With mere days left until election day, candidates for two Santa Ana school board seats have turned up the heat by raising more than $40,000 in political contributions this month, according to campaign reports filed with the county registrar of voters.
The amount represents nearly half of all the money raised by all eight candidates during the year. That figure is likely to rise once board President John Palacio, who is seeking a second four-year term, files his Oct. 24 statement.
Palacio said Monday he missed last week's deadline to report financial contributions because he had been busy running his campaign. He declined further comment. As of Sept. 30, Palacio had raised $16,415.
Candidate Roland Lujan, who had $2,000 by the end of September, including a $1,000 loan he made to his campaign, also missed Thursday's deadline. He could not be reached Monday for comment. Candidates face fines of $10 for each day they fail to file.
The Nov. 5 election represents the first battle in a war for control of the overcrowded Santa Ana Unified School District's governing board. Palacio and fellow trustee Nadia Maria Davis face tough races next week. A third trustee, Nativo V. Lopez, is the target of a recall campaign set for a vote Feb. 4.
Critics blame the three trustees for what they call the slow pace of new school construction and poor academic performance in the 62,000-student district, one of the most severely crowded in the state.
Lopez and Palacio have dismissed their enemies as disgruntled parents and affluent residents who resent the immigrant, working-class constituency in the district.
Of those who filed disclosures, Davis raised the most this month. She collected $15,430 from Oct. 1 to Oct. 19, for a total of $34,559 for the year.
For the year, newcomer Robert Munoz raised $15,941, the highest among the challengers. This month he raised $1,870.
Lupe Moreno, who ran unsuccessfully in 2000, raised $14,332 as of Oct. 24, including more than $10,000 this month. Oscar Garza raised $11,025 for the year, more than half in the last month.
Former trustee Audrey Noji, who lost her seat in 2000, amassed $7,165 this month and a total of $9,149 for the year.
Retired teacher Nina C. Brazelton did not file campaign contribution records because she did not expect to raise or spend more than $1,000.