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Davis campaign donates $8,250 to local PTAs

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School board member Eric Davis

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Eric Davis, who’s seeking re-election to the District 5 seat on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board, donated $8,250 from his campaign to 24 PTAs in his district, the latest campaign finance reports show.

The largest gift, $1,000, went to Rama Road Elementary, the school challenger Edward Donaldson pulled his son out of to enroll the child in private school. Most other schools got $250, and six got $500.

Davis said the donations, which are allowed under campaign law, are not intended to buy votes or campaign support. “I can think of no better use of campaign funds than to help support our schools,” he said. “I hope they use it to support our students.”

Davis reports having raised just over $18,000, the largest sum in what has been a low-spending board race. At the same time four years ago, when Davis made his first bid for the seat, he had raised more than $47,000.

Eleven candidates are running in five contested races for district seats (incumbent Joyce Waddell in District 3 drew no opposition). Three, including Donaldson, are staying under the $1,000 limit for required reporting.

A first-time candidate, Donaldson said he now thinks it was a mistake to plan a low-budget campaign.

“I wish I had the ability to donate money for (PTAs). Unfortunately I do not,” he said when told of Davis’ campaign contributions.

Bob Folk, principal of Alexander Graham Middle School, said it’s new for his PTA to get a donation from a campaign, but not to get support from Davis.

“Eric is a former parent of ours. Eric donated to AG long before he was running for re-election,” Folk said. He said there is no expectation that the PTA provide anything to Davis’ campaign in return. “I do not see this as our PTA endorsing or influencing others to vote for Eric Davis.”

Davis said his campaign gave to PTAs in 2009 as well, though his campaign reports from that year do not reflect that. This year, he reported making donations to parent-teacher organizations at all 24 elementary and middle schools in the south Charlotte district on Oct. 15.

The week before, candidate profiles in the Observer reported that Donaldson had been so frustrated with his son’s brief encounter with Rama Road Elementary, the Donaldsons’ neighborhood school, that he had pulled the boy out and enrolled him at a private Christian school. Donaldson said he hopes to improve the schools and return his young children to CMS. The article drew angry comments from several Rama Road parents, who said Donaldson should have stayed to work with the school.

When asked if that was the reason for the large donation to Rama, Davis said he is trying to support a planned partnership between Discovery Education and the high-poverty elementary school. He said the schools that got $500 – Greenway Park, Huntingtowne Farms, Montclaire, Pinewood and Sedgefield elementaries and McClintock Middle – also have high concentrations of low-income students.

In the north suburban District 1 race, incumbent Rhonda Lennon reports having raised $2,875 and challenger Christine Mast reports just over $1,500. Both are well below the $5,500 Lennon had raised at this point in the 2009 campaign.

In west/southwestern District 2, challenger Thelma Byers-Bailey reports raising $11,090. Incumbent Richard McElrath filed a 2011 declaration that he does not expect to exceed the $1,000 reporting cap.

In eastern District 4, incumbent Tom Tate reports raising $1,155. Challenger Queen Elizabeth Thompson had originally stated that she would not top the $1,000 limit, but Oct. 17 she filed to revoke that declaration. As of late Monday afternoon there was no financial report on file for her, but the Board of Elections said reports sent by mail meet the deadline if they’re postmarked by Monday.

In south/southeastern District 6, Paul Bailey reported having $12,000 in financing, with $10,500 of that from loans. Bolyn McClung reported having $11,337, including $10,800 in loans. Doug Wrona is under the $1,000 cap.

Helms: 704-358-5033; Twitter: @anndosshelms
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