This article from the Times talks about the race between Buetow and Martin-Morris. It casts the race as different from the rest because (1) Buetow is trying to run a positive campaign and talk about what needs to change in the district and what she would bring to that process and (2) Martin-Morris has some favorable independent votes in his pocket (against the school closures and the high school math curriculum).
I give Harium credit on those votes for sure. I'm not sure it makes for a stellar record overall.
What's interesting is this idea that the challenger would have nothing to run on versus an incumbent. Well, naturally, if you haven't been in office, you don't have a public office record. Michelle is running on her record as an active parent and community member working for better schools in her district. Challengers run on past efforts and experiences.
I give both of them credit for trying to stay on issues, not on personalities.
Which brings me to Peter Maier and Steve Sundquist.
Steve has consistently - without mentioning Marty McLaren's name - said that activist, one-issue candidates are not what is needed. He'd be right except that I don't believe any of the challengers is a one-note candidate. That Marty and Sharon have special expertise in math issues doesn't mean they don't care about anything else (or that would be all they would spend their time on). Both have given credible answers to questions on other issues. But okay, that's a time-honored classic "paint your opponent" tactic.
But what is worse is Steve continually trots out this story of how dysfunctional and/or chaotic the previous Board was and how this Board came in and cleaned up Dodge. Nonsense, of course. Steve (and Sherry) like to say there were no processes in place and that's why it was a mess. There were (and are) Board policies but there was a bare minimum of enforcement (then and now). That we have more processes now around financial issues is because of the horrible audit we had in June 2010 that specifically called out THIS Board's lack of oversight.
Then, at Tuesday night's forum, Peter explains how he is the legislative rep for the Board and that's been part of his work. Great but then he goes on to say during the last Board's tenure, how the district's lobbyist was told by legislators NOT to bring School Board members to Olympia. I was pretty disgusted. I have asked Peter to name names since he feels it is so important that the public know about this.
Look, who are these guys running against, the previous Board or their challengers?
This district was no more a train wreck when they came in than it is now (not by my measure). The previous Board was loud and proud - that is true. But they were also bookended by two Boards (this one and the Olchefske one) who BOTH had financial scandals and superintendents they had to exit. So the name-calling and finger-pointing at past boards seems wrong and unseemly (not to mention a tad desperate).
Here's a bit of what I wrote to the entire Board today:
I want to gently point out that someday - either by your own decision or the vote of the people of Seattle - you will ALL be former School Board directors.
Now I'm sure you won't want anyone to whitewash what happened during your tenure nor to be tarred for just one thing that occurred during your tenure. AND you especially would not like it if the NEXT Board continually bad-mouthed the work of the entire Board you served with.
The shoe will be on the other foot someday; think of how you would feel.
I know in campaigns you reach for all the tools you have on your belt. But let's not use them below the belt against people who aren't even in the race.