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Donations reflect DFER execs' early support for Stringer 2013

People with an interest in the city’s school system are beginning to throw their support behind prospective candidates for the 2013 mayoral race, according to Friday’s campaign finance filings.

Campaign finance filings released on Friday showed that two top officials with Democrats for Education Reform, a major education lobbying group, donated exclusively to Scott Stringer, who defeated charter school operator Eva Moskowitz in the 2009 Manhattan Borough President primary with support from the city teachers union.

Joe Williams, executive director of DFER, gave a total of $1,500 to the Stringer campaign in two different donations. Elizabeth Ling, DFER’s New York State political director, gave $150, according to the filings. Stringer was the only candidate to whom Williams and Ling donated.

Ling, who serves on the board of one of Moskowitz’s Success Charter schools, said it was too early for DFER to endorse anyone just yet and that the group is “continuing to build relationships at all levels.”

Williams met with Stringer earlier this year as part of informal DFER meetings that are ongoing with prospective mayoral candidates.

Stringer’s education positions have largely focused on local community issues. Last year, he formed a task force to tackle overcrowding in Manhattan schools. More recently, he has blasted the Department of Education’s use of outside contracts and its policy for parent engagement.

Stringer also received donations from the teacher unions ($1,000) and David Umansky ($250), who runs Civic Builders, an organization that helps charter schools find space.

Another leading candidate for the nomination, still two years away, is City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who played a leading role in brokering a budget deal to avert teacher layoffs last month. Quinn, who led all candidates in fundraising with $4.6 million for this cycle, also received some donations from people in the education world.

Robert Hughes, the CEO of New Visions for Public Schools, which contracts with city schools, donated $500 to her this month. Duffy Palmer, a former state education official who now works for an international education company, donated $100.

Richard Burns, an executive at Manhattan Media, the company run by newly-announced candidate Tom Allon, donated $2000 to Stringer before Allon announced last week that he would run. In an email, Burns said he would now “be doing whatever I can to help [Allon] raise funds.”

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