Nov 1, 2021 - Politics

Money floods Des Moines-area school board elections

Illustration of a chalkboard with three digital-style dollar signs on it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Des Moines-area school board candidates and political action committees received a flood of campaign donations this election cycle β€” outraising donation totals from 2017 and 2019, the Des Moines Register reports.

Why it matters: School board seats β€” typically uneventful and nonpartisan roles β€” are the coveted spots this fall as both parties try to ensure their ideologies are reflected in classrooms, especially in our COVID-19 era.

  • Politicized issues like masks and critical race theory have super-charged elections this year.

State of play: Local candidates collectively raised more than $180K this election cycle. That's five times the amount of the last election, per the Register.

The highest earner: Former Obama official Jackie Norris raised more than $28K, a higher total than all of the challengers combined.

  • Norris told the Register that her donations, which include $5K from out of state, come from being a known leader in the area.

And in suburban Ankeny, where school board tensions have been especially high, progressive-leaning candidates Lori Bullock and incumbent Lori Lovstad both raised $10K+.

  • Sarah Barthole, who gained notoriety for gaining Gov. Kim Reynolds' endorsement, also raised $10K.
  • Total campaign distributions in the district were only $8.5K in 2019.

As for those PACs: Ames Deserves Better, which endorsed three school board candidates, raised more than $18K.

  • A Waukee super PAC emailed its supporters Friday saying it also raised nearly $18K.
  • Both groups are conservative-leaning and have expressed opposition to equity standards.

Worthy of your time (and subscription πŸ”’): Des Moines metro school board races draw five times the campaign cash as prior cycle


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