Heavy spending pays off in school board race

The winners: Liz Block, Madeline Kronenberg and Valerie Cuevas take WCCUSD Board seats. (Photos by Candese Charles and Hannah Lawson)

The winners: Liz Block, Madeline Kronenberg and Valerie Cuevas take WCCUSD Board seats. (Photos by Candese Charles and Hannah Lawson)

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.”

8 Comments

  1. CHEVRON’s PAC Moving Forward also backed: MADELINE KRONENBERG AND PETER CHAU FOR WEST CONTRA COSTA SCHOOL BOARD; RICHMOND WORKING FAMILIES FOR JOBS 2014, IN SUPPORT OF
    http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1372270

  2. Rosie

    Chevron contributed significantly to the campaigns’ of Madeline Kronenberg and Peter Chau. How come this isn’t mentioned in the article? Check out the Chevron PAC Richmond Working Families for Jobs 2014

    • Sandra Davenport

      The Chamberlains, owners of Summit School (used to be Windrush) also gave $250,000 to Block’s campaign.Money talks here. ANd don’t forget – Block’s flyers were the nastiest. The Charter Schools Association also spent big dollars sending out hate literature about Peter Chau. You can compare them to the Chevron movement in RIchmond. Big dollars spreading lies about the opponents. Makes the democratic system immoral and sleazy. Karen Block should be ashamed at the way she won the election.

      • I knew Ms Block an Ms Cuevas before they were backed by CCSA. They are ethical and care about the students. The construction interests have poured in over $3 million into district elections and have been controlling WCCUSD for years. It’s all about the bond program- $1.63 billion and growing.

      • AJ Benham

        Sandra – Perhaps the negative campaigning against Ms. Kronenberg actually helped her, in much the same way that the RPA benefitted from Chevron’s spending. Unfortunately, your credibility suffers when you garble the names in your post. A little fact checking on numbers might help, as would citing your sources, and doing a simple google search on Summit Schools.

    • Chevron’ Miving Forward: http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1372270

      Campaign Finance:
      BATES FOR MAYOR & MYRICK, RAMSEY, POWERS, ROGERS FOR CITY COUNCIL AND MADELINE KRONENBERG AND PETER CHAU FOR WEST CONTRA COSTA SCHOOL BOARD; RICHMOND WORKING FAMILIES FOR JOBS 2014, IN SUPPORT OF

  3. Chris

    It sounds like the boat is blowing its horn at dock for Supt. Harter and his lackies finally….it will sail them to the shores of other low perfomring school districts.

    Bon voyage slouches…

  4. EM

    Heavy money spending pays off in school board race?? Really? Chevron spending about 3million did not pay off so why does the money spent on the school board has to be related to LIZ and VALs victory? I spent about 17 weeks, 476 hours canvassing for these two candidates, talking to people about why we needed actual leaders in our board and thankfully I met a lot of people that told me they will definitely not vote for any of the incumbents because they have not seen any progress in our kids performance. I would appreciate if all the hard work parents, students, teachers and members of the community did while walking, door knocking and phone banking be considered as part of the win as well. There was times when 10 of us would be knocking on doors on Saturday mornings and up to 8 of us phone banking late evenings, some parents would join us after long hours of work. IT WAS THE GROUNDWORK THAT HELPED US WIN.

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