Vivian Song Maritz, Michelle Sarju, and incumbent Brandon Hersey were leading Tuesday in the races for three seats on the Seattle School Board, the state’s largest school district. 

Song Maritz had nearly 68% of the vote, Sarju had 82%, and Hersey was in the lead with about 91%.

The three winners will inherit long-standing transportation, transparency and communications issues. The school year started off with late bus routes — sometimes up to 60 routes a day — and recently the district had to cut more than 100 routes in an effort to avoid the buses’ running late. 

The national bus driver shortage has hit Seattle Schools hard, and the district has been working to recruit more drivers and train them quickly. The board will also have the task of hiring a new superintendent. 

The only incumbent in the race is Hersey, who represents District 7, encompassing Southeast Seattle. His opponent, Genesis Williamson, discontinued her campaign on July 26, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

The two candidates running for District 4, which includes Queen Anne, Magnolia and Ballard, are Laura Marie Rivera and Song Maritz. Rivera said she has been an educator for 30 years in the public and private sector where she’s taught kindergarten, school programs at museums, and art education for adults and children.

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Rivera said she is focused on making sure students have better access to education programs, especially for students who are often left behind. Song Maritz said she would work to improve the experiences of communities that have been overlooked, like English learners and students with disabilities. 

If elected, Song Maritz said she would reevaluate her living situation. To run for the District 4 seat, she moved into an apartment in Ballard. Before the election filing deadline, she was living on Capitol Hill, where her family currently resides. 

Although Tuesday’s results don’t “honor the goals of district representation on the school board” because of Song Maritz’s living situation, Rivera said she wished her opponent “luck and success to working hard on behalf of kids and schools.”

District 5 candidate Sarju, who works for King County as a maternal and child health project manager, said she would prioritize students’ emotional and mental health and push for nurses and counselors to be at every school building. The district also needs to have better communication and transparency with families, specifically regarding scenarios of school shut downs. 

Sarju said she was “excited” but also “stunned” to get almost 100,000 votes.

“It’s a statement and a testament that people are actually believing in what I said and in this vision that all kids should have access to high quality public school education and return the focus to the children,” Sarju said. 

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Dan Harder, who ran as a Republican for the state Senate in 2018, said he would focus on high expectations for students, and make sure the school system fosters equality and quality education for everybody.

District 5 includes downtown, Capitol Hill, Chinatown International District, First Hill, Leschi, Madison and the Central District. 

Hersey, the incumbent representing District 7, was a second-grade teacher in the Federal Way School District but now works as a political director for PROTEC17, a union representing engineers and other professionals at the city, county and state levels.

Hersey said he would continue to focus on student engagement, specifically getting student board members to participate in meetings and discussions.

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