Cash: two candidates lead the pack


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

In the field of five candidates running for West Sacramento’s school board right now, only two have thus far reported raising a substantial amount of money in campaign donations. And each of those two candidates is benefiting from support by groups that some people might consider “special interests.”

SARAH  KIRBY-GONZALEZ: Campaign shows support from various teachers’ unions (News-Ledger photo)

Campaign shows support from various teachers’ unions
(News-Ledger photo)


FRANCISCO CASTILLO Contributors include StudentsFirst executives and charter schools proponents (News-Ledger photo)

Contributors include StudentsFirst executives and charter schools proponents
(News-Ledger photo)

According to financial disclosure forms due last Friday at the Yolo County Elections Department, Francisco Castillo leads the pack in raising money to campaign for a school board seat on March 5.

Through Feb. 16, he reported having raised $36,730. This total includes $15,000 from “Parents and Teachers for Putting StudentsFirst,” a school reform organization that looks favorably at charter schools, and $10,000 from the “California Charter Schools Assoc Advocates.”

Castillo – himself an executive with StudentsFirst – said the contributions won’t push him to give special treatment to charter schools or to applications to form charter schools.

“I think I’ve been pretty clear before,” he said. “I support better options for parents, whether it’s charter schools or public schools.”

He added that while he supports charter schools, he also believes that if a charter school doesn’t perform, it should be shut down. The campaign donations won’t budge him, said Castillo.

“When making a decision on the board, one of the things I will consider is how to look at all sides of an issue – whether it’s from the teachers, students, charter school advocates or non-charter school advocates.”

Meanwhile, opponent Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez reports having raised $10,465 (not counting donations received after the most recent reporting deadline). She’s a teacher in the Folsom-Cordova school district.

Among her receipts are about $2,000 from the teachers’ union here in Washington Unified School District, $5,500 from the Sacramento City Teachers Association PAC (political action committee), $2,000 from the Twin Rivers United Educators PAC and $1,000 from the Los Rios Federation of Teachers PAC. This list may include some donations received after her campaign fund snapshot that showed $10,465 in funds.

Kirby-Gonzalez was asked whether support from teachers’ unions would influence her decisions as a school board member – for example, when the school board was negotiating with its teachers on a labor contract.

“No,” she answered. “While I have money from the teachers and I’m happy to have their support, certainly this is not about the teachers, it’s about the students. . . Absolutely, I’ll keep money out of it, of course. There may be times I would have to bow out (of a decision) if the attorney says to.”

Also on the list of financial supporters for Kirby-Gonzalez are contributors such as Rebecca J. Lovally, a CSUS professor, $2,000; Sunderland for School Board 2012 committee, $1,000; and the campaign committee for 2012 school board candidate Coby Pizotti, which gave her $350.

Other people on the list of contributors to Castillo’s campaign include Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, who gave $500; Cabaldon’s campaign committee, which gave $2,500; David Crane, lecturer on public policy at Stanford, $2,500; several executives at StudentsFirst including Founder and CEO Michelle Rhee, who gave $500; the American Sikh PAC, $1,000; and Donna Lucias of Lucas Public Affairs, $1,000.

  Besides Castillo and Kirby-Gonzalez, the others in the race are Katherine Gales, Linh Nguyen and Nicholas Turney. Each of those three reported accepting little or no campaign money from others as of February 16.

Fundraising totals for some candidates will be revised as they file reports later in the campaign season.

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