Howard County's five school board candidates are running low-budget campaigns so far, with all but one paying their own way, according to financial reports filed in Annapolis and Ellicott City this week.
The money raised by the candidates through Jan. 30 -- a month before the March primary -- lags substantially behind the funds collected up to a month before the 1994 school board primary.
Nearly all of the candidates' funds have been spent on printing and distributing signs, brochures, fliers and name tags.
Only one candidate -- community activist Francine Wishnick -- has attracted widespread support from community donors, collecting $1,565.
Retired Howard County teacher Jane Schuchardt has collected $1,550, but $1,500 of the money consists of a personal loan to her campaign. Similarly, of the $1,180 raised by PTA activist Virginia Charles, all but $80 consists of her own donation.
Arthur Neal Willoughby, a civil engineer who works for the Defense Department and teaches part-time at Morgan State University, had not raised any money as of Jan. 30.
Retired Montgomery County teacher Vincent Pugliese did not file a finance statement because he has promised to keep his campaign spending to less than $300.
The five candidates are seeking to replace school board Chairwoman Susan Cook, who announced last year that she would not seek re-election. The top two vote-getters in the March 5 primary will face off in the November general election.
Ms. Wishnick has received more than $1,000 in outside donations, relying on her contacts from her tenure on the Columbia Council, the Oakland Mills village board and the Oakland Mills Middle School PTA.
"I think the school board race should be very broad-based, and I hope my list of donors shows broad support," Ms. Wishnick said.
Among Ms. Wishnick's contributors are former Howard County Council member Angela Beltram, Columbia Council Vice Chairman David Berson, former school board Chairman Dana Hanna, political activist Wanda J. Hurt, Columbia Foundation Executive Director Barbara Lawson, Columbia Council member Michael Rethman and Libby Rouse, the former wife of Columbia's founder.
At the same point in the fall 1994 school board campaign, the candidates had raised much more money. By the Aug. 16, 1994, reporting date -- a month before the 1994 primary -- Stephen Bounds had raised $4,100, Jamie Kendrick, $5,390, Delroy Cornick, $2,390, Karen Campbell, $1,750 and Robert Minehart Jr., $1,100.
This year's candidates attributed the decline in fund raising to the timing of the primary. The 1994 primary came in September and gave candidates an entire summer to raise money; this year's primary is in March to coincide with the presidential primary.
"The timing of this primary makes it really tough," Mr. Willoughby said. "It hits you so quickly, and literally you've got to raise money while you're still talking and just introducing yourself to people."
Mr. Willoughby and Dr. Schuchardt said they nevertheless are working to attract donors, and Ms. Wishnick said she hopes to add to her funds. Ms. Charles is out of the country for almost the entire month and is not expected to raise much more money.
Francine Wishnick ......... $1,565
Jane Schuchardt ........... $1,550
Virginia Charles .......... $1,180
Arthur Neal Willoughby .... $0
* Mr. Pugliese filed an affidavit with the county stating that he would not raise or spend more than $300 on the primary campaign.
SOURCE: Campaign finance statements filed with state and county by Tuesday deadline.