With ten candidates vying for three seats on the Board of the West Contra Costa Unified School District, the campaign dialogue ranged across a wide variety of issues, including charter schools, teacher retention and the bond program. But in the end it was the best-financed candidates who prevailed in Tuesday’s election.
The three winners, Liz Block, Valerie Cuevas and Madeline Kronenberg (two new candidates and an incumbent, respectively) benefited from a combined total of over $453,000 this election cycle, compared to a total of $93,606 raised by the seven other candidates, according to the latest campaign filings.
Block received a little over $170,000 in support funding from two PACs, Education Matters and the California Charter Schools Association. Additionally, Block had a total of about $44,000 in other contributions to her campaign. Block finished first with 19.54% of the vote.
Cuevas received about $121,000 in support funding – also from Education Matters and the California Charter Schools Association. Cuevas had a total of about $17,000 in other contributions to her campaign. Cuevas finished third with 13.24% of the vote.
Kronenberg received just over $100,000 in contributions to her campaign, with the majority of these contributions coming from private construction companies.
Kronenberg was also the target of the largest amount of opposition spending. The two PACs supporting Cuevas and Block spent nearly $144,000 in opposition targeting her. Kronenberg finished in second place with 15.43% of the vote.
Candidate Mister Phillips ran closely behind Cuevas, finishing with 11.77% of the vote. The race’s other incumbent, Elaine Merriweather finished in sixth place with 9.07% of the vote. The remainder of the candidates on the ballot each finished with less than 10% of the vote.
At least on election night, the newly elected school board members praised the cooperative spirit and pledged to working with each other and the rest of the school board.
Said Liz Block; “The biggest takeaway is how many people really want change in the district and how many people have worked together to do that.”
After her own victory looked secure, Cuevas said, “Day one, I look forward to building the partnerships that it’s going to take to make sure we’re all focused on kids.”
“We’re going to go and continue with what we’ve been doing,” said Kronenberg.
In a statement to Richmond Confidential, losing candidate Ayana Kirkland Young said “I’m very concerned about the results — the fact that money had a lot to do with the results — that is Liz and Madeline had the most money spent and came in first and second.”