WORCESTER – The only challenger in the Worcester School Committee race has filed more than $45,000 in campaign receipts prior to Tuesday’s election. This amount is nearly $30,000 more than the six incumbent committee members combined for 2017.

Dante Comparetto

Dante Comparetto, one of seven school committee candidates and the only non-incumbent, reported the highest number of receipts for a school committee campaign in recent memory. Over the past five years, the highest in campaign receipts was just over $14,000 from incumbent Donna Colorio in 2015 — nearly $30,000 less than Comparetto’s 2017 receipts.

During the calendar year of 2017, Comparetto reported $45,316 in receipts. An additional $10,362 in campaign receipts was filed between July and December 2016.

According to Comparetto’s campaign finance report ending on Monday, Oct. 30, Comparetto had nearly $8k in campaign finances carried over from 2016. When combined with 2017’s fundraising, Comparetto had just over $53k in receipts since the start of his campaign. Comparetto spent more than $45,500 in 2017 — leaving him with a balance of $7,664.20 at the end of October.

Although Comparetto began 2017 with $7,836 in campaign funding leftover from 2016, over the course of the first 10 months of 2017, Comparetto made three separate donations to his campaign from his own personal finances totaling $28,150 [$16,000 (4/24/17), $7200 (10/5/17), and $4950 (10/19/17).

In other words, Comparetto contributed all but $17,166 to his campaign — roughly 62 percent of the fundraising in 2017.

These aren’t small sums considering members of the school committee are only paid $15,000/year.

In an interview on Thursday evening, Comparetto said, “In any grassroot campaign, delivering messages is expensive. We are putting our values into the campaign. We believe that paying our youth is important And we’ve hired a very capable campaign manager in Italo Fini who happened to graduate from high school this year. Without him, we wouldn’t have had the success we have had.”

The 19-year-old Fini was paid $8,000 by Comparetto’s campaign for consulting. According to Fini’s Facebook page, he is Comparetto’s campaign manager – earning more than half of what Comparetto would earn if elected in his first year as school committee member.

2017 Summary Campaign Finance Filings for Dante Comparetto

“I’m proud of the support we’ve received and our fundraising efforts, ” Comparetto said. “We’ve been aggressively fundraising since the beginning of the year. I’ve had fundraisers and have been calling for contributions. That’s how it’s done.”

Compared to the fundraising of the six incumbents, Comparetto’s fundraising receipts are substantially larger. The following are the receipt totals for Comparetto’s challengers:

To put it in perspective, for the past five years, O’Connell has had the same amount in his campaign finance account – $708.12.

Even further, Comparetto has raised nearly as much as Mayor Joseph M. Petty’s $49,000 in fundraising for his re-election campaign.  

“Honestly, I’m not running for the money. I’m running to create some change and do some good things in the school committee. I’ve identified a number of issues that need to be worked on. I’m not doing this for money,” Comparetto said.

Over the course of 2017, Comparetto spent nearly $20,000  on campaign advertising materials such as mailers, flyers and signs with Worcester-based company Campaigns That Win run by Don Shortman and Mark Carron.

In comparison, the incumbents spent a total of $5,639.20 on all of their advertising materials, according to the financial filings. O’Connell and Foley didn’t spend any money to advertise.

Further, in a recent submitted response to ThisWeekinWorcester answering the questions of why Worcester residents should vote for him, Comparetto stated that he is the owner of Pure Juz, which he describes as “a socially responsible juice bar.”

However, according to filings with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [SOC],  the business – which operates under Woo Juice, Inc. – is listed as dissolved on June 30, 2017 by court order or by the SOC. 

In response, Comparetto said that Pure Juz has a license to operate in the town of Shrewsbury with the Food Hub inside the Worcester County Food Bank and has not dissolved.

Comparetto also said that he is working on moving the business into a new dorm on campus at WPI in Worcester.

“We are doing really well with Pure Juz. We see those investments and our campaign contributions as important investments. We are investing, essentially, in our city’s future and our children’s future and I think it’s worth it,” Comparetto said.

The Worcester Municipal election is Tuesday, November 7. For more information on this year’s city council and school committee candidates, click here: ThisWeekinWorcester’s Municipal Election Candidate Profile Page.

About Nick D'Andrea and Patrick Sargent

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