Hightower tops all school board candidates in money raised, spent; Sanborn close behind

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 1, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY — The campaign of Brian Hightower, the former East Rowan High School head baseball coach vying for the East area seat on the school board, has spent the most out of the four candidates who have filed third quarter campaign finance reports.

Hightower’s campaign generated $5,223.95 during the third quarter and had $2,380 on hand to start. His competitor for the East area seat, retired Rowan-Salisbury Schools administrator Kathy McDuffie Sanborn, generated $5,119.60 for her campaign and began with $455.76 in cash on hand. Reports were due last week and had a cut-off date of Oct. 17.

While fundraising was close during the quarter, Hightower outspent Sanborn, with $6,158 for the former baseball coach to Sanborn’s $4,294.94.

Hightower made $1,000 in radio advertising purchases with both WSAT and Ford Broadcasting Network. He purchased $595 in advertising with the Post, donated $100 to the reelection campaign for State Sen. Carl Ford, R-33, and purchased $3,431 worth of signs from Chapman Custom Signs.

Sanborn’s purchases had more variety. Her campaign bought $209.86 worth of balloons, $601.91 worth of pens and $237.54 worth of T-shirts. She purchased $1,000 in radio advertising with WSAT and $2,576 in political signs from Harwood Signs. The campaign also received a contribution of 50 signs from an individual at a value of $299.60.

Jonathan Barbee, who is competing with incumbent Alisha Byrd-Clark for the Salisbury seat, also filed a campaign finance report after exceeding the spending threshold to do so. Candidates who do not exceed the threshold do not need to file campaign finance reports.

Barbee, a recent Catawba College graduate and a carpenter, began with no cash on hand and received $1,948.60 in total contributions. He spent $1,084.95 by the cutoff. Included in his contributions are $100 from himself and $1,263 from Perry Barbee, of the same address.

Barbee purchased $963 worth of signs from Stonetree Signs and paid Giovanni Spillman $121.95 for a “media reimbursement.”

Byrd-Clark topped the $1,000 threshold on Oct. 1. She also began the third quarter with no cash on hand and generated $1,635.60. She had $677.22 in cash on hand by the cutoff. Byrd-Clark spent $646.97 on campaign signs, $22.37 on campaign supplies from Family Dollar and Dollar Tree as well as $110.99 on masks and T-shirts.

Byrd-Clark also spent $178.15 on printing.

The other two candidates are Jennifer Studer and Susan Cox. Both filed for the Southeast area seat, but Cox, the incumbent, decided to concede the race to Studer.

Cox originally told the Post she would not run for reelection at the beginning of the year, but after no one stepped up and given the important decisions the board has been making since COVID-19 restrictions began in March, she decided to file.

Studer, a registered nurse at the W.G. Hefner V.A. Medical Center, met with Cox. The pair’s views aligned, and Cox agreed to put her support behind Studer instead.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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