Guan, Austin lead fundraising for Montgomery at-large school board race

Guan, Austin lead fundraising for Montgomery at-large school board race

13 candidates vying for one seat; incumbent has most contributions in District 4 race

| Published:

This story was updated at 11:40 a.m. April 30, 2020, to more fully describe Stephen Austin’s campaign platform. It was again updated at 12:40 p.m. April 30, 2020, to add more information about some donors. 

Through the first fundraising period for the Montgomery County school board election on June 2, the 13 at-large candidates collectively raised more than $78,000. The pack was led by aerospace engineer Jay Guan, Bethesda finance professional Stephen Austin, and Universities at Shady Grove political science program director Sunil Dasgupta.

Guan, advocating for more access to science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) instruction, has raised the most money, with $19,395, according to campaign finance reports filed this week with the state Board of Elections.

Austin, whose campaign emphasizes fiscal responsibility and ensuring that students attend the schools closest to their homes, raised $17,745.

On a platform pushing for strengthened relationships between teachers and students, Dasgupta raised $15,885.

The at-large race has drawn more attention than past elections as many candidates have staked out positions on an ongoing countywide review of school boundaries as part of their campaign.

The review has caused a rift in the community between residents and school board candidates who feel school district policy correctly weighs the importance of diversity in schools and those who disagree, arguing students should attend the schools closest to their homes.

Other at-large candidates and the amounts they raised are: Pavel Sukhobok, $6,785.07; Paul Geller, $6,350; Lynne Harris, $5,931; Dalbin Osorio, $5,735.28; Cameron Rhode, $1,350; Collins Odongo, $50.

Three candidates — Darwin Romero, Mitra Ahadpour and Anil Chaudhry — filed affidavits of limited contributions and expenditures, signaling they did not raise or spend more than $1,000.

Lumpoange Thomas did not file a finance report by Tuesday’s deadline.District 4 school board candidate and current Board of Education President Shebra Evans reported raising $2,915, while her challenger Steve Solomon raised $575. A third District 4 candidate, Ehren Park Reynolds, had not filed a finance report by Tuesday’s deadline.

The primary election was scheduled for April 28, but that date was pushed back to June 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The top two candidates from the at-large and District 4 races will advance to the general election in November.

For District 2, both candidates will advance to the general election because there is not at least three candidates.

Candidate Michael Fryar filed an affidavit of limited contributions and expenditures. Incumbent Rebecca Smondrowski reported raising $350, including a $300 donation from Tinj Chau, of Clarksburg.

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A breakdown of each at-large and District 4 candidate’s campaign contributions and expenses follows. The list includes donations larger than $250, or a candidate’s largest contributions if less than $250, as well as contributions of any amount from notable community figures. It is not an exhaustive list of contributions or expenses.

At large:

Mitra Ahadpour: filed an affidavit of limited contributions and expenditures

Stephen Austin, contributions:
• Coalition for Better Montgomery PAC, $3,000
• Gingery Development Group, Rockville, $1,000
• Steven Tvardek, Potomac, $1,000
• Marisa Safa, Potomac, $980
• Alexander Bush, chair of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, $500
• Amanda Cabe, Bethesda, $500
• Michael Kirkpatrick, Bethesda, $500
• David Moorhead, Rockville $500
• Mark Schuman, Bethesda, $500
• Craig Shakarji, Potomac, $500
• Alex Robbins, a Bethesda author, $500
• Rodney Peele, vice president of educational issues for the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations, $250

Stephen Austin, expenses:
• $3,591.52 on yard signs
• $250.02 on online advertising

Sunil Dasgupta, contributions:
• MSEA Fund for Children and Public Education, $3,500
• Fred Azacarte, board chair of New World Foundation, $250
• Heather Carroll-Fisher, executive director of the Montgomery County Education Association, $250
• Troy Jacobs, Takoma Park, $250
• Niranjan Karnik, Chicago, $250
• Sook Seo, Bethesda, $250
• Henry Smith, Chevy Chase, $250
• Paul Smith, Silver Spring, $250
• Cheryl Gannon, Silver Spring, $200
• Mark Pierzchala, Rockville City Council member, $100
• Partap Verma, Montgomery County Planning Board member, $100
• Hans Riemer, Montgomery County Council member, $50

Sunil Dasgupta, expenses:
• $6,390 on online advertising
• $1,000 to Christopher Wilhelm of Chevy Chase for consulting

Paul Geller, contributions:
• George Geller, Delaware, $5,000
• George Beestman, Wisconsin, $500
• Donna Beestman, Wisconsin, $500
• Nancy Floreen, former Montgomery County Council member and county executive candidate, $250
• Beryl Feinberg, Rockville City Council member, $100

Paul Geller, expenses: $2,502.75 on yard signs

Collins Odongo, contributions: $50 contribution from himself

Collins Odongo, expenses: None

Pavel Sukhobok, contributions:
• $6,000 contribution from himself
• Ling Shen, Rockville, $400

Pavel Sukhobok, expenses:
• $1,639.12 on online advertising and website development

Anil Chaudhry: filed an affidavit of limited contributions and expenditures

Jay Guan, contributions:
• Ting Chau, Clarksburg, $2,050
• Sau-Man Shen, Gaithersburg, $1,000
• Chengbiao Tu, Rockville, $500
• Jing-Fang Wang, North Potomac, $500
• Yishu Wang, Virginia, $500
• Yi Wu, Potomac, $500
• Lily Qi, state delegate, $500
• Julie Yang, Potomac, $500
• Yuxin Men, Clarksburg, $400
• Yunfan Deng, Potomac, $300
• Melinda He, North Potomac, $300
• Changhong Liu, Rockville, $300
• Ruyan Teng, Rockville, $300
• Huizhen Zhang, Clarksburg, $250.

Jay Guan, expenses:
• $3,339.08 on yard signs
• $2,310 on advertising

Lynne Harris, contributions:
• Khristy Kartsakalis, Olney, $1,050
• Cynthia Simonson, MCCPTA president, $600
• Gave self $600
• Kellie Reynolds, Gaithersburg, $475
• Diana Conway, chair of the Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club, $300
• Gillian Hubner, MCCPTA leader, $300
• Oriole Saah, Silver Spring, $273
• Jennifer Sawin, Silver Spring, $250
• Katya Marin, Bethesda, $250
• Marc Elrich, Montgomery County executive, $100
• Tom Hucker, Montgomery County Council member, $100

Lynne Harris, expenses:
• $1,888.61 on yard signs and brochures
• $510.64 on online advertising and Facebook posts

Dalbin Osorio, contributions:
• Kate Guthrie, Virginia, $675
• Kimberly Taylor, Florida, $250.

Dalbin Osorio, expenses:
• $600 on online advertising

Cameron Rhode, contributions:
• James Gilchrist, state delegate, $1,000
• Kumar Barve, state delegate, $250

Cameron Rhode, expenses:
• $929.53 on brochures

Darwin Romero: filed an affidavit of limited contributions and expenditures

Lumpoagne Thomas: No report filed.

District 4:

Steve Solomon, contributions:
• Glen Ireland, Potomac, $150

Steve Solomon, expenses: None

Shebra Evans, contributions:
• CERG 2.0 PAC, $3,000
• Shirley Brandman, former Montgomery County Board of Education member, $500
• Judy Docca, current Montgomery County Board of Education member, $300

Shebra Evans, expenses:
• $290.18 on printing brochures.

Ehren Park Reynolds: No report filed

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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