BOX School board candidate spending ranged from $0 to $2,100

By Elliot Mann

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Campaigning for Rochester School Board cost one candidate $2,000, while others didn’t spend a penny.

Candidates filed spending reports last week. Challenger Michael Baker spent the most, $2,166. Two candidates reported they didn’t spend anything.

Three incumbents emerged victorious over the 10 challengers earlier this month in the race for Rochester school board. Baker received 11,709 votes, or 27 percent, in his seat No. 7 bid. Incumbent Cris Fischer won that seat with 15,227 votes (35 percent); she spent $1,072.


Baker said he doesn’t regret spending more than $2,000 on his campaign. Baker primarily used newspaper advertising and said that in the future, he would buy some yard signs, too.

"The reason being, people will see it day in and day out," said Baker, who didn’t rule out another run two years from now.

Campaign surplus

School board chairwoman Breanna Bly raised $1,325 for her re-election run — the most of all candidates — but spent only $942. She can either keep the surplus funds for a future race or donate the money to an education-based organization, like the Rochester school district, said Ann Eberhard, treasurer for Bly’s campaign for seat No. 1. Most of the donations were less than $50 each, Eberhard said.

Spending the most to win

Of the top spenders by seat, only James Pittenger emerged victorious, spending $524.30 in his re-election bid. Seat No. 3 challenger Jeff Kennelly spent $364.58, while Bill Moe didn’t record any spending other than the $2 filing fee.

Spending little

The seat No. 7 challengers included two candidates who reported less than $5. Marcia Matz spent $2.50, and Georgiana Castellanos didn’t spend anything, according to campaign finance reports.


Matz was the only candidate to skip both election forums but still got 6,323 votes, or 14 percent of the totals, for seat No. 7.


While Baker used newspaper advertising, others used a combination of yard signs, Web sites, fliers translated in two languages and radio ads.

Since Matz doesn’t have a lawn where she can post yard signs, she posted two fliers on her car. She said people at her church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also knew she was running.

Matz said the high vote totals surprised her. She is unsure if voters picked her because of name recognition or if they simply chose against the status quo.

"Word of mouth, maybe? I don’t know what else to attribute (the amount) to," Matz said.

A legislative change this year required school districts to notify the state if they planned to hold a primary election, but the Rochester School Board failed to do so by the June 1 deadline, resulting in a slate of 13 candidates. The winners — Bly, Pittenger and Fischer — begin their new four-year terms in January.

Candidates technically file two more finance reports, but a district employee said those reports are unlikely to register any amounts because the school board election typically pales in comparison to spending on other races.


Election spending

The spending reports for this year’s Rochester school board election:

  • Michael Baker, $2,166.
  • Richard Hinds, $1,087.73
  • Michael Resman, $1,220
  • James Pittenger, $524.30 - won Seat No. 3
  • Cris Fischer, $1,072 - won Seat No. 7
  • Breanna Bly, $942.47 - won Seat No. 1
  • Brad Trahan, $774.18
  • Christina Delfanian, $427.48
  • Jeff Kennelly, $364.58
  • Othelmo da Silva, $314.91
  • Marcia Matz, $2.50
  • Georgiana Castellanos, $0
  • Bill Moe, $0
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