District 51 school board race gets pricey

It’s a rare year for campaign contributions to local school board candidates.

District E candidate Rose Femia Pugliese reported $2,413 in contributions before Oct. 8. That’s about half of the money she’s received to date, Pugliese said Tuesday.

District E rival Greg Mikolai, who created a bank account for his donations Oct. 9, had a debt of $24.81 before the campaign finance reporting deadline Oct. 8. Thanks to recent donations of $1,000 from the Public Education Committee and $3,000 from the Mesa Valley Education Association, both he and Pugliese have collected more campaign money than any other local school board candidate in at least a dozen years.

Just five of the 24 people who ran for District 51 school board in the past decade received contributions. That figure includes Pugliese and Mikolai.

Diann Rice, elected to the school board in 2007, is the only current board member that had a campaign committee registered with the Secretary of the State. She ran against Gary Miller, who also had a campaign committee and raised $400. Rice raised $3,252.67.

Candidates Bill Gordon and Robert Fuller opened committees in 2003, but neither reported any contributions. Dan Robinson reported $330.77 in contributions to his re-election committee in 2003.

School board member Cindy Enos-Martinez ran unopposed and without a campaign fund in 2007, and members Leslie Kiesler and Ron Rowley ran unopposed and unfunded for their seats in 2005.

School Board member Harry Butler ran against Sam Susuras in 2005. Neither candidate had a campaign committee, according to Colorado Secretary of State records. Kiesler and Butler will run unopposed and without funds this year.

None of the school board candidates in 1999 and 2001 opened a committee.

Mikolai said he didn’t plan to open a campaign committee until he received the MVEA donation after the organization endorsed him.

“I was not expecting contributions of any sort, to be honest with you,” he said.

Pugliese said some people asked her if they could donate to her campaign when she was passing around the petition required to become a candidate.

“I said, ‘No,’ because at that time there was no one running against me,” Pugliese said. “Once there were two other candidates that stepped up, I knew I’d have to do more.”

A third candidate for District E, Amber Sigler,  recently dropped out of the race. Sigler did not create a candidate committee with the Secretary of State’s Office.

The money has come in handy, as both candidates have purchased yard signs and radio advertisements. Pugliese bought brochures, and Mikolai paid for newspaper ads.

“I think I have $4” left, Pugliese said.

The election is by mail-in ballot, and results will be tallied Nov. 3.


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