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Stephenson takes lead in early fundraising for CMS board

First-time candidate Jeremy Stephenson leads in fund-raising.
First-time candidate Jeremy Stephenson leads in fund-raising.

Jeremy Stephenson and Elyse Dashew lead the early fundraising in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School board race, but it’s small change compared to the Charlotte mayor’s race.

Stephenson, a first-time candidate, reported about $14,340 in donations and a $20,000 loan from his wife on the first financial report. (Look up reports here.)

Dashew, making her second try, has raised about $12,600 and loaned her campaign $3,000, according to her report.

Seven other contenders for the three at-large school board seats report far less – perhaps not surprising since the report covers fundraising through June 30. Candidates filed in July.

In the mayor’s race, Jennifer Roberts has raised more than $300,000 in her bid for mayor, and at least four other candidates topped $100,000 in the reports due Friday. But the mayoral candidates face off in Sept. 15 primaries – Roberts has been campaigning since May 2014 – and school board fundraising is just getting started for the Nov. 3 nonpartisan election.

At-large candidates have to cover not only Charlotte but the six suburban towns. But school board races traditionally rely more on personal appearances and endorsements than big budgets.

Stephenson and Dashew both hail from southeast Charlotte.

Dashew’s list of donors includes well-known names in education, business and civic engagement, including $250 from retired banker Hugh McColl Jr., a Democrat; $1,000 from unaffiliated philanthropist Anna Spangler Nelson, co-founder of Project LIFT; and $100 from Republican Richard Vinroot, a former Charlotte mayor and charter school activist.

Stephenson’s donors include fewer names I recognize, though he got $250 from Kate Payerle’s 2013 Charlotte City Council campaign fund. Pat Riley of Allen Tate real estate, a former Charlotte Chamber chair, gave Stephenson $200 and Dashew $175.

Amelia Stinson-Wesley, who served an appointed term representing the south suburban District 6 on the school board, reports raising $2,850 so far. That includes $200 from Paul Bailey, elected to that seat in 2013.

Ericka Ellis-Stewart, seeking a second term after pulling the most votes in the 2011 at-large race, reports raising $1,550 so far and having about $2,900 on hand at the start.

Board Chair Mary McCray, the other incumbent running, certified her return to active campaign status in July, which means she wasn’t raising money by the June deadline.

Angela Ambroise and Larry Bumgarner have certified they plan to raise and spend less than $1,000, which exempts them from filing reports. Levester Flowers reports raising $358 and Janeen Bryant $224.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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