In the race to represent the coastal areas of San Diego Unified, veteran school board member John de Beck and challenger Scott Barnett are nearly neck-and-neck in fundraising. De Beck has raised almost $23,000 during the campaign, while Barnett has raised nearly $22,000, including more than $4,000 in nonmonetary donations.

But de Beck has spent about $4,700 more so far and has about $1,500 more sitting in the bank as he goes into the final stretch of the campaign. De Beck came into the race last year with money on hand, leaving Barnett to hustle for donations to catch up. Barnett has definitely picked up the pace, raising roughly four times as much money as de Beck between July and September.

So who’s funding these guys? De Beck, who has spent nearly two decades on the board, snapped up donations from Charter School of San Diego founder Mary Bixby, former school board member Frances O’Neill Zimmerman and George McGregor, who administers the health benefits trust to which San Diego Unified belongs. Most of his recent donors are retirees, many of them from the school district itself. De Beck had already earlier gotten money from the Associated Builders and Contractors.

Barnett, a budget consultant and former head of the county Taxpayers Association, is bringing in donations from strange political bedfellows. On the one hand, he has received money from school district critics such as businessman Rod Dammeyer and Scott Himelstein, who organizes a group critical of San Diego Unified that has called for changes in how the school board works.

But Barnett is also getting money from the regional Labor Council and unionized carpenters and plumbers. While he recently lost the endorsement of the teachers union for not supporting a proposed parcel tax for San Diego Unified schools, his war chest is still benefiting from labor. Other notable donors include school board member John Lee Evans and Taxpayers Association board member April Boling.

You can check out the campaign reports for this year on the Registrar of Voters website. Keep in mind that they don’t include donations that candidates received last year. Spot something interesting that I overlooked? Please let me know!

I’m still waiting to see all the spending reports for the other school board race between Kevin Beiser, Stephen Rosen and Katherine Nakamura to represent the northeastern parts of San Diego Unified. Check back soon for more details!

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter:

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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