The Bellevue School District is at a crossroads. Data-driven and action-oriented District 5 school board candidate Valeri Makam can help chart a path forward. The primary election is Aug. 3.

After a stressful and contentious school year, neither of the incumbents in the District 3 or 5 school board positions chose to run for reelection. Superintendent Ivan Duran announced his resignation on May 11, calling the past year “the most difficult” of his professional life.

Seattle Times editorial board endorsements: Election 2021

Makam’s analytical approach to problem solving will be a valuable asset as the school board searches for Duran’s replacement and steers the district toward a successful fall semester. Her big-picture orientation and willingness to ask tough questions will help the board hold administrators accountable for results.

As a founding board member of the character-building nonprofit Camp Kindness Counts, Makam understands the social-emotional needs of Bellevue’s students, which will be important after the pandemic. In an endorsement interview, she deftly deconstructed problems and the resources needed to address them. For example, when discussing staff diversity, she discussed possible systemic changes like making sure incentives were aligned with strategic goals, while also advocating for “surgical changes” that could yield quick improvements.

Like many candidates, she said she will prioritize improving communication between the board, district administrators and the public. Her own common-sense orientation will help her advance that goal.

Also running for the seat are Jane Aras, who ran for the position two years ago, Gregg Smith and Caroline Smith, who are not related.

Makam’s skills and experience make her voters’ best choice.