Teachers Unions Spent Nearly $50K on School Races

Frances Floresca

School board candidates backed by teachers unions usually fared far better than their opponents during last month’s elections.

Five of the seven candidates who received money from either the Clark County Education Association, the Washoe Education Association or the Nevada State Education Association were victorious.

A question in the minds of some is who are winning school board members representing – teachers unions or families? Candidates in the state’s two biggest counties received nearly $50,000 in contributions in total from the three teachers unions.

Whether backed by unions or not, school board members must be accountable to families, according to education advocate and Clark County mother Charlie de la Paz.

Parents found that school boards and unions were making choices for students despite what parents wanted, she said.

“We should have been listened to as the majority first and foremost,” de la Paz added.

Altogether, 10 school board candidates received union support in the form of campaign donations, endorsements or both from teachers unions, either the Clark County Education Association (CCEA), the Washoe Education Association (WEA) or the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA).

In races featuring candidates with teachers union support, only Colleen Westlake in Washoe County and Brenda Zamora in Clark County were able to defeat union-backed opponents. In the latter case, Zamora and her opponent received endorsements from different teachers unions.

In Clark County School District, the fifth largest in the nation, Zamora beat incumbent Irene Cepeda in District D, Irene Bustamante Adams defeated incumbent Danielle Ford in District F and Linda Cavazos retained her seat against Greg Wieman in District G.

Bustamante Adams, Cepeda and Wieman each received $10,000 from CCEA, through Sept. 30, the most recent data available, along with that union’s endorsement. Zamora, Ford and Cavazos received endorsements from NSEA.

In Washoe County Colleen Westlake beat incumbent Ellen Minetto in District B, Joseph Rodriguez retained his seat against Melanie Sutton in District C and Adam Mayberry kept his seat against Graeme Reid in District F. In addition, Elizabeth Smith retained her seat in District F after the primary in June.

Minetto and Rodriguez each received $5,000 from the Nevada State Education Association, while Mayberry received $1,000 from NSEA. All three received $2,000 from Washoe Education Association through Sept. 30. All three also received NSEA and WEA endorsements.

Sitting Washoe County school board member Angela Taylor won a seat in the Nevada Assembly, leaving a vacancy in District E. As a result, a new trustee will have to be appointed by the school board.

The only candidate outside Clark and Washoe counties to get union money was Kristin Reeves of Mineral County, who received $500 from the NSEA. Reeves, who also got an NSEA endorsement, won her race.

Reports for political contributions received by candidates in the final quarter of the year are due Jan. 15, 2023.

To see school board race results from other Nevada counties, click here.

Frances Floresca

Frances Floresca

Director of Education Policy Initiatives

Frances Floresca joined Nevada Policy as the Director of Education Policy Initiatives in 2022, and she has considered herself an advocate for education freedom long before getting involved with politics. She and her sister attended different school types growing up, and even then, she realized that different students have different needs.

She previously worked for Independent Women’s Network and Citizens Against Government Waste. She has been invited to the White House and was cited in the 2021 Republican Study Committee’s budget proposal to Congress. Frances’s work has also been recognized in the Washington Examiner, InsideSources, Deseret News, and The Salt Lake Tribune. During college, she wrote for Campus Reform and worked on campaigns.

She also represented Utah in the Cherry Blossom Princess Program in Washington, D.C. in 2021, and she is also an avid classical singer having sung for high-ranking officials from around the world and the national anthem for events around the country. In December 2019, she received her B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Utah. Frances was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah and has also lived in Washington, D.C. She now resides with her husband and son in Henderson, Nevada.