Rebecca Budd was the winner in Tuesday’s run-off race for the office No. 2 seat on the Oklahoma City Public Schools board of education. The geographic area that seat represents is the northwest corner of the sprawling district.
She edged out Nick Singer by 200 votes. The final vote count was Budd, 1613 to Singer’s 1413.
Even though Singer tried to make Budd’s self-loan of $17,500 for the race an issue, along with the fact of her children receiving a private school education, it wasn’t enough to yield a win for the campaign veteran.
In 2012, Singer ran as a Democrat for the state House District 87 seat and lost in the general election.
Tuesday’s run-off races for three of the board seats came down to who had the most and best connections with parents and other passionate stakeholders in OKCPS, the largest district in the state.
Budd has been an involved volunteer at both Wilson Elementary and Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary schools. In addition, she is seen at almost all school board meetings. She has made it a point to get to know parents and other volunteers at the two schools and has shown herself to be an advocate of the schools that often need volunteers to convey their needs.
Singer is involved as a staff member for the Oklahoma Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union.
That could have been a big plus for him in most districts around the state. But the OEA does not bargain for teachers in OKCPS. The American Federation of Teachers affiliate local is their official representative, and so there was little connection with the teachers of the district even though there was no hostility.
Budd’s victory mirrored another win on the same night for Paula Lewis, a highly involved parent and sitting board member in the district who successfully ran for chair of the board.
Lewis turned in a decisive victory, besting opponent Stan Hupfeld by a 700 vote margin in spite of Hupfeld’s raising four times more in campaign donations than Lewis.
Most significantly, Lewis won against a strong favorite of some of Oklahoma City’s wealthiest and most powerful people.
And she won despite her opponent receiving the strong endorsement by the city’s metro daily newspaper, The Oklahoman.
Between Budd and Lewis, one significant lesson from the evening seemed to be that those who were the most connected to the most passionate stakeholders in the district were the ones who won.
Singer made the amount of money Budd had raised an issue of the campaign saying that Budd had raised $100,000. But official campaign finance reports of both candidates dated March 27, 2017, show different figures for Budd.
Her report shows that she loaned $17,500 to herself. She raised $13,975 from individuals, $2,000 from the Oklahoma City Realtors political action committee and $1,015.24 of in-kind contributions. Her total received for the campaign was $34,490.24.
Singer’s report showed he raised $8,471 from individuals.
Budd told Free Press that the top priority job as she and others take their seats on the board is to deal with the funding issues the state is handing the district.
“We have to start working on budgeting for next year. It’s going to be a very difficult year,” said Budd.
“There are going to be a lot of very tough decisions to make and work through,” Budd said. ”And the sooner we start that process the more security we can provide to our teachers and our principals.”
She said that she does not agree with the way the Legislature has consistently cut funding for public schools. And she vowed to lobby the Legislature about the issue of funding.
“Just as much as you’ve seen me at the school board, I’m sure the legislators will start seeing me just as much,” she said.