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DCTA names endorsements

The pace is picking up in what is expected to be a lively campaign for the Denver school board. Wednesday, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association released its endorsements, labeling four of the 11 candidates as its champions of education.

The union endorsement carries some weight – in past years, the teachers’  union has been key in contributing time and money to its candidates.

DCTA President Henry Roman said the union picks are Andrea Merida in southwest Denver, Christopher Scott for an at-large seat, incumbent Jeanne Kaplan in central Denver and Nate Easley in northeast Denver.

“First, we believe they are champions of education, all of them,” Roman said. “They believe strongly in accountability for all and parental involvement. And they strongly support our neighborhood schools.”

The picks were made after teachers on the DCTA political action committee met with all 11 candidates over the summer.

How DCTA will assist in each campaign will be decided by the political action committee, Roman said, with advice from the Colorado Education Association.

“It’s up to our teachers to decide if they want to be involved in political action,” he said. “It’s not something that’s a requirement but we certainly have asked our members, if this is a shared interest of yours then definitely your help is welcome.”

The union’s influence in board races varies. But in 2005, the DCTA endorsement was credited by many with helping education consultant Jill Conrad defeat architect Brad Buchanan, despite Buchanan’s fund-raising edge. He spent more than $70,000 to Conrad’s $44,000 or so.

The Buchanan-Conrad race was then the most expensive Denver school board race in the city’s history and Buchanan took the unusual step of airing TV commercials in his bid for a seat.

But in 2007, the DCTA backing did not help John McBride, Laurence Botnick or Raymond Gutierrez, all of whom lost in their campaigns for board seats.

Then, the DCTA was a primary contributor to those candidates, with donations of $5,000 and $10,000 to their campaigns. Roman said the political action committee hasn’t decided how much to give to its endorsed candidates this election year.

“We do have limited resources in terms of funding,” he said, “but we will certainly help in any way we can.”

DCTA will post its endorsements on the union’s web site Thursday at www.denverclassroom.org.

Nancy Mitchell can be reached at nmitchell@pebc.org or 303-478-4573.

Candidates for the Denver Public Schools’ board of education

District 2, southwest Denver
Andrea Merida
Ismael Garcia

District 3, central Denver
Jeanne Kaplan

District 4, northeast Denver
Alton Clark
Nate Easley
Vernon Jones
Andrea Mosby
Jacqui Shumway

At-large seat
Christopher Scott
Deborah Sims-Fard
Mary Seawell