Eight months before Election Day, three people have filed paperwork to campaign for the Seattle School Board, and more are thinking about...
Eight months before Election Day, three people have filed paperwork to campaign for the Seattle School Board, and more are thinking about it.
Attorney Peter Maier, who recently led the successful effort to pass an $887 million bond and levy for the district, is set to announce he is running for a seat representing North Seattle, which is now held by Sally Soriano. Soriano has also indicated she will seek re-election.
Lisa Stuebing, past chairwoman of the 43rd District Democrats, submitted forms with the state Public Disclosure Commission enabling her to raise campaign money. She is seeking the seat held by Darlene Flynn, who represents the Green Lake, Greenwood and University District neighborhoods.
Flynn said she had not made a decision to run. “I’m thinking about it, considering it very seriously,” she said.
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The seats of four incumbents are up for election this fall: Flynn, Soriano, Irene Stewart and Brita Butler-Wall, who also was undecided. Soriano and Stewart did not respond to an interview request.
“I think of this as a civic gig,” Butler-Wall said. “It is a volunteer position for four years, and it’s a huge time commitment.”
It’s been a tough year for the 46,000-student school district. After the board’s decision to close seven school buildings, a group of citizens unsuccessfully sued the board. A recall petition against five members also failed.
The budget is now balanced, but the district expects more deficits next year. And the board hopes to have a new superintendent before the election.
In his State of the City address earlier this month, Mayor Greg Nickels hinted at widespread discontent with the School Board.
“Our schools have reached a state of disarray that goes beyond finances — it has become a crisis of confidence,” Nickels said. “With a majority of the seats on the School Board up for election this fall, we have a chance to set a new course.”
Maier was president of the pro-levy campaign Schools First! for five years and resigned two weeks ago to run for the board. He said that there’s a financial need to close schools, but the board needs to manage money more effectively.
Stuebing opposed the closures and said the district should partner with other public agencies to use school facilities full time.
While the campaigns ramp up so, too, will an effort to focus attention on the School Board elections.
Former board member Barbara Schaad-Lamphere, who chose not to run for re-election in 2003, said she has spoken to others interested in running, though she would not provide names. The would-be candidates share common traits, she said.
“People have a distinctly different approach from the School Board members now in terms of making the difficult decisions that lie ahead. They are determined to work more effectively as a board,” Schaad-Lamphere said.
She is kicking off a nonprofit group that will hold a series of meetings to generate interest in the election. “We are at a fork in the road,” she said. “We have tough decisions in the future. I think all School Board elections are important, but we have a fever pitch of interest in public schools right now.”
Alex Fryer: 206-464-8124 or firstname.lastname@example.org