One of the hottest and most expensive races on the ballot in Nashville is for the Metro school board.
Seventeen candidates are battling for five seats, and the race could have big implications for a district struggling to succeed.
Money and politics always go hand and hand, and this year the school board election won't be any different. One candidate has raised $10, while another checks in at more than $100,000.
"It's a complex business enterprise that requires quality leadership," said candidate Margaret Dolan.
Dolan, campaigning in District 9, brought in more than six times the amount of her closest competitor.
"My name's never been on a ballot, so while I've done a lot of work in the community, I started off with zero name recognition," Dolan said.
Other heavy hitters include Elissa Kim. She raised more than $81,000 for her race in District 5, which is some four times more than current board president Gracie Porter's $18,000.
Candidate John Haubenreich raised about half that partly, he said, on purpose. He turned down money from political action committees.
"It's very clear that there are powerful interests that want to influence the outcome and the makeup of the board," Haubenreich said. "For me, I've made it an effort in my campaign to represent not those powerful interests, but rather the folks in my neighborhood."
Not everyone agrees. This year, PACs popped up to push reform, including the issue of charter schools.
One of the groups, Great Public Schools, kicked in $7,100 for Dolan, Kim and District 3 candidate Jared DeLozier.
The money helped put all three on top in the coffers, even though Dolan insisted it will not influence her voice if she wins.
"Whatever the question is, my litmus test is, 'what's it going to do to the children's ability to be successful in school?'" she said.
Early voting in Davidson County began July 13.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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