Caldwell, executive director of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture & Business, has raised about $1.3 million.
Tuesday’s general election is near, and candidates are scrambling to make last-minute pushes to win seats.
Down the ballot along the South Coast are several competitive races fueled by conservatives taking on liberal incumbents in what are technically nonpartisan races.
Among the most compelling contests this year is in the Santa Barbara Unified School District, where three incumbents, endorsed by the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, are looking to hold on to their seats against a conservative push.
Also endorsed by the party is incumbent Jacqueline Reid, who has raised about $30,000.
Incumbent Wendy Sims-Moten has raised $22,437, with about $6,600 coming from the teachers fund.
A surprise competitor in the contest who has surged in recent days is 27-year-old Elrawd MacLearn, who has lived on the South Coast for less than two years. MacLearn has raised $20,500 for his candidacy, pulling in big money from education advocacy group Impact Education totaling $5,300, $1,000 from political consultant John Davies and $2,000 from Alice Amspoker, who is listed on campaign contribution statements as a violin instructor.
MacLearn, a county building inspector, has poured much of his money into social media and placed his face on his yard signs. He’s technically registered as a “No Party Preference” candidate but is conservative and has blasted the incumbents for not doing more to raise the literacy rates of Hispanic and Latinx students.
Another candidate who could surprise people on election night is Virginia Alvarez, a chief business official and human resources administrator for the Montecito Union School District. Bilingual and a woman of color, she has raised $25,000. She is not endorsed by the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, but snagged an endorsement from the teachers association away from Reid. She received $6,600 from the teachers fund and $1,000 from the Santa Barbara County Democratic Women. She also has received $9,800 from John Michael Lind.
Candidate Monie de Wit has not raised money, according to campaign filings.
A similar situation is playing out in the Goleta Union School District.
Incumbent Sholeh Jahangir is running for a second term, but there’s an open seat because Susan Epstein is stepping away from the board. Jahangir has raised about $16,000 in her bid to keep her seat, without about $10,000 coming from Mike and Meryam Molyneux.
She faces a challenge from two other Democrats who come from different backgrounds. Patricia “Max” Rorty is endorsed by the county Democratic Party and has raised about $24,000. Vicki Ben Yaacov has two children in the district, regularly speaks at board meetings and has a history of activism in the district. She has raised about $7,000.
Republican Caroline Abate, who has publicly supported President Donald Trump, is perhaps the contest’s biggest surprise, raising $16,000. Abate, an elementary school teacher at St. Raphael School, has worked hard with fundraising in the campaign.
Also on the ballot is Devany Bechler, a candidate popular with families in the district who has raised about $3,000.
Candidate Greg Hammel has not reported any campaign finance fundraising dollars.
Perotte has raised $44,000 and is endorsed by the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, with her largest donation from the Laborers Local 220 Political Action Committee.
Aceves, a retired police detective, has raised about $74,000 in his bid to unseat Perotte. Aceves is regarded as a pro-business candidate. He is the only Latino to ever get elected to the Goleta City Council. His largest donation was from Howard Hakes, president of Hitchcock Automotive, for $5,000.
Two seats are open in the race for the Goleta City Council.
Kasdin has raised about $13,000, and Richards about $20,000. Both candidates are endorsed by the county Democratic Party.
Shores has raised about $24,000. Wallace and Wallach did not report raising any money.