Board of Education candidates gathered for the Daily Press' Squirm Night forum. (Photo by Brandon Wise)
Board of Education candidates gathered for the Daily Press’ Squirm Night forum. (Photo by Brandon Wise)

CITY HALL — Recent financial filings show incumbent Ben Allen pulling ahead of the pack in private fundraising in his fight to keep his spot on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education.

Allen, currently the board president, raised $16,857 between Oct. 1 and Oct. 20 after pulling in only $1,250 in the months prior to the most recent filing.

His coffers got a boost with nearly $6,000 left over from his successful 2008 campaign, so despite over $3,000 in recent expenditures he’s sitting on $16,481.35 with only a week to go in the campaign.

Many of the contributors are local to the Westside, but others hail from further afield like New York and England.

“I sent out an e-mail to some of my friends and supporters and people stepped up in all sorts of ways and I’m just grateful to have a good network of friends who support me and believe in what we’re trying to do,” Allen said.

Fellow incumbents Jose Escarce and Maria Leon-Vazquez also put up gains, although nothing as dramatic.

Escarce raised $3,467.44 in the first three weeks of October. Among his supporters are former PTA heads, education professionals, City Council candidates and colleagues from the RAND Corporation, where Escarce also works.

A separate filing with the City Clerk’s Office on Oct. 25 shows that Escarce also loaned himself $5,000 for the campaign.

Leon-Vazquez, in contrast, raised only $650 in the October filing period, with $500 of that coming from one donor. The remaining $150 arrived in increments below $100 each, and was not itemized.

The self-proclaimed reform slate, composed of Malibu residents Karen Farrer, Craig Foster and Seth Jacobson, had not filed its financial disclosures by Monday afternoon because of a problem uploading the file, Jacobson said.

Each of the three entered the race with a $10,000 personal loan. They cited both the late date of their entry into the race — they declared the week before the deadline — and the need to compete with the additional funding their opponents would receive through the endorsement of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, the leading political organization in the city.

SMRR, however, has not put much money behind the Board of Education candidates. According to filings, SMRR support has amounted to $2,000 for each incumbent, mostly coming from postage, mail preparation and printing costs of candidate mailers.

In general, the organization does not spend much of its campaign money on school board candidates, said Patricia Hoffman, co-chair of SMRR.

“Because we field so many people, we take the cost of the mailing and divide by how much space they have,” Hoffman said. “It comes out to very little toward the Board of Education candidates. We spend a larger portion on City Council.”

Those candidates receive something in the neighborhood of $15,000 each in support, she said.

If past experience plays any role, the three incumbents will not expect much more support.

The last time they each ran in 2008, SMRR spent a total of $2,458.43 on each.

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