With a new School Board preparing to take their seats at the helm of Seattle Public Schools at the end of this month, I'm ending my elections...

With a new School Board preparing to take their seats at the helm of Seattle Public Schools at the end of this month, I’m ending my elections notebook today to focus on covering their first steps as board members. Thanks for reading.

Butler-Wall speaks out — on another blog

POSTED 2:40 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7 — When I called School Board member Brita Butler-Wall Tuesday night as vote counts were coming in, she blamed the School Board turnover on a “witch hunt” conducted by The Seattle Times, along with big campaign contributions. Then she hung up abruptly.

On a local parents blog (http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/”>saveseattleschools.blogspot.com), she posted this apology today:

“Emily caught me off guard last night and I was flip and apologize. The election represented multiple views about what it means to be a school board member — what kind of balance of style and substance voters want to see. IMHO we need people with a vision for our system, with care for the underserved, and with skills to be productive and effective. Let’s hope all our new board members grow into this new position — I believe they will.”

Defeated candidates mum on Election Night

POSTED 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7 — None of the losing candidates would talk to me last night.

I called District 6 candidate Maria Ramirez around 8:15 p.m., just after early returns showed her trailing Steve Sundquist. She hadn’t seen the results, asked me not to tell her what they were, and abruptly said goodbye without commenting.

District 1 incumbent Sally Soriano answered my call and asked to have a few minutes to think about her response. Then she didn’t pick up her phone for the rest of the night.

District 2 incumbent Darlene Flynn didn’t return my calls, either, but I caught up with her this morning at a board committee meeting. She said she feels proud of the work she’s done and the position the district is in, but she’s worried about losing ground as a new — and very different — board takes its seats at the end of this month. (They’ll be sworn in at the Nov. 28 board meeting).

“I am very concerned about what this change on the board means for the direction we have set and for the work that we have done in bringing (Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson) here and hiring her,” she said. “I think that this slate is an extreme change in direction and I don’t know what that change means.”

So who’s ahead? Check seattletimes.com tonight

POSTED 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6 — It’s Election Day, and I’ll be working a late shift to report on the returns.Several of the candidates plan to be at the downtown Westin Hotel tonight, at the party planned for supporters of the simple-majority ballot measure, watching the results come in. Darlene Flynn hopes to party-hop. Maria Ramirez said no matter what, she’ll go to bed at 11 p.m. so that she can be up for work Wednesday morning.

You can keep track of the election returns at seattletimes.com, where we’ll be updating live.

Don’t know whom to vote for? Take our quiz!

POSTED 12:05 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5 — Seattle School Board members must win a citywide vote in Tuesday’s general election, so no matter where in the city you live, you must choose four out of eight names on your ballot. The campaigns often have veered into questions about style and fundraising, so I thought it might be helpful to return to the main issues.

Below is a list of questions to ask yourself, with multiple-choice answers based on candidates’ positions. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see with which candidates your views align.

To review, the candidates on your ballot are: Peter Maier vs. Sally Soriano in District 1; Sherry Carr vs. Darlene Flynn in District 2; Harium Martin-Morris vs. David Blomstrom in District 3; and Steve Sundquist vs. Maria Ramirez in District 6.

1. What should be a School Board member’s top priority?

A) Closing the academic achievement gap between whites and students of color.

B) Providing leadership and working as a governing body with the superintendent to draft policies that set the district in a focused direction.

C) Protecting schools from charter schools and other corporate interests.

D) Formulating policy and providing leadership to make the school system more equitable.

E) Raising student achievement.

2. How do you feel about school closures?

A) The district did the right thing by closing schools last year but should not close any more in the forseeable future.

B) The district did the right thing by closing schools and may need to consider closing more.

C) The district should not have closed schools, and shouldn’t close any more.

3. What’s your opinion of the current School Board?

A) The current board has accomplished a lot in a difficult political environment. Despite differences among board members, it managed to restore the district’s finances, close schools and hire a new superintendent.

B) The current board has often been ineffective. It needs an overhaul.

C) The current board is full of passionate and well-intentioned individuals, but they don’t appear to work well together.

D) It is corrupt.

4. The district has closed some schools and has a lot of empty buildings. What should the district do with that real estate?

A) Develop long-term leases that benefit the district financially, but avoid selling it because the property would be too hard to buy again.

B) The district should hold onto its real estate and only sell it as a last resort. If it does sell a building, it should make sure it sells it to someone who will keep it available for the public’s use.

5. What is your opinion of the WASL?

A) It’s a failed experiment and should not be used as a graduation requirement.

B) It’s not perfect, and the School Board should work to improve it and seek additional, alternative assessments. However, it is the best tool we have to judge student performance.

6. What do you think the board’s position should be on private money in schools?

A) The board should seek more money from the state Legislature and use private philanthropic funds primarily for after-school programs and other “extras.”

B) The district should be open to accepting private donations in public-private partnerships, but it should have a firm policy in place to ensure the district stays in control.

C) The district should not accept any private funds.

7. The candidates disagree on whether the district did a good job selecting projects for its $490 million capital bond last February. Which of these is closest to your opinion?

A) The district did the best it could. You can’t please everyone, and the projects on the list are good projects that needed to get done.

B) I have serious misgivings about the projects that made the list and the way they were chosen.

8. Whose opinion means the most to you?

A) Endorsements from local newspapers like the Times and P-I.

B) Endorsements from unions and labor groups.

C) Support from the business community.

D) Endorsement from the teachers union.

E) I’d prefer to vote for a candidate without mainstream endorsements.

9. What background is the most important to you in a board member?

A) PTSA leader.

B) Grassroots activism.

C) Business experience managing large staffs and budgets.

D) Experience working with underserved communities.

E) A college degree in business or economics.

Scoring:

This quiz isn’t scientific or comprehensive, and some issues may be more important to you than others. Candidates won’t necessarily appear in every answer, either because they didn’t have an opinion on an issue, or there position was unclear. But in general:

1. If you chose A, you agree with Maria Ramirez.

B: Peter Maier, Sherry Carr and Harium Martin-Morris.

C: Sally Soriano and David Blomstrom.

D: Darlene Flynn.

E: Steve Sundquist.

2. If you chose A, you agree with Martin-Morris and Ramirez.

B: Maier, Flynn, Carr and Sundquist.

C: Soriano and Blomstrom.

3. If you chose A, you agree with Flynn.

B: Sundquist, Maier, and Carr.

C: Martin-Morris and Ramirez.

D: Blomstrom.

4. If you chose A, you agree with Carr, Ramirez and Martin-Morris.

B: Maier, Flynn and Sundquist.

5. If you chose A, you agree with Martin-Morris, Ramirez, Blomstrom, Soriano and Flynn.

B: Carr, Maier and Sundquist.

6. If you chose A, you agree with Ramirez.

B: Sundquist, Maier, Carr, Flynn and Martin-Morris.

C: Blomstrom and Soriano.

7. If you chose A, you agree with Maier, Sundquist, Flynn and Carr.

B: Soriano and Ramirez.

8. Maier, Carr, Flynn, Martin-Morris, Sundquist and Ramirez were endorsed by at least one local paper.

Soriano, Flynn and Ramirez had most of the union and labor endorsements.

Maier, Carr, Sundquist and Martin-Morris have support from the business community.

Maier, Carr, Martin-Morris and Ramirez picked up the teachers union endorsement.

Blomstrom does not have any mainstream endorsements.

9. Carr, Maier, Ramirez and Martin-Morris have been PTSA leaders.

Soriano, Ramirez and Blomstrom have backgrounds in grassroots activism.

Carr and Sundquist have experience managing large staffs and budgets in their private-sector jobs. Flynn has a background in managing a large public-sector budget.

Flynn and Ramirez have a background working with diverse groups of people.

Maier, Carr, Ramirez, Sundquist and Martin-Morris have degrees in business or economics.

Soriano: donors trying to “buy” School Board

POSTED 9:50 a.m. Monday, Nov. 5 — Tomorrow is Election Day, and Sally Soriano’s campaign sent out a press release Sunday suggesting that wealthy businesspeople are trying to “buy the School Board.”

She’s raising concern about something I’ve written about a lot: the amount of money raised by Peter Maier, Harium Martin-Morris, Sherry Carr and Steve Sundquist. She calls the four candidates a “slate” and writes:

“{$326}even more concerning is the extreme concentration of influence represented in the contributions. Seven wealthy couples have collectively contributed $223,000 to the four slate candidates. This means that less than 1% of the total contributions account for more than 50% of the total money.”

Soriano ties the contributions to the centerpiece of her campaign — fighting charter schools.

“Indeed, the massive campaign contributions from special-interest groups and corporate backers pouring into a slate of Seattle School Board candidates this year reflects the nationwide trend in more covert attempts to privatize our schools,” the release says.

Is the school board dysfunctional?

POSTED 4:25 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2 — There’s a discussion on the Slog, the Stranger’s blog, about the District 2 candidates, Darlene Flynn and Sherry Carr. You can find it at www.slog.thestranger.com/2007/11/define_dysfunctional

Carr has argued throughout her campaign that the current School Board is dysfunctional because it micromanaged instead of acting as a governing body. Flynn has argued back that a dysfunctional board couldn’t have done all the things the current School Board has done, like close seven schools, balance the budget and hire a new superintendent.

The Stranger endorsed Flynn — but also tossed an expletive at her. You can read the endorsements here: www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=418929

Soriano answers questions on her Web page

POSTED 12:05 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2 — District 1 incumbent Sally Soriano is answering questions on her Web page. Go to www.sallysoriano.org and click on “Ask Sally.” You can also read answers to questions others have asked, and she takes on some of the biggest issues in her campaign, including why she voted against putting the district’s bond measure on the ballot last year and how the district should balance increasing consistency between schools without making them all the same.

She also takes up “leadership” — which is something her opponent, Peter Maier, has made a big deal about in his campaign. He says Soriano did not provide good leadership in her first term. She was a naysayer, he said, and micromanaged district staff and the superintendent.

In her defense, Soriano points to some of the same issues Maier does. She says it was leadership when she focused from the beginning of her term on finding a new superintendent, which the board eventually did after former Superintendent Raj Manhas resigned. She said it was leadership when she worked on water quality issues and pushed for a different math curriculum. Maier has said both of those were micromanaging.

Candidate themes, personalities evident in slogans

POSTED 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2 — With all the acronyms and edu-speak at the Seattle school district, it’s nice that, during a campaign, candidates are forced to boil it all down into a few words.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to navigate candidates’ views on “weighted staffing standards” or parse their positions on BEX III, check out these little ditties:

Steve Sundquist (District 6) is using as his slogan “effective new leadership.”

Leadership is a common promise, as Peter Maier (District 1), has these words dancing across his campaign signs: “the leadership we need.”

His opponent, Sally Soriano, is campaigning on a promise to reject charter schools: “Keeping public schools public.” (Since 1996, statewide ballot measures to allow them have failed three times.)

Change is another popular concept. Maria Ramirez (District 6) made it an afterthought on her fliers: “Experience. Passion. Leadership. For a change.”

She squeezed “leadership” in there, too.

Along the same lines, Harium Martin-Morris (District 3), touts: “Experience in education for our school board.” He’s a former teacher and educational consultant.

His opponent, David Blomstrom, is the only other candidate with K-12 teaching experience on his résumé, but his campaign theme is tougher to discern. It may be “Seattle’s LAST School Board election,” a reference to the idea, backed by the mayor, that Seattle should switch to an appointed School Board.

In District 2, Sherry Carr offers the sunny phrase: “It’s time for a positive change.” Her opponent, incumbent Darlene Flynn, is more stern: “No exceptions, no excuses.”

A few donors make a big difference

POSTED 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1 — There has been some discussion in my e-mail inbox and on local education blogs and neighborhood online discussion groups about whether candidates are getting too much money from a single type of supporter. I’ve posted here about the huge business-community donations to some of the campaign coffers, and the smaller — but still significant — donations from labor groups to other candidates.

It turns out that a small number of donors make a difference in the campaigns of several candidates.

I took a look at the two incumbents’ campaign contributions, and here’s what I found:

In District 1 to date, incumbent Sally Soriano got 36 percent of her $13,000 in donations from the top 10 percent of her contributors. Those were almost solely unions and labor groups.

Her challenger, Peter Maier, has collected about 66 percent of his contributions from the top 10 percent of his contributors. And Maier has raised a lot: $152,733, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. His biggest donors are businesspeople, including venture capitalists and Eastside technology magnates.

In District 2, incumbent Darlene Flynn has raised about $13,000. Of that, about 51 percent came from her top 10 percent of contributors. Many are labor groups, but she also got large contributions from attorneys, local businesspeople, and her former boss, Jim Street, who now heads the Puget Sound Educational Service District.

Her challenger, Sherry Carr, has collected nearly 75 percent of her campaign contributions from her top 10 percent of contributors. She’s raised about $127,000 so far. Her biggest donors are most of the same people who made large contributions to Maier’s campaign: members of the business community, several of whom list addresses on the Eastside.

Unions support Soriano, Ramirez, Flynn

POSTED 2:40 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30 — We’ve made much of all the big business contributions to the School Board races this year, so I wanted to look at a more traditional source of School Board campaign donations: labor.

I’ve reported before that the business community seems to like four candidates. Seattle’s labor unions are clearly supporting the other three — incumbents Sally Soriano and Darlene Flynn in districts 1 and 2 and Maria Ramirez in District 6. They haven’t taken a position for or against Harium Martin-Morris in District 3. His opponent, David Blomstrom, hasn’t raised any money.

About 40 percent of Soriano’s campaign funds came from labor groups, including the Washington State Teamsters Legislative League ($2,250), the national Amalgamated Transit Union ($250) and the International Union Operating Engineers Local 609 ($800), which represents custodians and security staff. Soriano was the School Board’s most outspoken supporter of the district’s pressuring its transportation contractors to force them to use better labor practices. Her opponent, Peter Maier, got $450 from the Washington Education Association, teachers union. Same with Sherry Carr, a candidate in District 2. Her opponent, Darlene Flynn, accepted about $3,350 from labor groups. In fact, unions were the only organized groups who gave to Flynn. Most of her $13,000 in donations came from individuals.

In District 6, Steve Sundquist didn’t receive any money from labor groups. His opponent, Maria Ramirez, got $450 from the teachers union, plus support from the Service Employees Local 6, Seattle Building and Construction Trades and Operating Engineers Local 609.

Campaign photos: Who are these kids, anyway?

POSTED 9:37 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30 — The front of District 1 School Board candidate Peter Maier’s latest campaign mailer features two kids: a boy with sunglasses hooked on his shirt, holding a maroon “Peter Maier for Seattle School Board” sign, and a girl writing on a chalkboard.

Who are they? Don’t ask Maier. They’re “stock photos” of kids he doesn’t know. They might not even live in Seattle. He said he isn’t sure how it works, but he guesses his campaign consultants just photo-shopped his name onto the sign the boy’s holding.

He posed with neighborhood kids at a local school for a strip of photos across the back of the flier.

A mailer sent out by Steve Sundquist, who is running in District 6, also features a stock photo — of five kids holding hands and leaping into the air. Sundquist said he doesn’t know who they are but thinks his campaign consultants might have gotten it off the Internet.

He also has a photo on the back of himself with a group of people — including kids — who marched with him in a West Seattle parade.

Sundquist’s opponent, Maria Ramirez, has a photo on her flier of herself talking to two kids against a sunny background. The kids are the son and daughter of friends of hers, she said. One goes to Sanislo Elementary in Seattle, the other in Wenatchee. It’s a real snapshot taken during a parade for Mexican Independence Day in South Park.

District 2 candidate Sherry Carr has kids in her latest mailer, too. Her daughter, Taylor, 12, is identified on the back.

Soriano borrows more than she’s raised

POSTED 5:25 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29 — District 1 incumbent Sally Soriano borrowed $13,500 last week — more than she has raised for the entire campaign at this point — for a mailing.

Soriano took out three $4,500 loans from Mildred Soriano, Donald Soriano, and Marilyn Harris. Harris contributed $500 to her re-election campaign this year and all three were contributors of $650 each in 2003.

Soriano’s challenger, attorney Peter Maier, has the support of a large portion of Seattle’s business community and has stockpiled $130,000, which he is now using to run newspaper ads and send mailings. Soriano’s supporters include many labor groups and individuals whose contributions to her campaign are much smaller. She has raised about $11,000 so far and has spent most of it.

Soriano still owes more than $10,000 to herself and two other people — David Soriano and Steven Soriano — who loaned her money for her successful 2003 campaign, according to state campaign-disclosure records.

In all, she borrowed $21,000 to help fund her campaign in 2003. Most of that — $14,000 — was her own money.

Mayor missing in School Board campaigns

POSTED 10:25 a.m. Monday, Oct. 29 — After promising in a December interview a “vigorous debate” over the leadership of Seattle Public Schools, Mayor Greg Nickels’ office has been mostly silent in this year’s campaigns.

Nickels tried to influence the district’s leadership last fall after an attempt at a second round of school closures failed and Superintendent Raj Manhas resigned. He encouraged the School Board to appoint former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice as interim superintendent. The board rebuffed his suggestion and went forward with a formal, nationwide search, eventually hiring Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson.

The mayor also spoke in favor of an appointed School Board instead of an elected one. He said current board members were “well-meaning and smart” but didn’t possess “the particular talents you need.” He said he didn’t plan to back a slate of challengers.

Now, two candidates say they’ve been endorsed by Nickels: Peter Maier — who is challenging incumbent Sally Soriano — and Sherry Carr — who is running against incumbent Darlene Flynn. Beyond that, his input has been absent from the campaign; he hasn’t even endorsed in District 6, which covers his own neighborhood of West Seattle.

I called Nickels’ spokesman, Marty McOmber, to see why the mayor hasn’t been involved, and he declined to comment, saying that ethics rules prohibited him from discussing the mayor’s political activities.

Could McOmber at least confirm for me that the mayor has endorsed Maier and Carr? He said he could, but I’m still waiting to hear from him.

Big-box founder gives big bucks to campaigns

POSTED 2: 20 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26 — Add Costco co-founder James Sinegal to the list of major business leaders who have contributed to the campaigns of four School Board candidates: Peter Maier in District 1, Sherry Carr in District 2, Harium Martin-Morris is District 3 and Steve Sundquist in District 6.

Sinegal and his wife, Janet, gave $10,000 each to Maier and Carr, who are taking on School Board incumbents. The couple gave $5,000 each to Martin-Morris and Sundquist.

In an interview this week, Bob Watt, Boeing’s vice president for government and community relations, said the business community has long cared about the schools, funding levy campaigns and giving money to education causes.

One impetus for donations, Watt said, may be Nick Hanauer — a major contributor to many local school-related campaigns and co-founder of the League of Education Voters — is a venture capitalist and Alliance for Education board member.

I’ll have a story out in the next few days about the role of the business community in this year’s School Board campaigns. Look for it at www.seattletimes.com.

Seattle Medium endorses in only two races

POSTED 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 — The Seattle Medium community newspaper made it clear this week how District 2 incumbent Darlene Flynn lost its support.

The newspaper didn’t endorse either candidate in districts 2 and 3, and in District 2 it wrote: “The Incumbent, Darlene Flynn, voted to close MLK Elementary School and has done very little to earn the support of our community, or advance the cause of Black children.”

Flynn was part of the board majority that voted last summer to close seven school buildings, including Martin Luther King Elementary in the Central Area. Many members of the African-American community — including the publishers of the Medium — felt that the district set up MLK for closure by shrinking its reference area and withholding attractive programs from the school.

The newspaper’s comment is one of the few times school closures have become an issue in this year’s campaigns. Since almost all of the candidates for election support the closures and even say they would support more, most debates haven’t focused on school closures.

Hordes of angry parents flooded community meetings before last year’s vote, threatening not to re-elect School Board members who supported school closures.

The paper also declined to endorse the only other black candidate running, Harium Martin-Morris in District 3. Martin-Morris told me in an interview in September that he wasn’t seeking support from traditional African-American community groups because he wanted to support all communities.

The Medium endorsed incumbent Sally Soriano in District 1 and Maria Ramirez in District 6. The endorsements can be found here: seattlemedium.com/news/Article/Article.asp?NewsID=83279&sID=4&ItemSource=L

Forum shows candidates’ opinions of the arts

POSTED 11:35 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 — Last week’s forum about arts education is online at the Seattle Channel’s Web site. I didn’t attend but watched the recording.

At the beginning, the candidates discussed their own experiences in arts education. Harium Martin-Morris talked about his history as a competitive ballroom dancer, Darlene Flynn said she sings and plays folk music on the guitar and relayed a funny story about losing her clarinet on purpose so she could play the saxophone. Maria Ramirez said she was forced to play the accordion in the fourth grade, and Peter Maier said he quit the baritone horn after his band teacher told him he sounded “worse than a sick duck.”

About 51 minutes in, incumbent Darlene Flynn corrected the moderator’s characterization of her campaign literature, which refers to education for “all students.” She argued that she was including arts education in that phrase.

Her tone was one she often uses when she disagrees with someone, or when she’s trying to make a point — and it’s become an issue in her re-election campaign. Her supporters say she is clear and passionate; critics say she is too harsh.

Here’s a link to the forum online: www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=5550714

The forum was at the Seattle Children’s Theatre and was put on by the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and the Seattle Arts Commission.

Ramirez sets record straight on February votes

POSTED 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 — We’re running a correction in tomorrow’s paper about a mistake I made in my Oct. 11 story about the District 6 candidates.

In the story, I wrote that Maria Ramirez filled in the “no” bubbles on her February ballot — intending to vote against the school district’s two funding measures. Actually, Ramirez supported the operating levy, which makes up about 25 percent of the district’s budget. She opposed the bond because of concerns about which projects made the list.

Her votes did not count because she didn’t mail her ballot.

The mistake stems from a misunderstanding in my interview of Ramirez. I noticed in King County records that she didn’t vote in the February election. When I asked her what she marked on her ballot before deciding not to mail it, she told me she voted “no.” I thought she meant on both issues. She was only talking about the bond.

Since I reported that Ramirez didn’t vote in the election, it’s become a significant issue in the District 6 race. The Seattle Times editorial board wrote that it even played into their decision to endorse Ramirez’ opponent, Steve Sundquist. Sundquist brought it up at a televised candidate forum Oct. 11.

“That’s 25 percent of our district’s budget, and we clearly disagree about that,” he said.

Ramirez said she regrets not mailing her ballot. The fact that her opponent has made such an issue of it strikes her as “desperate,” she said.

“I feel like it’s not a productive use of our time,” she said. “I think we need to focus on the next bond.”

Blomstrom talks of “corrupt” system

POSTED 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 — Candidate David Blomstrom answered questions along with his opponent in District 3, Harium Martin-Morris, on KUOW today. Since we’ve so seldom heard from Blomstrom during this campaign, I want to summarize what he said on the program.

His appearance on the program — by phone — was absent any of the name-calling and ranting that characterize his Web site (he refers to his opponent as “Whorium”) and he gave thoughtful answers to questions from the host and callers.

Blomstrom’s stated reason for running for School Board is to bring attention to what he calls the “Seattle Mafia” — sinister corporations and community leaders he believes have corrupted the school system. That’s most of what he addressed during the show, saying closing schools was “a sham” and that corporations have virtually privatized public schools. He opposes the Washington Assessment of Student Learning and said it isn’t fair that public-school students have to take it while private-school students don’t. And he said corruption taints school levies because school officials “play so many games” about what happens to the money.

“Giving money to the school district is one thing,” he said, “but I want to make sure that money is not lost or embezzled.”

Absent from the trail, candidate turns to airwaves

POSTED 9:55 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 — District 3 candidate David Blomstrom has indicated he plans to be on KUOW’s afternoon show, The Conversation, today.

Blomstrom has rarely shown up for candidate forums and doesn’t do interviews with most media (including The Seattle Times), so this is a rare chance to hear what he has to say. His opponent, Harium Martin-Morris, is also scheduled to be on the show along with District 2 incumbent Darlene Flynn and challenger Sherry Carr.

The conversation is from 1-3 p.m. on 94.9 FM. You can also listen to the program online while it’s on the air or later on the station’s Web site, www.kuow.org/programs/theconversation.asp.

Blog: Middle class missing from campaigns

POSTED 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23 — An anonymous writer put something on the table on a Seattle Public Schools parent blog this morning that I think is a common issue. In a comment on saveseattleschools.blogspot.com, this person responded to School Board candidates’ touting their experience with low-income, underserved and underperforming students:

“My issue is that my children, like many others in this district, are not low income or under served … I want someone on the board who will look at all students, and try to find out how to better serve every student in this district.”

Media coverage and forum questions in this election season have focused in large part on how candidates will raise achievement of underserved students. In an age of standardized tests and impending state graduation requirements, it’s obviously one of the biggest issues candidates will face on the board.

But I wonder whether this parent is getting at something a lot of middle-class parents are feeling: that the School Board candidates aren’t speaking to the issues they are facing.

Here’s a link to the blog. The comment I’m referring to is the ninth in the list: www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=28765366&postID=4865918087784472802

Fundraising gap widens among candidates

POSTED 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23 — Big contributions from Microsoft executives and two venture capitalists pushed District 2 candidate Sherry Carr’s fundraising over the $100,000 mark this week. She has raised $115,000. Many of the same people also donated to District 6 candidate Steve Sundquist, who was close behind with about $85,000.

District 1 candidate Peter Maier still has raised the most: more than $130,000 as of Monday’s filing.

Carr’s opponent, incumbent Darlene Flynn, reported about $12,500. Sundquist’s opponent, Maria Ramirez, has just over $14,000. Maier’s opponent, incumbent Sally Soriano, has $11,036.

Soriano said the fundraising difference doesn’t worry her and shows that her campaign is more “grassroots.”

“I have a track record of being on the side of democracy,” she said.

Until now, the fundraising has been little more than symbolic of candidates’ support. But with two weeks to go until the election, it should become obvious who has more cash as candidates start spending on mailings, phone calls and other last-minute campaigning.

Soriano said that postage alone costs about $12,000 for a citywide mailing. She can only afford one, so she’s relying on volunteer-heavy efforts like yard signs and waving signs at busy intersections, she said.

Very good? Do you mean very, very, very good?

POSTED 4:50 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22 — The Municipal League of King County rates local candidates’ “potential to be effective in office and ability to serve the community.” They rank them from “not qualified” to “outstanding” based on effectiveness, involvement, knowledge and character.

In District 6, Maria Ramirez has faced some criticism for printing on fliers that she is “highest rated” by the league. She’s rated “very good” — the second-highest rating the league offers. Her opponent, Steve Sundquist, is also rated “very good.” Her campaign’s position is that she’s highest rated in her race, because Sundquist wasn’t rated higher than she.

The only candidates for School Board who received the highest possible rating, “outstanding,” are Peter Maier (District 1) and Sherry Carr (District 2).

“She’s not running against Peter Maier or Sherry Carr, she’s running against Steve Sundquist,” said Cindi Laws, a consultant working for Ramirez. “That’s a term that all campaigns use with this kind of a thing.”

Sundquist didn’t. His literature and Web site just say that he was rated “very good.”

Laws said Seattle City Council candidates Bruce Harrell and Venus Velázquez are using “top-rated” to describe their ratings — both were rated “very good” by the Municipal League. I couldn’t find that language on either candidate’s Web site, though.

The league rated Darlene Flynn (District 1) and Harium Martin-Morris (District 3) “very good,” Sally Soriano (District 1) “good,” and David Blomstrom (District 3) “not qualified.”

You can read the candidates’ questionaires, which were used to determine the ratings, at the Municipal League’s Web site, here: www.munileague.org/cec/2007/report/SeattleSD1.htm.

School Board slate? Not this year

POSTED 9:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22 — Local education leaders who organized a last-minute political action committee to support three School Board candidates in 2005 now say that strategy was a mistake, and they won’t do it again.

Former School Board member Barbara Schaad-Lamphere and former education-committee Chairman John Warner both said the PAC, in hindsight, was a bad idea. They started too late, had too little money to make a real impact and the candidates didn’t really even want to be part of a slate, they said.

The group spent about $10,000 in the last few weeks of the 2005 campaign to support Michael DeBell, Jane Fellner and Linda Thompson-Black. DeBell was the only one of the three who won.

This year, there is no PAC and no formal slate, but some people refer to a de facto slate of newcomers: Peter Maier in District 1, Sherry Carr in District 2, Harium Martin-Morris in District 3, and Steve Sundquist in District 6.

The four share many — but not all — of the same supporters and endorsements.

Watch the candidates at seattletimes.com

UPDATED 11:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22 — We asked high-school students what they wanted to know from the School Board candidates, and they had plenty to say: What are the candidates bringing to the table? What will each do to ensure no child is left behind? How can the district recruit more minority teachers?

We videotaped the students asking their questions, selected the five best, and played them for the School Board candidates. They answered on camera. You can watch it all online at seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2003951955_schoolboardq0322.html

It’s a perfect chance to see the candidates in action, answering questions from some of the people with the most at stake in November’s election.

A voter’s guide for 20- and 30-somethings

POSTED 9:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 19 — Seattle Works has released a general election guide for generations X and Y, and all but a few School Board candidates answered their extensive list of questions.

I’ve already written about the candidates’ favorite bands. In the new edition, District 6 candidate Steve Sundquist reveals that he listens to “smooth jazz” and District 1 candidate Peter Maier reveals familiarity with a local rapper (Grynch).

But the candidates also answered more substantive questions at length. Among the most interesting were their answers to a question about improving the board’s effectiveness amid “often challenging dynamics.”

While the other candidates say, in so many words, that the board needs to learn to work together better, District 2 incumbent Darlene Flynn writes: “Given the challenging dynamics of the Seattle School District and relentless micro-examination by the press, this Board could teach a seminar on effectiveness in challenging situations (really).”

Read the whole voters guide at www.seattleworks.orgunder “influence.”

“Kooky hippie,” “jerk,” “smarty pants” and more: All in a day’s endorsements at The Stranger

POSTED 3:05 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 — Don’t miss The Stranger’s candidate endorsements here: www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=418929

Like the P-I, The Stranger passed over District 2 challenger and PTSA leader Sherry Carr to endorse incumbent Darlene Flynn. You can read their reasoning for yourself; I can’t get some of The Stranger’s language past my editors.

But like the P-I, they didn’t endorse the other incumbent, Sally Soriano, in District 1. The Stranger called her a “kooky hippie,” which is nicer than the word they used to describe Flynn.

And they endorsed Steve Sundquist in District 6. In their primary endorsement, they said he “looked like a jerk,” but this time they said the board needed a straitlaced, business type like him. Their opinion of his opponent, Maria Ramirez, has apparently also improved since the primary. They wrote in August that she “seemed like she’d been over served.” This time they called her “savvy and organized,” though not as good a candidate as Sundquist.

Are candidates saving for a big splash?

POSTED 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 — Reports filed this week show that several candidates have saved much of their money to spend during the last few weeks of the campaign. The filings show each candidate’s bottom line as of Oct. 8.

In District 1, incumbent Sally Soriano had saved 85 percent of the money she’s raised, leaving her with almost $10,000 to spend before Election Day. Her opponent, Peter Maier, is the biggest fundraiser in any of the School Board races, with enthusiastic backing from the business community. He reported he still had about 75 percent of the $92,237 he had raised by Oct. 8. Since then, he’s reported additional donations. In District 2, incumbent Darlene Flynn had $6,235. That’s a little more than half of the total amount she had raised. Her opponent, Sherry Carr, is one of the only candidates who reported spending more than half of the total she’d fundraised. Carr reported she had $41,218 left of the $83,710 she had raised.

(The other candidate to spend most of his money is Harium Martin Morris, the District 3 candidate whose opponent, David Blomstrom, hasn’t raised any money. Martin-Morris has about $11,507 in the bank — a third of his total).

In District 6, both candidates have reserved about 70 percent of their funds. Steve Sundquist had about $50,000 left; Maria Ramirez about $10,000.

With many of the forums and endorsements wrapping up this week and absentee ballots in the mail, candidates often turn to literature, direct mail and other kinds of advertisements to sway voters in a campaign’s final weeks.

Sundquist to donors: Your money’s no good here

POSTED 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 — Steve Sundquist refunded two campaign contributors in August.

A Sundquist spokesman said the candidate returned the donations — both from familiar names — because it was so clear that his views conflicted with theirs.

Sundquist gave $10 back to Chris Jackins, a school-closure opponent who makes it to nearly every School Board meeting and public hearing. Jackins gave a small amount of money to each of the School Board challengers before the primary election, but not the incumbents. He’s given $40 to Sundquist’s opponent in District 6, Maria Ramirez.

Sundquist has said he supports school closures, though he said the district should give its new superintendent at least a year to settle in.

Sundquist also returned $50 to Kathleen Brose, a parent named in the group that sued the district over its use of race in student assignment. Sundquist has been upfront about his disappointment in the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the district’s racial tiebreaker is unconstitutional.

Brose also gave $50 to newcomer candidates Sherry Carr, Harium Martin-Morris and Peter Maier. She didn’t contribute to Maria Ramirez’ campaign. Ramirez is the only candidate I’ve heard speak in favor of Brose’s position. She doesn’t believe the racial tiebreaker is the best tool to achieve diversity in schools.

Populist candidates no more?

POSTED 4:35 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17 — Parent activist Melissa Westbrook offered a fundraising analysis today on the blog she contributes to, http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com. She wondered if the formerly “populist” nature of School Board campaigns is being lost as candidates raise more money.

Most popular campaign expense? Consultants

POSTED 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17 — With the exception of the two incumbents, most of the candidates are spending some serious money on consulting services.

District 6 candidate Steve Sundquist has spent the most — $5,000 a month for the past five months, not counting literature design and mailing costs.

This morning, Sundquist’s PR consultant sent out a press release, then called me to make sure I got it. Most of the candidates just call me directly.

His opponent, Maria Ramirez, has spent about $600 a month on consulting services.

Sherry Carr, a candidate in District 2, has paid about $1,500 a month to a consultant. Peter Maier, the challenger in District 1, didn’t report any recent consulting expenditures but spend a couple thousand dollars over the summer.

The two incumbents, Sally Soriano in District 1 and Darlene Flynn in District 2, haven’t spent money on consulting. In fact, neither reported any major expenditures since the summer primary. Each has a little money in the bank, so they may be saving it for a big general election mailing or something.

Maier’s war chest now in the six figures

POSTED 10:52 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16 — Huge contributions continue to pour into Peter Maier’s School Board campaign for Sally Soriano’s North Seattle seat. Monday, he posted a $10,000 contribution from venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, a partner in Second Avenue Partners, which according to its Web site invests in promising startups.

Hanauer has a history of interest in local schools. A Seattle native and University of Washington graduate, he co-founded the League of Education Voters in 2000. He sits on the boards of the University of Washington Foundation and the Alliance for Education.

Maier also reported $10,000 in contributions from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie. I’ve posted in this space before about the $12,000 cellular magnate John Stanton and his wife Theresa Gillespie donated to Maier’s campaign.

With Hanauer’s contribution, Maier has easily topped $100,000 in donations, the most of any Seattle School Board candidate this fall. Soriano has raised far less money — about $8,000.

The candidates must post their latest contributions and expenditures reports by midnight. That will give a better picture of how much cash each candidate has left to spend with less than a month to go before Election Day.

Ramirez snags P-I support

POSTED 5:35 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15 — Maria Ramirez picked up another high-profile endorsement over the weekend when The Seattle Post-Intelligencer said her understanding of students’ “real-life issues” make her the best choice for director in District 6.

Her opponent, Steve Sundquist, has raised more money than she has and got more than twice as many votes as she did in the primary. But then Ramirez got the Seattle Education Association’s endorsement last month. The P-I’s endorsement could be another sign that Ramirez is gaining on him.

The P-I’s endorsement came out Sunday, but as of this evening, Sundquist’s Web site still lists that he’s endorsed by the P-I. (He and Ramirez were both recommended in the primary.)

Neighborhood candidate forums this week

UPDATED 12:10 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15 — There are still plenty of opportunities to see the School Board candidates at forums around Seattle. If you know of others, send me an e-mail with the information and I will post it.

• 6:30-8 tonight, Seattle Children’s Theatre, 201 Thomas St. (at Seattle Center)

Sponsored by the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and Seattle Arts Commission’s education committee. All the candidates have confirmed they’ll be there, according to organizers.

The theme will be arts education.

At a pre-reception starting at 5:30 p.m., people will have the chance to meet Carri Campbell, the district’s new manager of visual and performing arts.

• 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nathan Hale High School Performing Arts Center (10750 30th Ave. N.E.)

Hosted by students of Nathan Hale High School’s American Government classes and Nathan Hale PTSA. Come at 6:30 p.m. for “Community and Connections,” followed by moderated candidate session at 7 p.m.

• 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 23, Bryant Elementary School (3311 N.E. 60th St.)

Blomstrom surfaces to allege “blatant lie”

POSTED 9:50 a.m. Friday, Oct. 12 — David Blomstrom and I don’t talk much.

The candidate for District 3 doesn’t like to talk to the corporate media, so he refused an interview with me and referred me to his Web sites, which detail his theory that Seattle is run by a corrupt and powerful mafia.

On his campaign site, he’s nicknamed his opponent, Harium Martin-Morris, “Whorium.” From a link on his home page, it’s easy to find one of his central criticisms of his opponent: that Martin-Morris’ campaign focuses almost solely on school-related issues.

That’s what I wrote in my story, published Thursday in The Seattle Times.

Blomstrom sent me an e-mail asking for a retraction: “I didn’t accuse him of focusing on school-related issues; I very clearly accused him of having NO ISSUES.”

“Your statement,” his e-mail to me continued, “is an obviously blatant LIE. Please let me know when The Seattle Times prints a retraction.”

He’s right that his campaign home page (http://2007.seattle-mafia.org/) calls his opponent Harium “No Issues” Martin-Morris.

But he also writes: “Like most candidates, Whorium has no website, aside from his campaign website at www.harium2007.com. Apparently, he’s only interested in school issues during election campaigns.”

Blomstrom, on the other hand, is using his campaign to tackle issues that are important to him, including, according to his Web site, George W. Bush, the war in Iraq, Bill Gates, the economy, government spying and the U.S. Postal Service.

I think I’ll stand by my original statement.

Closing time

POSTED 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — The forum is winding down and candidates are giving their closing statements.

Steve Sundquist says his focus is on raising standards and ensuring all schools are effective.

Maria Ramirez says her endorsements reflect the faith people have in her skills. She promises diversity of thought and collaboration on the board.

Harium Martin-Morris asked people to remember that he is a product of public education and that he believes in it.

Darlene Flynn said people should go to her Web site to see “the real story” about the performance of the current board. She said the system will be judged by its service to all students.

Sherry Carr said she believes the board can do better. She called this “a watershed moment” and a chance to win back the faith of the community. Her skills will help do that, she said.

Sally Soriano reminisced about campaigning with levies with her mother as a child. She said her record is of being democratic and collaborative, pushing for parents’ issues.

Peter Maier said the election is about “leadership and change.” He said the new superintendent needs a strong, steady and focused board.

Martin-Morris puts himself out there

POSTED 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — Since District 3 candidate Harium Martin-Morris’ opponent is not present and doesn’t have an active, traditional campaign, he’s taking some bold stances tonight.

Already, he said the achievement gap between whites and other races “will close” if more adults get involved in classes, and that the achievement gap doesn’t have anything to do with race, anyway: It’s about income.

He also took a stand against one of the superintendent’s favorite causes — a uniform curriculum — and declared the WASL a failed plan that shouldn’t be a graduation requirement.

During the “lightning round,” when candidates held up “yes” or “no” cards to answer a sequence of questions, Martin-Morris held up a “no” card when asked whether all students should take a college-preparatory curriculum.

Looking for controversy in all the wrong places

POSTED 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — The moderator, C.R. Douglas, has been working hard to pit the candidates against each other. It’s not always easy, because on many of the major topics in the campaigns, the two candidates agree.

For example, Sherry Carr and Darlene Flynn agreed that a more uniform curriculum across the district is a good idea. Sally Soriano and Peter Maier both support keeping school choice but improving schools across the district.

But Douglas has lobbed a few zingers of his own. Noting Soriano’s participation last year in a lawsuit against the board over school closures, he asked, “Is that any way to behave as a board member?”

Sundquist chides Ramirez for not voting

POSTED 7:10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — District 6 candidate Steve Sundquist was the first one to take a stab at his opponent.

In his opening statement, he pointed out that Maria Ramirez didn’t vote in the February levy and bond election. That’s something I wrote about in a story this week, after noticing that the King County elections division didn’t have a record of her vote.

She told me she struggled with the content of the district’s project list in its capital bond, so she marked “no” on her ballot. But she couldn’t stand to vote against schools, so instead she didn’t mail the ballot, thus not voting at all.

Hey, buddy, can you spare a mike?

POSTED 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — The forum has only two working microphones right now, and they’re passing one around among candidates. It’s not the first time the district’s microphones have failed. They’re often a problem during board meetings and workshops, prompting the board’s president, Cheryl Chow, recently to quip that the district saves the quality equipment for the classroom.

Candidate forum off to slow start

POSTED 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — The forum was held up because there aren’t enough microphones that work. A district employee ran across the street for more batteries.

Attendance at the forum was sparse earlier, anyway (one PTSA representative suggested the audience scoot in to make the auditorium “look more full”).

It’s starting to fill in now. Several current board members and district staff are in attendance, including board members Brita Butler-Wall and Michael DeBell and board President Cheryl Chow. Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno is here.

Tonight’s candidate forum: Read about it here

POSTED 10:45 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — I’m planning to cover tonight’s all-city School Board candidate forum from 6:30 to 8:30 at the John Stanford Center, 2445 Third Ave. S.

Organizers say seven of the eight candidates vying for board positions this fall have indicated they plan to be there. David Blomstrom, who is running against Harium Martin-Morris for the District 3 seat, will not attend.

I’ll post updates here, in my election notebook, during the event. It will also be broadcast on The Seattle Channel (Channel 21) and on SPS-TV (Channel 26).

C.R. Douglas of The Seattle Channel will moderate. Forum questions will include a lightning round, questions prepared by the community groups sponsoring the event, and questions solicited in writing from the audience.

It’s not too late to RSVP for child-care by e-mailing Kerry Cooley-Stroum at kerry@cppsofseattle.org.

Punctuality wins points with SEA

POSTED 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 — Seattle Education Association President Wendy Kimball called me back to fill in the backstory behind the union’s endorsements.

Kimball told me the SEA’s endorsement of a whole new board majority doesn’t reflect a bad relationship with the current board.

“The SEA leadership has an obligation to have good relationships with all of the people who supervise or run the school district,” she said. “These are the people that we need to go to and make requests from, and so we need to be in an ongoing and collegial environment. It’s not the leadership of the SEA who are making these (endorsement) decisions. It is the membership of SEA who are making these decisions.”

The SEA endorsed early this year because of the August primary. In the District 2 race, Darlene Flynn hadn’t yet decided she would run for re-election at the time the union made endorsements. So she was never interviewed by the union’s “political action team,” which makes recommendations to the executive committee for political endorsements. The SEA interviewed only Lisa Stuebing and Sherry Carr. Based on that, they endorsed Carr.

“Darlene Flynn did not get her paperwork in before the cutoff time,” she said. “We had informed her what the cutoff time was going to be, and it didn’t happen, and we moved forward.”

Maria Ramirez didn’t get her paperwork in time for the SEA endorsement, either, but a union member made a motion to hold off endorsing in District 6 until after they had a chance to talk with her. The union did — last month — and endorsed Ramirez over her opponent, Steve Sundquist.

In the District 1 race, the political action team asked for the general membership’s help in choosing a candidate. The members chose Maier.

Teachers union backs newbies for School Board

POSTED 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 — The Seattle School Board is guaranteed at least two brand-new members at the end of this year, since incumbents Brita Butler-Wall and Irene Stewart opted not to run. But the Seattle teachers union is rooting for complete turnover of the seven-member School Board’s majority — again.

In 2003, the Seattle Education Association endorsed three new board members: Darlene Flynn in District 2, Brita Butler-Wall in District 3, and two newcomers (a co-endorsement), Irene Stewart and Betty Hoagland, in District 6.

They stayed out of the race between Sally Soriano and incumbent Barbara Schlag Peterson in District 1.

This year, the SEA endorsed Peter Maier, Sherry Carr, Harium Martin-Morris and Maria Ramirez — all running for their first public office. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is rooting for a new majority, too. He endorsed Maier, Carr and Martin-Morris, but appears not to have endorsed in District 6, where both candidates are new.

Social networking? Not so much, says Flynn

POSTED 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9 — All the candidates have Web sites, but Darlene Flynn is the only School Board candidate to have made a short-lived expedition into the social networking world. During the primary campaign, she set up a MySpace page. (myspace.com/darleneflynn).

“I thought it would be sort of fun,” she said.

Instead, it was sort of lonely. No other candidate set up a site, and to this day, she has 1 pic, 0 friends and 0 messages. She hasn’t signed in since July.

“I thought that it would be the wave of the campaign,” said Flynn, “but everybody kept saying, ‘Where’s your Web site? Where’s your Web site?'”

So she has since invested in a Web site.

Throwing a little pop culture at candidates

POSTED 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9 — In an alternative to the sometimes-repetitive voters forum format, Seattle Works and CityClub sponsored “speed candidating” recently at the Pike Brewing Co. Six of the eight School Board candidates showed up for the event, which was modeled after speed dating. Each candidate sat at a table while members of the public circulated through the bar. They had three minutes to chat before a bell rang and a new constituent took a seat.

Seattle Works, which is a networking organization for people under 40, also released a candidate’s guide that asked for each candidate’s favorite band and coffee shop, among other things. I don’t know how that helps voters decide who would make the best School Board representative, but it is sort of a hipness spot-check. Many of the candidates didn’t respond to the survey. Of those that did, here are their favorite bands:

District 2: Sherry Carr: Five for Fighting; Darlene Flynn: too many to choose from, I listen to blues, R&B, zydeco, folk…

District 6: Maria Ramirez: my son’s group, REVO, a new-age band of high school students

Eastside donor throws money behind candidates

POSTED 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8 — The biggest contributors to any of the races — by far — are Bellevue cellular magnate John Stanton and his wife Theresa Gillespie. Together, they gave $12,000 to Peter Maier’s campaign, $8,000 to Sherry Carr’s campaign, $6,000 to Steve Sundquist’s campaign, and $4,000 to Harium Martin-Morris’ campaign.

There are no campaign-contribution limits in School Board races.

Stanton built Voicestream Wireless — which later became T-Mobile USA — and helped sell it for $30 billion. He also helped build McCaw Cellular Communications, which was later acquired by AT&T and became AT&T Wireless. Later he made millions by selling his company, Western Wireless, to Alltel. He also owns a part of the Seattle Mariners and used to own part of the Sonics. Most recently, he formed a venture capitalism company.

I e-mailed Stanton to ask about his interest in the race. He wrote back: “I am interested in see(ing) people that can provide strong leadership and excellent management take roles in government and in this case, I think the community would particularly benefit from talented people joining the Seattle School Board.”

Stanton has long been involved in statewide politics as a Republican. The Republican Party tried to get him to run for governor in 2004, and he served on Dino Rossi’s short-lived “transition team” before the 2004 governor’s race was resolved.

The School Board races are non-partisan, but all the candidates accepting money from Stanton are endorsed by Democrats. Peter Maier is a longtime Democrat and has served as a precinct committee officer, and Steve Sundquist describes himself as a “lifelong Democrat” in the King County Elections voters pamphlet.

School Board challengers raise big bucks

POSTED 9: 40 a.m. Monday, Oct. 8 — The two incumbents running for re-election in this year’s School Board races are way behind in fundraising.

Sally Soriano, who hopes to retain her District 1 North Seattle seat, has only about $9,000 once you subtract the $5,400 she’s spent on her campaign and the $10,000 she borrowed from herself and family. Her opponent, attorney Peter Maier, has more than $68,000.

The other incumbent, Darlene Flynn, has about $3,400. Her opponent in District 2, former PTSA leader Sherry Carr, has $26,161. They are running for the North Central Seattle seat the Flynn has held for the past four years.

In the District 6 race, retired investment executive Steve Sundquist has a fundraising advantage over nonprofit manager Maria Ramirez. He has about $18,700 to her $3,600.

The campaigns are on track to be more expensive than past School Board campaigns. The District 1 race was the most expensive in 2003, when Sally Soriano raised $72,990 and beat the incumbent, Barbara Schlag Peterson, by 20,000 votes. But raising more money has not always meant victory. In the 2005 School Board races, two winners, Cheryl Chow and Mary Bass, raised less money than their opponents.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com