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Heather Losurdo sets new school board campaign finance record

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Wake County school board candidate Heather Losurdo has raised a record total of more than $80,000 in her bid to unseat incumbent Kevin Hill.

New campaign finance reports made public today show that Losurdo had reported raising $82,357 through Oct. 24. The prior record was the $79,500 that conservative businessman Bob Luddy had raised, largely out of his own pocket, in his unsuccessful run for the school board in 1997.

Hill’s new report shows he’s raised $42,748 through Oct 24. While Hill has almost half of Losurdo’s total, outside groups not connected to his campaign have spent tens of thousands of dollars on mailers and television ads attacking Losurdo.

These new reports show how high high stakes it’s become in what’s already the most expensive school board contest in Wake County history. Reports on file show that more than $475,000 have been raised by the individual candidates and other political groups involved in the race. The number will rise above $500,000 and potentially much higher when all the final reports are filed early next year.

The new report shows that Losurdo’s biggest donors remain Luddy, conservative businessman Art Pope and his wife, Katherine Pope. They’ve all individually given her $8,000 for a combined total of $24,000.

Losurdo also received an additional $2,500 from the Northern Wake Republican Club, where she used to be president, to raise the group’s overall total giving to $4,000.

Some other potentially familiar names in Losurdo's new report include include attorney Kieran Shanahan, Dr. James Fulghum, state Rep. Paul Stam, state Rep. Marilyn Avila,  state Sen. Neal Hunt. former state Rep. Connie Wilson, former state Rep. Russell Capps, former Wake County Commissioner Gary Pendleton and Wake County Republican Party Chairwoman Susan Bryant.

The biggest donor in Hill's new report is the $4,000 he received from new school board member Susan Evans' campaign committee.

Some other interesting donors for Hill include the Teamsters, Gerda Stein, former Superintendent Del Burns, school board member Carolyn Morrison, former state Schools Superintendent Mike Ward, Swain Wood and Matthew Brown. Hill also received donations from a number of retired Wake principals and Central Office administrators, including Walt Sherlin, Gerald Pickett, Maurice Boswell and Teresa Abron.

Click here, here, here and here for Losurdo's new report.

Click here, here and here for Hill's new report.


Here's the reaction from Losurdo's campaign:

"What the level of financial support of Heather's campaign indicates is that parents and voters in Wake County are keenly aware of the significance of this runoff election on November 8 and appreciate what is at stake. It is further indication of the support of Heather's position on the issues facing the students, parents and voters in Wake County. Heather's support for Neighborhood Schools,increased Parental Choice, and Student Achievement ARE the issues that voters are concerned with.

Heather enjoys the support of not only the generous donors to her campaign, but the hundreds of volunteers, and the thousands of caring and concerned parents who have already voted for her once, and will be voting forher again. It is their hope that Heather emerges as the victor on November 8th so that their voices can be heard, and represented for the first time in a long time. The donations are only one reflection of the outpouring of support for Heather, much of it in response to the constant barrage of negative attacks. Heather is right on the issues and is right for the Wake County School Board."

Here's Hill's response:

"It's humbling that they have that trust and confidence in our campaign," Hill said of the more than 300 individual contributions he's received.


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While it is unusual

for a Republican to outraise a democrat in North Carolina, you have to realize that her total will represent about 90% of all money spent to help her get elected.  On the other hand, Hill's personal fundraising will only amount to about 10% of what is spent to help him get elected.

Democrats are adept at using third parties to push campaign spending far beyond what an individual campaign can raise.


Both parties are adept at using third parties and third party funding to push campaign spending and messages.   Neither party can claim a moral high ground or take a " my poor, put upon, picked on party" stand here. 


I don't think it's a moral argument, just a factual one: you can't look solely at money donated to the campaigns and make any sort of conclusion about support because D's and R's fund their advocacy differently.  There is a lot more money flowing through democratic 527's and other organizations than through GOP organizations.  Apart from direct party money, Civitas is really the only organization on the R side, while the D's have Dean Debnam's group, NC Progress Action (or whatever it's called), the AFL-CIO, the teamsters, etc...


The RNC has engaged in just as much dirty 527's, etc. funding nasty attack ads for years.   I will forever remember Helms and the Harvey Gantt ads!   

Perhaps at the national level

but it's certainly a different story locally.  The DNC, etc. is actively involved in what is happening in this election, while the RNC doesn't even know there's an election.  While you can allege equivalence, the cold, hard facts (campaign finance reports) prove you dead wrong.  


Would you say the Republicans are good at saving their dollars for years where redistricting applies? Would you make the same argument in reverse when talking about election spending 2 years ago? Would you say that RNC doesn't know there is an election or is it more like the RNC underestimated the depth of the response from the DNC and DNC supporters to their "in your face" BoE politics from 2009? The RNC (and support organizations) have and are spending much more than in previous BoE elections.

The campaigns' responses

The campaigns' responses speak volumes: 

Losurdo's is pure political positioning where Hill's is as apolitical as it gets; it's time to get politicians OFF the Board of Education so we can accomplish what matters -- quality education for all children.

Go, Kevin!

Campbells put up over $60K as downpayment for a return to busing

NO! What it is time for is to get the folks who supported and presided over the failed and discriminatory status quo forced-busing policies of the past OFF of our damn school board. Hill is a remnant of that complete fiasco and he must go. If he does not, his mission will be to turn back the clock and reverse all the family-friendly progress that has been made over the past two years. Wealth left-wing radicals, the Campbells, know this and are counting on Hill to do just that... that is why they have single-handedly put up over $60,000. It is a down payment on a return to forced-busing and reassignments for "diversity."

you sing from the Republican

you sing from the Republican songbook very well, but just because you sing it, doesn't make it so; NO ONE wants to return to the former student assignment plan; Hill himself has said he supports Tata's plan; his 'no' was a public statement that the plan still needs refining.

He voted No because there

He voted No because there were no set asides at the 'achievement schools'.  I haven't heard him ask any other questions about the plan. 


As the Superintendent stated yesterday, we do not know the capacities at each school and Kevin believes kids from low performing areas should have a chance to choose a high performing school.  That is what the plan calls for, just a differenence in how we get there.

You guys in the end did not loose.  Stability will be a far bigger priority than it was before.

I have not often agreed with you but recognize you passion and concern for our children and schools.  You were emminently qualifed to serve.  Ms. Losurdo is not.

Perry, I do agree that if a


I do agree that if a school is one of the choices on your list, you ought to have a realistic chance of getting in.  But I have several concerns about 'set asides' and what Hill's (and the other 4 Dem's) intentions are for them.  What percentage will be set aside? If the families from low performing areas don't choose those schools, will those seats go to other applicants or will they be remain unfilled until they can put the 'right' students in there?  This happened in the past with magnet seats and I can easily see it happening again with these 'high performing schools'. 

What about the Regional Choice schools that are already located in low performing areas?  Will the set asides be for low performing nodes in general or for low performing nodes for whom the school is not their closest?  Is Hill concerned about making sure that seats are set aside at those schools or just the more affluent Regional Choice schools? 

Hill and others seem to be worried that there won't be enough seats at the Regional Choice schools for parents who want them whereas I worry that there won't be enough seats at nearby schools.  Group 1 magnets have a 40-45% limit on local kids.  Group 2 Magnets let in base proximity kids from high performing nodes first so how many prox seats will be left for kids from the low performing nodes?  Those kids will have no priority at all for their proximate traditional calendar non-magnet schools. We know from past years that low income families don't usually choose YR schools so I'm guessing those will rank pretty far down on the list.  What do you know--that only leaves the Regional Choice. 

What transportation will be offered for each school for these families?  Will WCPSS manipulate transportation in order to get them to go to the Regional Choice schools?  Are they all really being offered 'proximate' non-magnet traditional options? Once you put set asides in place, it really opens up the path to further manipulation to get the students there and it is perilously close to assigning them where we want them to go for 'achievement diversity'. 

Additionally, Apexter had a great post somewhere on here about set asides causing problems in areas where there is barely enough (or isn't enough) capacity to house all the kids who live in area. 

I worry about what else Hill, Martin, and the others will want to put in place to ensure the proper level of diversity.  It is so easy to manipulate this plan and nobody will know.

It is so easy to manipulate

It is so easy to manipulate this plan and nobody will know.

That works both ways, though.
Your paragraph about the Group 2 magnet selection and its affect on low-performing proximate nodes shows that there are already some forces in the plan working against some low-performing kids.  Is that OK?  If they can't get into their proximate schools because of set-asides for magnet families, isn't it fair to set-aside seats for them at another school?
Most of the other questions that you asked are questions that I think should have been answered prior to the plan being passed.  They aren't questions that are only important because the democrats could gain a majority.  There's a lot of gray area in the plan, and gray area is risky no matter who is in charge. 
If there is a need to offer the "regional choices" in some areas, it only seems logical that there be some mechanism to ensure that the people in those areas have a decent chance of getting into them if they choose to go there. 

Dan--absolutely these are

Dan--absolutely these are questions of concern no matter who is on the school board.   No, I do not think it's ok that Group 2 magnets are accepting proximity students in such a biased way.  Especially since they are located in fairly affluent areas to begin with.  It's ridiculous that a comprehensive, objective magnet review was not part of this new assignment plan.  I also find it interesting that Hill and others who are concerned that some areas won't have access to high performing schools think that it's ok for those same people to not have access to magnet programs. 

Honestly, I don't think that too many families are going to choose their regional schools.  They are just too far away.  I think the greater threat is that they won't be able to stay close to home even if they want to.  They will be given the false choice of staying near home. 

I've looked at some nodes downtown to see what their choices are and one was very interesting.  It's node 77, a low performing node assigned to Conn Elementary.  Their elem choices are, in proximity order: Powell, Combs, Hunter, Lockhart (Y)RC, Carver (Mod)RC, Forestville (T), Lake Myra (Y) & Knightdale (Y).  If they can't get into Powell, Conn or Hunter they will be going 10 miles away and will then feed into East Wake or Wendell Middle and East Wake or Knightdale High.

Another thing to think about: these Regional Choice options just might backfire on them and instead of low performing kids leaving their local school for the RC, it will the high performing kids from those nodes who will leave.  This is what happened when the BOE & Dulaney tried to get more low income families to go to the YR schools.  They changed the lottery so that families applying from high poverty schools and nodes got in first.  But it was the middle class families from those schools and nodes who applied to year round and got in. 

Now I'm not against a non-low performing kid from one of those nodes getting into an 'achievement school'. I'm just pointing out that this is the opposite of what this policy is designed to do.  It's not about making sure low performing kids have access to high performing schools--it's about trying to make sure the schools are balanced by achievement. 

IMO, the achievement factor

IMO, the achievement factor was basically bludgeoned into submission by Margiotta and crew prior to the vote.  I believe that Tata had it in his original proposal.

I want the set-asides precisely for the parents of high-performing kids in low-performing areas who want their child to attend a "better" school.  Unless the BoE is going to commit to the funding necessary to make sure that kid is served no matter what school he attends, his parents should have that opportunity.

I got a lot of grief on here a week or two ago for saying that some of the kids around some of the magnet schools are going to end up in "assignment limbo", but I still think that's what it will be if the plan is left as-is.  They won't get into their closest schools because they are magnet, and they won't get into their RC schools because they are too far down the priority list.  They'll be left going to whatever school has room.

For a long time, I've heard people talk about how bad it was for kids to have to ride a bus to the suburbs.  I've heard how their parents wouldn't sign up for it if they were given an option.  Now, I'm hearing that so many of those parents would choose that option that it will mean none of the suburban schools have room for the people who live close by.  It really seems like some people will come up with whatever excuse the need to have their way.

I saw the conversation about

I saw the conversation about kids around magnet schools being in 'assignment limbo'.  I didn't say anything then as I am just wading back into these waters.  I do agree with you on that point though.  We know that there aren't enough seats in their local magnets to house them but we don't really know which schools will truly have room for them.   And some of their options aren't particularly appealing because they are quite far away and will feed them into middle and high schools that are even farther away.

My worry with Kevin Hill wanting set asides is that I fear he (and the other Dems) will want to keep those seats open even if the kids in low performing nodes don't choose them.  I can also easily see WCPSS only offering full transportation to the absolute closest magnet and the Regional Choice schools, which would pretty much force those families into the RC since they can't all fit in the magnets.  Which brings us right back where we are now.  There are still a lot of details that haven't been released.  I am very skeptical about all of these things because I know how easily this plan can be manipulated and how much Hill, Sutton and the others want to balance for diversity.  I believe Hill when he says the old plan is water under the bridge and that he wants to make this plan work.  The problem is with how many ways it can be manipulated to make it more like the old plan.

Staff has already added 3 manipulations that we know of--the magnet application priorities, the Group 2 magnet prox priorites & changing the feeder pattern for Fox Road to Wakefield High.  This plan is so convoluted that we will never see what is really going on.


I find it hard to believe

that this Super, or anyone else being paid enormous salaries at the building of gloom & doom, doesn't know the capacity at any given school.

So would that count as your first willful lie?

Let me know if that will be a check or cash.

The Campbells want more than tweaks for their $60K and counting

It is not about partisanship. The Campbells did not donate $60,000 and counting to have the plan tweaked. Hill says a lot of things; voters need to pay attention to how he votes. That is what matters.


Hill himself has said he supports Tata's plan; his 'no' was a public statement that the plan still needs refining.

We're not stupid. Hill doesn't have to say anything. Evans, Martin, Kushner and Sutton will do the dirty work. All Hill would have to do is vote with them.

Why no mention of outside money?

I'm sure that once you add in all the 527, 501, 401(k) and other donations that the total spent supporting Hill is going to be in the ballpark of, if not higher than, the total spent supporting Losurdo.  Yet, today's article makes no mention of it, instead giving the mistaken impression that Losurdo is getting high-dollar support while Hill is scraping by with nickels and dimes donated by individuals.

Marilyn Avila??

Is Marilyn related to Alex Avila - who is on JT's employer's (NC Center for Education Reform) board and is probably the CFO of Measurement Inc. - which probably (should be easy to verify although I don't know how - although WCPSS is not listed as client on their web pages) has business connections with WCPSS?

If true, it is indeed a small world.



I'm going back to pretending

I'm going back to pretending I'm taking it easy while l I fight off this upper respiratory bug. That means I'm jumping offline for the rest of the night. I'm about 9-10 campaign mailers behind that I'll focus on posting, possibly tomorrow.

Please get well soon.

Where is the relief pitcher? The game is not over. :-)

Just look at the names of

Just look at the names of who has donated to Losurdo -- a roll call of individuals who are anti-public-education, including many elected officials who have voted to defund our schools and others who campaigned against bond referendums.  Some have publicly expressed a desire to do away with public education entirely.  Would that be why they are supporting someone who is woefully unqualified to be a Wake County school board member?  On the other hand, donors to Hill include people who have dedicated their lives, as has Hill, to the children of Wake County for decades and who whole-heartedly support public education as an institution necessary for the functioning of our democracy.  Quite a contrast.

You beat me to it, VD

Another angle - these folks who donated to Losurdo have been at State level for years, and have had the power to enact legislation to increase teacher pay, to promote programs for the low performers, to increase funding for LEAs.   I've yet to see an ounce of legislation with any of their names on it that would positively address the educational challenges we face in this state. In fact, they think our school systems are overfunded!   And they sit back and blame the current state of NC Education on the counties and what child goes to what school where, and that neighborhood schools candidates can fix it all?  My 2nd Jeezzzz on the blogs tonight.

Yes quite a contrast. Just

Yes quite a contrast.

Just look at the names of those who have donated to Hill - a roll call of individuals who wrongly believed that busing students all over Wake County would insure that no child was left behind. Individuals who failed to address the need of the underachievers for so many years. Individuals who were quite satisfied to hide their most needy in "healthy schools," where their failures would not be discovered. Individuals who believed that a child's skin color and this parents income level predicted the development of their minds. Individuals who proudly walked naked through the streets of Wake County, never realizing that the "emperor had no clothes."

Yes, quite a contrast indeed.

Perhaps their efforts to

Perhaps their efforts to make all schools healthy as a pre-requisite for ensuring that all students could achieve would have been more successful if the people on the other list hadn't worked so hard to defund public schools.  I still can't understand how people who value public education can align themselves with others who are trying their best to bring it down.  I believe the voters in District 3 will align themselves with those who believe in public education and in our system and join the voters in the other districts who voted this year to bring a new majority to our school board.  Then, in two more years, we'll finish the job of electing board members who will govern responsibly.

First, you're starting to

First, you're starting to sound more and more like a conspiracy theorist. Are you sure there aren't black helicoptors flying over your home right now? Second, your theory would carry a lot more weight if you had the facts to back it up.

Remember that I am a Democrat. I want more funding for public schools. However, our side has been in control of the NC General Assembly forever (until recently). The Wake County Board of Commissioners had been controlled by Democrats for several years, until the last election. Those are the only groups that control funding for public education. You cannot blame Republicans for "defunding" public schools, when our side has had so much control recently.

And please, spare me the "we can't do anything because of the economy" rhetoric. There's always going to be one reason or another for any politician not to want to spend additional taxpayer money. Neither side has made any committment to public education in a very long time.

And I think you're correct -- people in District 3 will likely re-elect Hill next week. We'll have a new majority. A word of caution though. Don't assume that everything will be peaches and cream. If the recent behavior of Martin and Evans is any indication, they are going to alienate their fair share of people. Quotas or set-asides in student assignment will cause a backlash equal to or greater than the one that your side has generated over the past two years.

Jeffrey,I'm sure you


I'm sure you wouldn't refer to yourself as a Blue Dog Democrat, (Okay, I don't even know if you grew up in the South.) but you repeatedly remind us of your party affiliation, and then roll like a Republican.

I will give you props for being articulate and well-informed.  But I have a hard time putting blame on either side alone for the nation's gridlock.  The Republicans need to take credit for being the party of no.  And the Democrats wouldn't get wet if you threw them into the Pacific.

If you want to sound like someone who wants more funding for public schools, perhaps you should remember historically who has supported them, supports them now, and will support them in the future.

And, if you simply follow the money from the Kochs and the like right on down, you won't need to see black helicopters to know something is amiss...that is...if you're actually willing to look.

Excellent words of caution

Evans and Martin will be the new Head and Millberg.

On their best day.

I despise Head and Millberg,

I despise Head and Millberg, but even they do not deserve to be compared to Evans and Martin.

She was a stripper.  what

She was a stripper.  what do you think?  I'm surprised she didn't just tell everyone she was an 'accountant'.

She could have lied like Susan Evans

and said she was a CPA.

I will point out that

I will point out that Losurdo says she was a waitress.


Words are free and cheap. She can say anything and will to get elected!

Word are free and cheap...as

Word are free and cheap...as you have clearly proven.

You can point it out all you want...

You can point it out all you want, but you are dealing with an idiot in Joe $#itheel.


"cocktail waitress"....................at a strip club.  My apologies for the error.

and your point?

People who made mistakes in their youth and, as a result had to take unsavory jobs should be forever excluded from the Wake County School Board?

I guess you just are stupidier than we ever imagined...

I guess you just are stupidier than we ever imagined as you keep making that same "error" over and over.

You are...

one angry poster. Sheesh!

Angry? No, just

Angry? No, just informative... admitedly, in the this case, pointing out $#itheel's stupidity is just pointing out the obviosus.

Please understand...

that students also read these pages. If you are concerned for their welfare, then try to present less of a vitriolic stance, at least for their sake.

No. If it bothers you, stop

No. If it bothers you, stop reading them. Also, I find it interesting that you find no offense in Joey $#!theel referring to a parent and school board candidate as a stripper. Hypocrite.

Like you would differentiate

Like you would differentiate if the candidate in question was a democrat.  Hypocrite.

I'd feel the same either

I'd feel the same either way. She was gainfully and legally employed as a young woman (18 years ago!) at a caberet in New Orleans. This has no bearing whatsoever on anything happening today in 2011.

However, thanks for revealing that you did differentiate by partisanship.

I've already said that it

I've already said that it doesn't bother me that she had the job and I understand why she wouldn't put that job in her campaign literature.

Try again.

which 'error' would that

which 'error' would that be?  the fact that you continue to discuss that Losurdo worked in a strip club?   no matter how you spin this one, you can't make it sound any better.  

didn't Losurdo recently say

didn't Losurdo recently say she was the financial "under dog"? does she ever tell the truth?

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.