Three of the seven candidates in the race for the District 4 seat on the Seattle School Board don’t have children. Parent Eden Mack, however, is the front-runner.
Three of the seven candidates in the race for the District 4 seat on the Seattle School Board don’t have children. While that’s unusual for school-board hopefuls, they say it shouldn’t be a liability.
What matters, they say, is their concern about their communities and the city’s schools.
The Seattle teachers union has endorsed one of them — Megan Locatelli Hyska, whose background in community outreach and nonprofits impressed the endorsement committee, said union Vice President Michael Tamayo.
“A lot of the challenges Seattle faces as a city are the challenges the school district faces,” Tamayo said. “It was quite refreshing to hear the viewpoint of somebody who cares about education as an advocate and brings this perspective to the board.”
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Still, the front-runner in the race — based on money raised and endorsements — is a parent, Eden Mack, who also has been a longtime school volunteer.
With $14,700 in contributions, Mack has raised more money than any other candidate in the three board races this year. Only one other District 4 candidate has raised any funds at all. The incumbent, Sue Peters, decided against seeking re-election.
Only residents who live in District 4, which covers Belltown, Queen Anne, Magnolia and Ballard, can vote in the Aug. 1 primary election. The two candidates who receive the most votes will move on to the November election, when all Seattle voters will decide the winner.
In the second of two stories about this year’s primary races for board seats, here are the candidates for District 4. The story on candidates in Districts 5 and 7 was published last Monday.
Candidates who responded to The Seattle Times interview requests were all asked the same questions. Each quote is one that stood out during the interview.
Herbert Camet Jr., 70, is a former teacher and principal who has worked in several schools in the United States, the Middle East and Asia. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer and was a public-relations specialist in 11 countries.
“I am probably the single most professionally knowledgeable, academically qualified, personally experienced, intellectually capable, and philosophically suited candidate for the Seattle School Board ever than any other current or past board member, and even more so compared to the local crop of other candidates seeking the board post in this district election now.”
Sean Champagne, 26, is a personal banker at Inspirus Credit Union, formerly known as the School Employees Credit Union. He was elected to the Queen Anne Community Council last year and serves on the Parks Committee for Queen Anne. If elected, he would be the first openly gay Seattle School Board director. (Zach Pullin DeWolf, a candidate in the District 5 race, could be another.) He did not respond to interview requests.
Jennifer Crow, 44, is a health-care officer supervisor who grew up in Seattle and taught English in Japan. She attended private schools, but her husband graduated from Seattle Public Schools. Her daughter will start kindergarten in 2018. She is endorsed by Seattle teacher Robert Femiano and Seattle parent and community advocate Laura Obara Gramer and has raised $1,000.
“One thing I would like to fix now involves students with disabilities, especially those who are deaf and hard of hearing. There were lots of recommendations that haven’t been put in place yet. We’re losing good access for these students and not providing them with the resources that they need. That is one thing I would look at right away, since those recommendations have been looked at and not fixed yet.”
Megan Locatelli Hyska, 32, is the executive director of Foothold NW, a nonprofit startup that provides information about higher-education finance and helps those in crisis who need help with student loans. She is also the principal at Dellaloca Design, which works with nonprofit organizations on their marketing and social-media presence. She is endorsed by the Seattle Education Association.
“I feel like people who are coming in as parents, they have their perspective, they know what it is like to have a child in public schools. Just because I don’t have children at this juncture doesn’t mean I don’t have knowledge of what it means to be successful in a public school system. I think that I can be a motivator. And I I think everybody should care about education. Education impacts every other institution.”
Eden Mack, 44, is a volunteer advocate who has served as the legislative chair for the Seattle Council PTSA since 2014 and was a founding member of the education-funding group Washington’s Paramount Duty. She has three children — one at Cascadia Elementary and two at Lawton Elementary. Her endorsements include King County Democrats, current District 4 School Board member Sue Peters and 2014 state Teacher of the Year Lyon Terry.
“I’m running because I am deeply committed to public education as it is the center of our communities and our democracy. Seattle schools need effective, knowledgeable and committed board directors who know the district and challenges we face, and how to find solutions and make policy decisions that will provide every student in Seattle schools with the great education they are constitutionally guaranteed.”
Lisa Melenyzer, 47, is a fiscal specialist at Hamilton International Middle School and former PTA co-president at Whittier Elementary and PTSA president at Hamilton. She has two children who will attend Ingraham High School and Robert Eagle Staff Middle School this fall.
“I’m not really running as an issue candidate. I don’t think there is one thing the School Board should be doing differently, but I’ve been in the district for a long time and I see a lot of places where the school district is falling down. What we need is people who are interested in what the public has to say and in holding the school district administration accountable for what the school district should be delivering. I think it’s a fine line with the school board and the district administration where they want to work together and be congenial, and unfortunately sometimes that has to mean asking a lot of hard questions.”
Darrell Toland, 58, is a user interface and motion designer. He has two daughters who attend Seattle schools and was part of a group of Loyal Heights Elementary parents who opposed replacing the school’s building with a “mega school.” He did not respond to interview requests.