Atlanta school board candidates tally up campaign donations

All nine Atlanta Board of Education seats will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot, with 22 candidates running for those spots. JOHN SPINK/AJC FILE PHOTO



All nine Atlanta Board of Education seats will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot, with 22 candidates running for those spots. JOHN SPINK/AJC FILE PHOTO

Atlanta school board Chairman Jason Esteves has raised the most money so far among 22 candidates running for nine seats, according to a review of recent campaign contribution reports.

Esteves’ campaign has pulled in just over $50,000 so far as candidates gear up for a final push before the Nov. 2 election.

The Atlanta Board of Education chairman, a 38-year-old attorney, is completing his fourth year as the group’s leader. He’s in a three-way race to retain the at-large seat 9 that he was first elected to in 2013.

”Campaigns need resources to succeed. Our campaign is fortunate to have a broad base of financial support from people across the City. We have also been endorsed by organizations that support teachers, bus drivers, and community organizing efforts in Georgia,” Esteves said, in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Notable contributors to his campaign include the Washington, D.C.-based organization Democrats for Education Equity; Nina Gupta, general counsel for Atlanta Public Schools; and Greg Giornelli, president of Purpose Built Schools Atlanta, which operates several schools through a contract with the district.

Esteves’ challengers D’Jaris “DJ” James and Jason B. Allen have raised $3,730 and just over $14,000, respectively.

James, 33, a human resources consultant, said she’s relying on her campaign message spreading through word of mouth. She said she’s heard from voters who are glad to have a choice when casting a ballot.

In 2017, Esteves ran unopposed.

“My campaign has had its challenges with fundraising, but I have initiated several grassroots efforts to WIN this campaign,” James said, in a written statement.

Allen, a 39-year-old teacher at a Clayton County charter school, said he was unfamiliar with fundraising as a first-time candidate. He said he’s found that donors don’t make school board races a high priority.

“My campaign has always been focused on engaging and fighting for voters that are underrepresented. My campaign is grassroots, targeted and aligned to the challenging APS issues that disenfranchise students and parents,” he said in a written statement. “Having a larger campaign budget would be great, however, my conversations at each door I knock reveal to me change is wanted and needed.”

The deadline for filing the next round of campaign contribution reports is next week.

Total campaign contributions to date for Atlanta school board candidates:

District 1, southeast Atlanta

Katie Howard: $30,667

Wykeisha Howe: $3,535

District 2, central Atlanta

Aretta Baldon (incumbent): $15,706

Keisha Carey: no filing found

Bethsheba Rem: no filing found

District 3, east Atlanta

Michelle Olympiadis (incumbent): $505

District 4, north Atlanta

Mikayla Arciaga: $10,915

Jennifer McDonald: $17,420

District 5, west Atlanta

Raynard Johnson: no filing found

Erika Mitchell (incumbent): $22,920

District 6, south Atlanta

Eshé Collins (incumbent): $20,890

Patreece Hutcherson: no filing found

At-large Seat 7

Patricia Crayton: $150

Tamara Jones: $30,474

Royce Mann: $33,659

Stephen Spring: $2,001

Kanesha Venning: $22,353

At-large Seat 8

Cynthia Briscoe Brown (incumbent): $29,991

Keedar Whittle: $10,400

At-large Seat 9

Jason Allen: $14,026

Jason Esteves (incumbent): $50,197

D’Jaris James: $3,730