Seattle School Board District 4 candidate Laura Marie Rivera is a practical, student-focused candidate who would bring needed perspective to a board that too often loses sight of its essential responsibilities.

She understands that Seattle Public Schools students have diverse post-graduation aspirations, and that it’s the district’s job to help prepare them for those futures. In an endorsement interview, she consistently focused on the real-world impacts of board decisions on students and their families — a refreshing change.

Seattle Times editorial board endorsements: Election 2021

Regarding the homeless encampment near Broadview-Thomson elementary school, for example, Rivera said the district has a “big heart,” but needed better plans and policies to ensure that school days aren’t disrupted.

When asked about common complaints that the board gives little notice of important decisions and scant opportunity for public comment, she observed that the parents’ feedback is not reflected in board decisions. She vowed to hold monthly meetings with parents and other stakeholders to build lines of communication.

In contrast, Erin Dury, who was appointed to the seat in March to serve the final months of former Director Eden Mack’s term, shared no thoughts about Broadview-Thomson parents’ concerns about drugs, weapons and disruptions to the school day, even when given a second opportunity. Regarding public comment, she said, “Being heard at a board meeting is important, but by the time it’s at a board meeting, it’s baked.”

Dury softened her position when reminded that the board is legally bound to make decisions in public meetings, not behind the scenes. But her response, perhaps unintentionally, put a finger on the problem. The board’s quick and quiet decision in January to hire an interim superintendent is only one example.

Also running for the seat are Herb Camet Jr. and Vivian Song Maritz. Maritz is a Harvard-educated mother of four who established residency in the district just last month so she could run for the position. Camet, a retired educator, wants the board to be even more involved in day-to-day operations rather than focus on high-level policy direction.

That’s the last thing the district needs. Rivera is the best choice.