school board election to past years because of the different atmosphere this year. She said she hopes high amounts of fundraising will get more people out to vote and share their voice.

Chris Guarino has raised $2,407.69, a majority of which has come from out-of-state family and friends. He said there isn’t a single out-of-state donor who he doesn’t know personally. He added that he generally doesn’t like the amount of money that goes into political campaigning nationally.

“I have strong feelings that we should get the money out of politics altogether,” Guarino said. “But I was very fortunate to have friends and family who know me very well, and they know my morals and my beliefs and my commitment to this school district, and they chose to support me.”

Guarino said it’s unfortunate that those with the most money tend to get the most attention but that it’s necessary to raise funds due to the current state of campaigning.

“When folks aren’t paying attention and they get the ballot, it’s a nonpartisan race, and you just see names,” Guarino said. “If you haven’t watched the videos and read the articles and the letters to the editor, you don’t know who’s coming from where, and I think name recognition really matters.”

According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Tracer website, Toby Babich filed all of his expense reports Monday, Oct. 25, missing deadlines on Sept. 7, Sept. 20, Oct. 5 and Oct. 18. A complaint was opened against him Oct. 5 for “alleged failure to file multiple required reports to Tracer.”

Babich wrote in an email Monday that he has spent $181.67 of his own money on a website and campaign cards and has not taken any donations because he doesn’t believe school elections should have political or financial influence.

Incumbent Kate Hudnut has raised $825, with $725 coming from within Summit County and $100 coming from elsewhere in Colorado. Hudnut also took out a loan of $500 for campaigning. Incumbent Lisa Webster has raised a total of $425, $200 of which came from herself and the rest of which came from Summit County residents.

All candidates have paid for some type of website and campaign card or mailer. Most other expenditures listed are fees charged by administrative sites, such as PayPal or Anedot.

Taylor Sienkiewicz/Summit Daily News

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