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Austin school board candidate Quintanilla leads in fund-raising

David Quintanilla, CFO of Serrano’s Tex-Mex Restaurants and a school PTA secretary, has raised far more money than any candidate in this year’s school board races, with $48,050 — more than four times as much as his opponent, Cindy Anderson.

As he runs for the at-large seat being vacated by board President Gina Hinojosa, Quintanilla has the endorsements of Hinojosa, former board members and the district’s biggest labor group, Education Austin.

“I am proud of where we are in this race,” Quintanilla said. “We definitely have the momentum.”

After a decade of volunteerism at the district, Anderson has the backing of former board members, including former presidents Vincent Torres, Mark Williams and Doyle Valdez.

Anderson, who has spent the past five years as an executive board member of the Austin Council of PTAs, said she helped teachers and schools create and leverage additional resources, and trained parent support specialists and new principals about how to work with the PTA and the community. She has also advocated against high-stakes testing and about school finance during three legislative sessions.

Despite Quintanilla’s big lead in campaign funds, Anderson described her fundraising as “on pace.” While she has fewer organization endorsements, she has received the sole endorsement of Austin Kids First, which came onto the education political scene four years ago and became the largest financial donor in school board races in 2014. While the most recent finance report doesn’t include a $5,000 donation that she received after the filing deadline, its leaders have pledged to donate more.

“My contributions are from the same supporters listed on my website, the parents, teachers, parent support specialists, principals, and community members that I have worked with side by side in the trenches over the last decade,” she said.

While the at-large seats often bring in more than six figures in political contributions, it’s unclear whether this election — largely overshadowed by the presidential election, as well as city council races and a city $720 million bond proposition — will garner as much attention and cash as in previous years.

In the race in District 2 — the east and southeast areas of Austin, including Eastside Memorial High School, a $10,000 contribution for the Education Austin labor group is the bulk of incumbent Jayme Mathias’s fundraising. His challenger, IRS information technology manager Andy Anderson, didn’t raise funds and didn’t attend many endorsement forums.

Mathias said he felt less urgency to fundraise and “instead, we’ve focused on knocking on doors and connecting with District 2 voters.” Mathias said block walking has helped him connect with the voters, 40 percent of whom have moved into his district in the past four years. “During the past two weeks alone, I’ve knocked on over 2,500 doors, and I will have walked all the neighborhoods of District 2 by the start of early voting on October 24.”

Anderson said he shied away from contributions from partisan groups to ensure no donations violated his work as a federal employee in a non-partisan race . He received one endorsement, from the Dove Springs Proud.

“I don’t see that as a deterrent in winning the seat, but as an asset,” Anderson said. “I don’t see any need to change what I have been doing in my campaign at this point. I will continue to just talk to people and groups who may not know me.”

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