Louis Tortora, a candidate running for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, withdrew himself from consideration on Saturday after the public discovered records of donations he made to President Donald Trump's campaign.
Tortora described himself as “a dad, former teacher, executive and volunteer” when announcing his campaign for office on Facebook. He also outlined his intentions to describe a plan that would improve student performance, close the achievement gap, recruit and retain the best teachers and maintain safe and healthy facilities.
Tortora hasn’t explicitly confirmed that the donations — which totaled $650 between 2016 and 2019 — were his, but the donations are attributed to the name Louis Tortora in the state of North Carolina in the Federal Election Commission database.
“Unfortunately, some in our district feel that donating to a political candidate that doesn’t align with their views is akin to a scandal, and the negative conversation surrounding this is distracting all of us from the kids I aim to serve,” Tortora wrote in a Facebook post.
He continued, saying he has no political affiliation with Trump, and he doesn't support his policies, his effect on public education or his treatment of people.
Tortora also responded to a comment that said that his withdrawal is a loss for the school system.
“I appreciate your voice in light of blind ignorance by people who have no idea of who I am, and how deeply committed I have been to education — nor do they have a clue of what I could have done for our town through partnerships regionally and nationally!” he wrote.
Andrew Davidson, another candidate running for the CHCCS Board of Education, commented by email about the withdrawal.
“I am the chair of the Special Needs Advisory Council. Given that Mr. Tortora referred to special needs students as ‘handicapped learners,' I think it is in the best interests of our students that he decided to drop out of the race,” Davidson said.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP said in an email it does not endorse candidates and has no party affiliation, but it is committed to the enactment of policies that promote the vision of the NAACP.
“We believe in the democratic process which thrives when the electorate is well informed and active in the process,” the statement said.
The NAACP also said Tortora is a “recent member” and donor to the association, but has not worked directly with it.
There are five remaining candidates for the four available seats on the board: incumbent Rani Dasi, Andrew Davidson, Jillian La Serna, Ashton Powell and Deon Temne.
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