School board challengers get funds from teacher union

Thousands of dollars of cash poured into the nine-candidate race for four seats on the Modesto City Schools Board of Education over the past three weeks, according to campaign finance reports.

The Modesto Teachers Association emerged as the big spender in the race, pumping cash or nonmonetary contributions into the campaigns of challengers Solange Altman, Jim Standart, Ruben Villalobos and Sue Zwhalen.

Incumbents Nancy Cline and Cindy Marks, two social conservatives on the board, benefited from a boost in contributions from some Republican leaders.

Incumbents Steve Collins and Belinda Rolicheck picked up a few thousand dollars in contributions but generally kept their campaigns humming with loans.

Josh Vander Veen, another challenger, reported raising $520 since Sept. 20 and $1,825 this year. An earlier report that he did not file a statement was incorrect.

- Villalobos gained the most cash over the past three weeks, collecting $11,485 and nonmonetary contributions of $11,185. He has raised $36,868 over the past year. The teachers' union gave him $5,000 on Sept. 24. It previously gave him $4,000 in cash, and it has given him more than $11,000 donations by printing campaign mailings and literature.

- The teachers' union gave Zwhalen about $7,700 in in-kind contributions. She has loaned herself $7,900 and gathered $6,462 in contributions in increments of less than $500.

- Standart gained $8,153 in nonmonetary contributions from the union. He received $600 from the labor group in the last reporting period.

- Altman did not raise cash in the last reporting period, but she borrowed $2,500 and received $5,779 in signs, literature and mailings from the teachers' union.

- Marks, the incumbent who was rebuked by two of her colleagues last month because of her communications with school district employees other than Superintendent Arturo Flores, raised $5,214. Her supporters include Stanislaus County Supervisor and Republican leader Jim DeMartini, Republican leader Joan Clendenin, Modesto Mayor Jim Ridenour and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce. Marks has raised a total of $7,189 this year.

- Cline raised $2,260, bringing her year total to $9,215. She received $1,000 from the Chamber of Commerce and $200 from Mayor Ridenour.

- Collins collected $2,800 in the past month, including $1,000 from the chamber. He has loaned himself $10,000 for the race.

- Rolicheck raised $1,623 and borrowed $5,000. Her supporters include former City Councilwoman Kenni Friedman and Modesto City Schools Trustee Gary Lopez.

Bee assistant city editor Adam Ashton can be reached at or 578-2366.