A 19-year-old student garnered the highest number of grass-roots donations, while two political action committees and prominent contributors are fueling candidates in New Braunfels City Council races and school district trustees elections, according to public records.
A total of 14 candidates are on the May 1 ballot, seeking two positions each on the New Braunfels City Council and New Braunfels and Comal independent school districts – the most since 11 vied for council and Comal ISD slots in 2003 and before New Braunfels ISD shifted to spring elections in 2008.
Brittany Soto, a college student seeking to unseat the incumbent Comal ISD board treasurer, totaled 29 donations, while council hopefuls Harry Bowers and Joy Harvey raised and spent the most in the Herald-Zeitung’s review of donations, loans and campaign expenditures filed last week and covering the period ending March 22.
The state’s campaign finance law requires periodic reports from candidates 30 days and eight days prior to the May 1 election. Each hopeful, including those with prior declarations, recently filed reports that are subject to review by the Texas Ethics Commission.
Reports were due at City Hall and school district headquarters by 5 p.m. Thursday, April 1, with reports filed by New Braunfels ISD’s five candidates forwarded by the district on Monday. Filings did not necessarily reflect totals for incumbents filing biannual reports on funds from prior campaigns.
All trustees and council seats are for three-year terms.
New Braunfels city elections
New Braunfels residents will also decide to add up to 18 amendments to the city’s charter – and the two council races where PAC donations and supporters are backing Bowers and Harvey.
In the District 3 race, Bowers, seeking his second term, raised $6,766 and spent $4,928 while challenger Kevin Robles reported no donations and spent $115 during the period and $901 total.
Harvey, vying against Lawrence Spradley to succeed retiring District 4 incumbent Matthew Hoyt, raised $6,783 (includes a $500 in-kind contribution) and spent $4,312. Spradley raised $2,671 and spent $2,142 during the period. His contributors included Comal County GOP Chair Sue Piner, Robbie Borchers, Susan Walker, John Kennedy and Seth Ayott.
Bowers, who received 34 total contributions, has $1,938 in cash on hand. Harvey, with five of 10 donations totaling $500, has $2,452 on hand. Both received $400 from Raba-Kistner PAC, Inc. and individuals who included Barron Casteel, Frank Suhr, Pat and Becky Wiggins and Troy and Sherry Burch.
New Braunfels ISD election
PAC contributions are also backing two New Braunfels ISD trustees candidates. The Texas Association of Realtors PAC, or TREPAC, pledged $250 each to District 3 board incumbent Eric Bergquist and District 5 challenger Steve Minus.
Bergquist, seeking a second term, reported $500 in contributions and $292 in expenses for the period, while challenger John Porter reported a $120 loan to himself, with $100 outstanding.
In the race to succeed retiring four-term incumbent and board President Sherry Harrison, Minus received $4,350 in donations that included 2,500 from family members and spent $3,813. Brian Grenier reported $558 in expenditures that included $266 in incurred obligations and $292 spent from personal funds. Betty Niven reported three $50 donations, a $30 self-loan and $401 in expenditures.
Comal ISD election
In Comal ISD’s District 1, Soto, from McQueeney, raised $755 from her donations that included one $75 donation, three $50 donations, and 16 who contributed $25 and six who donated $10. She reported $300 in recurring expenses.
Jerry Sauceda reported one $50 donation and no funds spent, while incumbent Tim Hennessee, 50, the current board treasurer, reported raising $793 without expenditures.
In District 2, Courtney Biasatti, raised $4,855 and spent $2,104 in her race against four-term incumbent and board President David Drastata, who reported no funds raised or spent during the period.
Biasatti received $500 each from former Comal ISD trustee Steve Smith and Kerry Gain, the district’s former academic chief now at Del Valle ISD.
District trustees meeting in April will likely cancel the District 5 race, where incumbent and board Secretary Michelle Ann Ross failed to draw a challenger for her second term.
The Herald-Zeitung will feature candidates’ responses to selected questions prior to the start of early voting. The last day for voters to submit applications for ballots by mail is Tuesday, April 20; early voting begins Monday, April 19 and ends Tuesday, April 27.