The August primary will winnow the field for two seats on the Seattle School Board.
Once again, the Seattle School Board will soon have three, if not four, new members.
In the past, that’s happened after voters ditched incumbents for newcomers in the fall elections. This time, it’s already a given, since three of the four incumbents up for re-election this year decided not to run again.
The action starts on Aug. 4, when primary voters will narrow the field in two of the four races.
In West Seattle’s District 6, incumbent Marty McLaren will defend her seat against two challengers, with the top two vote-getters moving on to the November ballot.
Most Read Local Stories
- Washington drivers who break "Move Over Law" could face $214 ticket this weekend — here's a refresher on the law
- How much easier was it for baby boomers to buy a home in Seattle? Let's adjust for inflation | FYI Guy
- A year after officials called off search for hiker Sam Sayers, her mother is still looking
- Elizabeth Warren's Sunday town hall is moved to Seattle Center
- Woodland Park Zoo red-tailed hawk gets loose, staff work to coax him home
In District 3, which includes parts of northeast Seattle and downtown, voters will choose two out of four candidates for the seat now held by Harium Martin-Morris.
McLaren is seeking her second term on the board, which she won after defeating then-incumbent Steve Sundquist. In that race, she was viewed as one of the activist challengers to a number of incumbents who many considered too cozy with corporate elites and too willing to rubber stamp the superintendent’s agenda.
But this time, she is running without the support of West Seattle’s 34th Legislative District Democrats, which endorsed her last time.
This year, that group gave their sole endorsement to paralegal and longtime party activist Leslie Harris, who received 87 percent of the vote.
Although McLaren was elected in an activist wave, she doesn’t think winner-take-all politics serves the board well.
She played a big role in writing the School Board’s code of conduct, aimed at improving the way board members treat each other.
“My colleagues have bought into my approach,” McLaren said. “We are much more collaborative now than we were in the first few years of my tenure.”
Harris — who also won the sole endorsement of King County Democrats and has raised about $11,000 compared with about $3,000 for McLaren — said she can ensure that the district is more upfront about what it’s doing and why, particularly with the overcrowding of West Seattle’s schools.
“I’m not a micromanager, but I will ask tough questions,” Harris said. “I’ll ask for information in advance of meetings so we can ask better questions and I will ask for follow-up.”
The third candidate, Nick Esparza, wants less testing and more classroom support for teachers, such as instructional assistants in special education. He has not raised campaign money.
Geary is an attorney and a former administrative law judge whose caseload has included disputes over teacher certification, discipline and special-education services.
She would bring an unusually high level of expertise in special-education law and policy to the board, but says she would not try to micromanage. “I am very clear on the issue of jurisdiction and authority,” she said. “The role that a board member plays is limited.”
But part of the board’s role is to enforce its own policies, and parents don’t always see that happening, she said. “In their attempts to be heard and engaged with the district, they think they are playing by rules that are then thrown by the wayside.”
She has raised about $34,000 so far and counts Seattle School Board member Sue Peters and Seattle City Council members Mike O’Brien and Bruce Harrell among her supporters.
McGuire is a former Seattle Council PTSA president and has raised about $22,000. Her supporters include current board members Martin-Morris, Sherry Carr and Sharon Peaslee.
McGuire said she has gained the support of people with diverse ideological views because she focuses on solving problems, which can be as broad as planning for swelling enrollment or as specific as making sure new schools open without any hitches.
“New schools are going to be opening up all over the city in the next several years,” McGuire said. “I would like to make sure we have sufficient oversight from the board to make sure these are going well.”
Clayton, who is semiretired, says he wants smaller schools that kids can walk to and to pay more attention to childhood obesity.
Blomstrom, who ran unsuccessfully for School Board in 2007 and 2011, expounds on his profane website on a wide range of local and global conspiracies involving Jews, corporations and the media.
The other two open seats this fall — District 1 currently held by Peaslee and District 2, represented by Carr — have two contestants each, who will automatically proceed to the general election in November.