Campaign spending varies among school board candidates

Some taking more spartan approach to finance than others

There are six candidates for three open seats on the Aspen Board of Education. The candidates gathered on stage at the Aspen District Theatre in Aspen Elementary School during the candidate forum on Thursday, October 14, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

In the race for three seats on the Aspen School District Board of Education, some of the six candidates have taken a more spartan approach to campaign finance than others, contribution and expenditure reports show.

Anna Zane and incumbent Susan Zimet are neck-and-neck when it comes to campaign spending. Zane reported $2,178.57 and Zimet reported $2,271.35 in expenditures as of the most recent Oct. 18 filing deadline, which tracks spending up through Oct. 13.

Stacey Weiss and Christa Gieszl have likewise logged comparable expenditures: Weiss has spent $1,078.94 and Gieszl has spent $924.75 since the campaign began.

Lawrence Butler and John Galambos have been the most frugal in their spending habits: neither have reported a single dime spent on the campaign as of mid-October.

Most of the money spent in this campaign season has been for advertising — namely, yard signs, newspaper ads, and other printed materials according to itemized expenditure reports. A few occurrences of bank fees also crop up on the reports.

On the campaign contribution side, Zane takes the lead with $5,150 in donations as of mid-October, as well as a $1,000 loan reported for the campaign.

Weiss logged the second-highest contribution total, with $2,813.33 in donations and a $500 loan. Galambos has reported $433.34 in contributions, and Butler has not yet reported any contributions via TRACER.


All candidates are required to file expenditure reports leading up to the election using TRACER, Colorado’s campaign finance filing system and database.

Only candidates who accept or solicit outside contributions are required to register a committee and report those contributions, according to a campaign finance manual produced by the Secretary of State. Four candidates in the Aspen school board race fall into that category: Lawrence Butler, John Galambos, Stacey Weiss and Anna Zane.

Those who spend only their own money on campaigns don’t have to register a committee and don’t have to report contributions since they aren’t accepting any. The rule applies to Christa Gieszl and Susan Zimet, who are only required to submit expenditure reports because they aren’t accepting or soliciting contributions through a committee.

The most recent filing deadline of Oct. 18 includes reporting through Oct. 13. There’s one more filing deadline before the election, with reports due Nov. 1 for the period through Oct. 27; another report will be due Dec. 2 for the period through Nov. 27.

Zimet and Gieszl have not reported any contributions because they are not soliciting or accepting outside funding, according to the database.

Most donations have come from individuals with Pitkin County home addresses, with a few out-of-state exceptions.

But three candidates — Weiss, Galambos and Butler — also received support from the Public Education Committee, a political action committee composed of members of the Colorado Education Association teachers union, according to association president Amie Baca-Oehlert.

Decisions on which candidates to support are based on recommendations made by local committees, according to Baca-Oehlert. Weiss, Butler and Galambos also received the endorsement of the Aspen Education Association, which is a branch of the Colorado Education Association and the countrywide National Education Association.

The committee split $1,000 three ways: $333.33 for Weiss and Butler and $333.34 to Galambos, according to Oct. 5 and Oct. 18 expenditure reports for the group. The donations to Weiss and Galambos have been logged on their contribution reports; the donation to Butler did not appear on his TRACER profile as of Oct. 21.

Funds come from voluntary donations to the committee from association members across the state and donations to candidates vary based on the size of the local district and association, Baca-Oehlert said.


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