Doug Benevento

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Doug Benevento
Doug-Benevento.jpg
Board Member, Douglas County School District E
Incumbent
Term ends
November 2017
Years in position 5
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 5, 2013
First electedNovember 3, 2009
Term limitsN/A
Education
Bachelor'sUniversity of Colorado
Master'sJohns Hopkins University
J.D.University of Denver
Personal
ProfessionAttorney
Websites
Office website
Doug Benevento currently represents District E on the Douglas County Board of Education in Colorado. He first won election to the board in 2009. Benevento won re-election against Bill Hodges in the school board election on November 5, 2013.

Biography

Benevento, an attorney, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado. He later received his Masters degree from John Hopkins University and his J.D. from the University of Denver. He has worked as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and as a Senior Policy Advisor to former U.S. Senator Wayne Allard.

Elections

2013

Opposition

Benevento was opposed by Bill Hodges for the Director District E seat on the Douglas County Board of Education.

Results

Douglas County School Board of Directors, Four-year term, District E, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDoug Benevento Incumbent 51.8% 52,165
     Nonpartisan Bill Hodges 48.2% 48,518
Total Votes 100,683
Source: Douglas County Elections, "2013 Coordinated Election," November 21, 2013

Funding

Benevento reported $44,884.85 in contributions and $39,909.46 in expenditures to the Colorado Secretary of State, which left his campaign with $4,975.39 on hand.[1]

Endorsements

In 2013, Benevento was endorsed by the Douglas County Republican Party[2]

2009

Benevento ran for election to the Board of Education in 2009. He was opposed by Kristine Turner in the election. Benevento raised a total of $27,550.92 in 2009. The campaign was endorsed by the Douglas County Republican Party.[3]

Douglas County Board of Education, 2009
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDoug Benevento 56.1% 25,542
     Nonpartisan Kristine Turner 43.9% 19,989
Total Votes 45,531

Campaign themes

2013

In an interview with Our Colorado News, Benevento explained his views on the district's most pressing issues:[4]

1. Funding the classroom — My opponent was HR director for the district when it paid over $300,000 of salaries to union bosses who performed no work for the district. If elected there's no doubt he would resume that practice. We can't divert money from our kids and teachers to pay union organizers.

2. Pay for Performance — We need to pay our best teachers so we retain them and also attract the best teachers. As HR director in the district my opponent advocated a union approved wage scale which rewards our best teachers the same as our ineffective teachers. I will support a strong pay for performance system.

3. Choice — We need to offer and support multiple educational options for parents to choose from, neighborhood schools, charter schools, online schooling so that kids can be put in an environment that gives them the best chance to succeed.[5]

What was at stake?

Four seats, including that of the board president, were at stake. John Carson, the incumbent in District B, was not running for re-election. Barbra Chase Burke and James Geddes were running for election to the seat. Carson, who was first elected to the board in 2005, was ineligible to run for another term because of Amendment 17 to the Colorado Constitution, which says that no "elected official of any...school district....shall serve more than two consecutive terms in office."

The District D race included newcomers Judi Reynolds and Julie Keim running for the seat currently held by Carrie Mendoza. Stephen Boyd announced that he would run in the District D race but withdrew before filing his nomination petition so that he would not "split the vote."[6] Incumbent Benevento faced challenger Bill Hodges in the District E race. Ronda Scholting filed with the Colorado Secretary of State to challenge for Meghann Silverthorn's seat in District G.

Issues


DougCo Parents Want Change

Alleged campaign violations

District D candidate Julie Keim filed a complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State on October 17, 2013, alleging that the school district used resources to support its preferred school board candidates and to deny challengers information regarding the involvement of outside groups and individuals in the election. Keim requested copies of emails between district officials with supporters including Americans for Prosperity, the Independence Institute and campaign contributors like Alex Cranberg and Ralph Nagel.[7] Texas businessman Alex Cranberg and investment banker Ralph Nagel co-founded the Alliance for Choice in Education to promote school choice and contributed approximately 89% of the $156,701.50 in campaign donations reported by Doug Benevento, James Geddes, Judi Reynolds and Meghann Silverthorn.[8]

District administration conducted a search for the requested correspondence that turned up more than 13,000 e-mails, 101 of which Keim had received by October 23. She criticized administrators for the slow pace and claimed, "I think they’re trying to delay so nothing can be exposed before the election. [...]I want them to be open and honest and truly transparent about what is going on with all these organizations. It’s concerning to me so many people who are not local have such a voice in our future." School board Vice President Kevin Larsen responded to her allegations by labeling them "[...]a patently frivolous political stunt masquerading as a complaint." District legal counsel Rob Ross explained the delay by stating that each e-mail must be reviewed by district personnel for legally protected information before being disclosed.[7]

Administrative Law Judge Hollyce Farrell ruled in December 2013 that the district violated the Fair Campaign Practices Act by using public funds to commission a report that promoted reform policies during the 2013 campaign. The district used $15,000 in public funds to pay Rick Hess, an education expert with the American Enterprise Institute, to write a report titled "The Most Interesting School District in America?" Farrell concluded that the report was an improper use of funds on behalf of incumbents seeking re-election. Farrell did not require a fine from the district, which plans to appeal the decision in higher court.[9]

Audio editing controversy

In late September, Meghann Silverthorn accused challenger Ronda Scholting of selectively editing a September 13 interview between Silverthorn and local radio host Mike Rosen. The interview featured a discussion of the motivations behind efforts to replace current board members in the 2013 election. Rosen stated, "These are nice, well-meaning, naive soccer moms who can’t distinguish between an individual teacher and the collective menace and intransigence of a teachers’ union with its political power" and Silverthorn agreed with the statement. Scholting's ad includes Rosen saying, "You’re up against mostly women. Nice, well-meaning, naive soccer moms," and audio of Silverthorn's agreement with Rosen. Scholting notes that her editing was comparable to techniques used by broadcast journalists while Silverthorn believes the ad does not truly represent her position on district policies.[10]

Rally outside district offices

A September 27 demonstration outside of the district's administrative offices featured 200 attendees marching in support of local teachers. Demonstrators held signs that supported teachers and opposed the board's reform efforts over the past four years. According to interviews with the Denver Post, attendees argued that teachers were frustrated by limited instructional time, new evaluations and the district's attitude toward instructional staff. District officials have countered these claims by citing internal surveys with teachers that revealed high morale and greater flexibility in the classroom.[11]

Involvement of community groups

Local groups ramped up efforts to support incumbents and challengers in the 2013 election. DougCo Champions for Kids is a non-profit that is also registered as a part of Texas-based firm C3 Solutions. This organization supported the reform efforts of the current board through direct mail and door-to-door campaigning. DougCo Champions for Kids received some funding from the Independence Institute, a Denver-based think tank that promotes free market principles. The C3 Solutions executive board features two officers who are affiliated with the institute. Another pro-board group is the Douglas County Education Alliance, which has been connected with an Arizona consultancy called DC-London founded by Republican adviser Sean Noble.[12]

Challengers in the 2013 race were supported by a non-profit called the Strong Schools Coalition and a political action committee (PAC) called Douglas County Parents. Strong Schools Coalition received $4,000 in donations according to group president Lauren Mutton. The group stated that it is self-funded with contributions from Taxpayers for Public Education used for legal fees associated with a lawsuit against the district's voucher program.[12]


Americans for Prosperity, "It's Working"

Board reform efforts

The board's reform efforts including a voucher program, dissolution of the teachers' union agreement and a pay-for-performance plan became the focus of attention in the 2013 campaign. Strong Schools Coalition led efforts to reverse some of these reforms and eliminate political involvement in board functions.[13] The state chapter of Americans for Prosperity ran ads in the region starting in August supporting the board's reform efforts while admonishing critics.[14]

Partisanship in board races

Though Colorado school boards are officially nonpartisan, Douglas County has drawn attention for the involvement of the local Republican Party in board elections. In the 2009 and 2011 elections, the Douglas County Republican Party endorsed the six current members and former member Dan Gerken.[15] The party endorsed incumbents Benevento and Meghann Silverthorn as well as challengers James Geddes and Judi Reynolds for the 2013 campaign.[16] Former District G candidate Nicholas Land criticized the board as too loyal to the Republican Party and wanted the board to represent the entire community regardless of partisan affiliation.[17] Former District D candidate Kevin Leung refused to interview with the Douglas County Republicans after starting his campaign. "I believe that local, nonpartisan school board elections should not be drawn into party politics. Decisions and agendas should not become strongly influenced by party ideologies instead of serving the people and the children in our schools," said Leung.[18]

About the district

See also: Douglas County School District, Colorado
Douglas County School District is located in Douglas County, CO
Douglas County School District is located in Douglas County, Colorado. Douglas County is located between the cities of Denver and Colorado Springs and the county seat is Castle Rock. According to the 2010 US Census, Douglas County is home to 285,465 residents.[19]

Demographics

Douglas County outperforms the rest of Colorado based on average household income, poverty rate and graduation rates in 2011. The average household income in Douglas County was $101,193 compared to $57,685 for the state of Colorado. The poverty rate in Douglas County was 3.5% compared to 12.5% for the entire state. The U.S. Census also found that 54.6% of Douglas County residents aged 25 years and older attained a bachelor's degree compared to a 36.3% in Colorado.[19]


Recent news

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Doug Benevento News Feed

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See also

External links

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References

  1. Colorado TRACER, "Candidate Detail," Accessed December 20, 2013
  2. Our Colorado News,,"Local Republicans endorse candidates," August 19, 2013
  3. Douglas County Republican Party,,"Douglas County Republican School Board Endorsements," Accessed Sept. 5, 2013
  4. Our Colorado News, "Q&As with candidates for Douglas County School Board," October 17, 2013
  5. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  6. Jane Reuter, OurParkerNews.com, "Candidate field changes as election draws closer," August 22, 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 Jane Reuter, OurHighlandsRanchNews.com, "Candidate alleges campaign violation," October 23, 2013
  8. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named campaign
  9. Zahira Torres, Denver Post, "Judge: Douglas County school district violated fair campaign laws," December 27, 2013
  10. Jane Reuter, Our Colorado News, "Radio show cut ignites candidate controversy," September 30, 2013
  11. Carlos Illescas, Denver Post, "More than 200 people rally against Douglas County school policies," September 27, 2013
  12. 12.0 12.1 Jane Reuter, Our Colorado News, "Variety of groups joining school fray," September 25, 2013
  13. Jane Reuter, OurLoneTreeNews.com, "Petition decries politics in school elections," August 21, 2013
  14. Jane Reuter, OurLoneTreeNews.com, "School board election gearing up," July 8, 2013
  15. Jane Reuter, OurCastleRockNews.com, "Douglas County GOP hosts school board," January 19, 2013
  16. Jane Reuter, Highlands Ranch News, "Local Republicans endorse candidates," August 19, 2013
  17. Clayton Woullard, DenverPost.com, "Douglas County teen to run for school board," June 26, 2013
  18. Kevin Leung, EdNews Voices, "Voices: Declining a party endorsement in school board elections," July 25, 2013
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 U.S. Census, "Douglas County Quick Facts, Accessed July 16, 2013
  20. Colorado Secretary of State, “Voter Registration Numbers,” Accessed July 19, 2013