For Fort Worth school board candidates, wooing donors is a grassroots ground game

Candidates for Fort Worth school board are running for four seats on the nine-member board. The election is May 4.
Candidates for Fort Worth school board are running for four seats on the nine-member board. The election is May 4.

At $10,561.46, Fort Worth school board President Tobi Jackson’s campaign has the most cash on hand among candidates who filed campaign finance reports this week.

Jackson, who has served two terms, is seeking to be re-elected to District 2, which includes Eastern Hills and Polytechnic high schools. She is running against Chad McCarty, former principal of Eastern Hills High School, for the seat.

Jackson’s campaign report was among those filed with the school district on Thursday, which was the last day to file the first campaign report for the May 4 local elections. Jackson listed a total of $17,850 in political contributions with $18,616.58 in political expenditures.

Jackson has an outstanding loan total of $2,690.45.

“I am running a professional campaign and I am proud of the broad and deep support my campaign has received,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s largest donation was $2,500 from FWPOA, or the Fort Worth Police Officers Association.

The Fort Worth school district is the largest in Tarrant County. During the 2017-2018 school year, the district’s had an estimated $795.5 million budget. The district has more than 82,000 students attending 148 schools.

The Fort Worth school board is made up of nine single-member districts. Four of those positions are up for election this year. School board members serve four-year terms without pay. This year, no incumbents are running for re-election in Districts 3, 5 and 6, which are currently held by Christene Moss, Judy Needham and Ann Sutherland, respectively.

Campaign finance reports

The campaign finance reports cover the period from Jan. 1 through April 4, when the reports were due. They were posted on the Fort Worth school district website. The next report is due on April 26.

Donations came in a variety of amounts, including $50, $100 and $2,000.

One candidate, Cleveland Harris, did not file a report.

Harris, who is running for District 3, said he will turn his report in when he completes it.

“This is something new to me,” Harris said, explaining that it is his first time running for public office. “I am learning as I go.”

There are several first-time candidates in the school board May 4 elections, including two whose campaigns have listed the second and third highest amount of cash on hand in the reports.

Lisa Saucedo, an analyst for Texas Health Resources and former president of the FWISD Council of PTAs, has the second highest amount of cash on hand with $9,626.58. She listed $16,075 in political contributions and $5,803.42 in expenditures.

Saucedo’s largest monetary contribution was $2,300 from River Oaks resident Robert Beatty.

Saucedo said even though she is comfortable raising dollars for school or student projects, getting political donations has been a new experience. She said it is ironic that they are trying to get political contributions for an unpaid post.

“I am asking people to take from a household budget,” she said. “They are investing in me to do everything I say I am going to do,”

Saucedo is one of three candidates running for the District 6 post. Candidates Anne Darr and Sandra Shelton are also competing for the seat.

Quinton “Q.” Phillips, who is running against Harris for District 3, reported $7,387.30 of cash on hand. He raised a total of $8,516 during this period and spent $1,128.70.

Phillips’ largest money contributions were for $2,000 from two separate donors — one from Steven Poole, the executive director for the United Educators Association, or UEA, and Karen Bere, a resident of Illinois.

Phillips said the majority of his donors are family and friends.

“It really is grassroots,” Phillips said. “It’s really just people who have believed in me.”

Phillips said he welcomes the voter scrutiny of campaign finance reports.

“People deserve to know what is going on with campaigns,” Phillips said. “Transparency is key. ...People want to know everything is on the up and up.”

Campaign cash on hand

District 2

Tobi Jackson: $10,561.46

Chad McCarty: $6,321.58

District 3

Cleveland Harris: Not available

Quinton “Q.” Phillips: $7,387.30

District 5

Carin “CJ” Evans: No cash on hand reported.

Carla Morton: $5,747.18

District 6

Anne Darr: $5,519.98

Lisa Saucedo: $9,626.58

Sandra Shelton: No cash on hand reported.

Staff writer Anna Tinsley contributed to this report.

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Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.