In Howard school board race, campaigns spend on getting their message out

Jess Nocera
Contact ReporterHoward County Times

Howard County school board candidates have reported their final fundraising efforts before next week’s general election and they range from zero to $8,000.

Nine candidates, including one woman who is making a last minute write-in bid, are vying for four open seats.

The latest campaign finance reports, filed with the state, cover Aug. 22 through Oct. 21 and the amount raised in the school board race pales in comparison to funds in the accounts of the two men running for county executive, the county’s highest elected official.

The reports show Sabina Taj leading with nearly $8,000 in her bank account and Anita Pandey with no money at all.

The nine candidates are Vicky Cutroneo, Bob Glascock, Danny Mackey, Jen Mallo, Robert Miller, Pandey, Mavourene Robinson, Taj and Chao Wu.

Cutroeno’s fundraising spiked in this cycle, collecting nearly $1,200 and bolstering her bank account from $532.61 to $1,729.46.

Collecting a little over $1,600 in this last fundraising cycle, Glascock now has $2,721.75 in his bank account.

Mackey, the only candidate to receive money from outgoing school board Chairwoman Cynthia Vaillancourt or any other current school board member, has $1,789.56 in funds.

Dropping $2,000 since her reporting filing in August, Mallo reported $2,416.02 in her account.

Miller gained over $2,200 from August until now, reporting $3,254.71 in his account.

Pandey, who had $78.56 during the August report, now has zero dollars.

Robinson, who became an official write-in candidate earlier this month, does not have reports on file. Robinson lost in the June primary.

Collecting nearly $1,400 in fundraising between the August report and now, Taj reported $7,956.26.

Wu, gained $9 in this past report, with $1,709 left to spend.

Most candidates are using campaign funds to pay for fundraising efforts, media and printing and campaign materials. Taj, for example, spent more than $5,000 in this fundraising cycle on printing and campaign materials, with Mackey, spending close to $3,000 and Mallo spent a little over $2,000.

During the November 2016 school board race, where three newcomers ousted incumbents who often sided with former schools Superintendent Renee Foose, the seven candidates together had nearly $15,000 in their last campaign finance report before the general election.

Both Cutroneo and Miller ran in the 2016 election. Then, Miller has less money in his campaign account, ranking in just under $1,000 days before Election Day. Cutroneo was opposite Miller, having more in her bank account two years ago, with $2,215 in the final days before the election.

In the county executive race, spending has topped $1 million, according to finance reports released late last month.

Political candidates at the local level often struggle to see big financial donations in part because they are not covered as intensely as federal and gubernatorial races, according to Todd Eberly, political science professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

“People don’t give money to people they don’t know,” Eberly said.

The lack of donations also stems from the fact local lawmakers do not determine political hot topics like concealed permit and abortion rights, Ebelrly said.

“It is harder to generate the interest and money in races” that aren’t the deciding votes in these issues, he said.

Early voting in Howard ends at 8 p.m. Thursday. There are four early voting centers: The Bain Senior Center in Columbia, the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, the Miller Branch Library in Ellicott City and the Ridgely’s Run Community Center in Jessup.

Erin B. Logan contributed to this report.

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jnocera@baltsun.com

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