Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Taylor Lyons addresses the Hamilton County School Board during a meeting on Thursday, March 17, 2022.

With only days to go before Thursday's election, the 14 candidates vying for six seats on the Hamilton County Board of Education have collectively raised roughly $180,000 in the state's first-ever partisan school board election.

As of July 28, the last filing deadline before elections on Aug. 4, Democrats outpaced their Republican counterparts in campaign contributions — $100,837 to $77,715.

But Republican Virginia Anne Manson, of Lookout Mountain, running for District 11, raked in a total of $52,795 — the highest amount raised by any school board candidate. Manson's Democrat opponent Jill Black, also of Lookout Mountain, was the second-highest fundraiser with $48,555.

Manson's donors include philanthropists and founders of Chattanooga Preparatory Academy Ted and Kelly Alling, CEO of Legacy Box Nick Macco and president of WRS Real Estate Investments Scott Smith.

Black's donors include philanthropist Norma Mills, owner of Kurita Construction Kyle Kurita, philanthropist Alice Smith, Four Bridges PAC and departing school board member Jenny Hill.

Democrat Ben Connor, of Chattanooga, running for District 6, was the third-highest fundraiser at $34,887. Connor raised significantly more than his GOP opponent, Jon Baker, of Chattanooga, who, for the most part, self-funded a $2,029 campaign.

Connor's donors include attorney Brian Mickles, entrepreneur Steven Culp; Double Cola CEO Alnoor Dhanani; Kerry Hayes, former chief of staff to former Mayor Andy Berke; City Attorney Emily O'Donnell; and Hill.

James Mills, Robert Mills and Olan Mills II donated $1,600 apiece to every Democratic candidate with the exception of Jeff Crim, of Chattanooga, who is running for District 10. Combined, the Mills' donations total approximately $24,000.

Other notable contributions:

District 3

District 3 incumbent Joe Smith, R-Hixson, out-raised Democrat challenger Jenn Piroth, of Hixson, by nearly double: $7,420 to $4,583. Piroth did not file her pre-general campaign disclosure, which was due Friday.

Smith's donors include Hamilton County Republican Chairman Arch Trimble, judge candidate Boyd Patterson, sheriff candidate Austin Garrett and Assessor of Property Marty Haynes.

District 5

Incumbent Karitsa Jones, D-Chattanooga, raised $3,962, slightly more than her GOP challenger, Charles Paty, of Chattanooga, who raised $3,354.

Paty's donors include James Walker, a departing school board member.

Jones' donors include Hill.

District 8

Katie Perkins, D-Chattanooga, out-raised her GOP opponent, Larry Grohn, of East Ridge: $8,850 to $6,395. Grohn did not file his pre-general campaign disclosure, which was due Friday.

From throughout the campaign, Grohn's donors have included Walker, businessman Tom Decosimo, who ran unsuccessfully for school board in 2020, and Judge Russell Bean.

Perkins' donors include school board member Tiffanie Robinson and Democratic state Rep. Yusuf Hakeem

District 10

Crim and independent Christine Essex, of Ooltewah, have not filed any campaign disclosures. Faye Robinson, R-Ooltewah, raised $5,722.

District 11

In addition to Manson and Black, independent Steve McKinney, of Chattanooga, is running for District 11. He reported raising $4,610.

Contact Carmen Nesbitt at or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @carmen_nesbitt.