School Board Candidate Forums

There are two upcoming forums to hear school board candidates. Here's the blurb for one of them:

On Monday, August 6, Pathfinder will be hosting a forum for the candidates for the Seattle School Board. We have 8 candidates who have confirmed attendance. This should be a terrific opportunity to meet the candidates before the August 21 primary. The evening will begin at 5:30 with an old fashioned ice cream social where the public will be able to meet the candidates one to one. At 6:30 each candidate will have three minutes to present their views after which the moderator will ask questions submitted by the audience. Families are encouraged to bring a blanket and picnic dinner. Complimentary ice cream bars will be served. The event is jointly sponsored by your PTSA, Alki School PTSA, Sanislo PTSA, and Arbor Heights PTSA.

Thank you to those PTSAs for their work on this event.

The other one is this:

Primary Election Debate, Seattle School Board, Thursday, August 16, 2007
Registration: 11:30 a.m. Luncheon Program: 12:00 - 1:30
Have the state of Seattle’s public schools been on your mind? Wondering who to vote for in upcoming the School Board race? With the storm surrounding the closure of seven school buildings and a new Superintendent, Maria Goodloe-Johnson of South Carolina, this election is sure to be interesting! CityClub is hosting a debate for Director Districts 1, 2 and 3. What does each candidate see as the top priorities? Will a newly elected board be able to find less controversial ways to save money? Come get the scoop on these competitive seats and pose your questions directly to the candidates. This event is a brown bag lunch – beverages and dessert provided!

The last one is odd because it doesn't include the District 6 candidates. I'm not sure why; I'll call tomorrow and ask. Maybe they just don't feel they would have enough time with so many candidates.


So I called City Club and asked why District 6 candidates aren't going to be at the forum on the August 16th. The woman I spoke to said that they hadn't finished inviting people. I said okay so you're trying to contact those candidates to see if they can come? She said that their program coordinator is looking at the candidates "to see how far they are in their campaigns and if they have a website" to determine if they get invited. Then I asked, "So you're not inviting all the candidates?" She said no.

Personally, I wouldn't go (especially since you have to pay to get in) if they aren't inviting all the candidates. They are a private club and can do whatever they like but, to me, I find it objectionable to not just invite all the candidates. The only people who really can determine the viability of a candidate are voters.

I had been told this was the case by one candidate that hadn't been invited. That candidate called and asked if it was possible to be on the panel and was told no but that it was possible to come and listen.

The Pathfinder forum seems like the better bet.
Anonymous said…
I agree with you on this Melissa, it's just plain creepy. I don't like the idea of exluding candidates at all.
Anonymous said…
Plus, there is ice cream at Pathfinder :-)

In all seriousness, why spend money on a fake forum that only invites certain canidates?
Anonymous said…
Odd, that there are 5 candidates in District 6 race which was excluded. Of all races, this one and District 2 are most heavily contested. Wonder if they invited the frankly certifiable Mr. Bloomstrom (he does have a website after all)?

Seriously, if you host a canidate forum, for better or worse, you better invite them all. Show West Seattle some love. Or, ignore City Club and enjoy some ice cream for free with the canidate at Pathfinder.
Charlie Mas said…
CityClub's Mission is on their web site:

CityClub is committed to fostering civic engagement in issues vital to our community through access to leaders, informative programming, fair debate, and lively exchange of ideas.

I don't see how choosing not to invite certain candidates fulfills the mission of "fair debate".
Eric B said…
We now have 10 candidates that have said they will attend. We did invite every candidate that had an email address or contact information listed with King County or on their website.
-Eric Baer Pathfinder PTSA
Anonymous said…
That is awesome! I will be there!
Charlie Mas said…
I contacted CityClub and asked them about the selective invitation of candidates. I received this prompt and thoughtful reply:

Dear Charlie:

Thanks very much for your thoughtful comments. I appreciate the ideas you express and your initiative in taking the time to write to us. I will bring your thoughts to our Forums Committee and Board.

I’ve attached CityClub’s policy regarding candidate selection. We do screen candidates before inviting them to appear at a CityClub forum or debate. We look at a cluster of criteria to determine their viability and credibility—funds raised, websites, endorsements, for example. Given a 1.5-hour format, our goal is to provide sufficient time for featured candidates to share their perspectives about a spectrum of issues and answer moderator and audience questions. We carefully consider how many candidates we can feature without reducing the time available to offer only sound bytes.

I am happy to tell you that we are adding a new program this year to address the issue of inclusiveness you’ve raised. On October 2, in collaboration with Seattle Works, CityClub will be hosting an event called Speed Dating with Candidates: Your Interactive Voter’s Guide. At this event, attendees will be able to talk and ask questions directly to all candidates for selected offices in the general election.

Please do not hesitate to call or email with further questions or comments. We do appreciate your voice and concerns.



Diane Douglas

Executive Director

The policy was attached.
Well, I appreciate Ms. Douglas' thoughts but it is not a fair debate if City Club culled the candidates based on websites and money. And, by the Oct 2 event, the candidates would be narrowed down. It seems like they should have done the speed dating with the candidates (especially for SB) first.

But if this is the way they are doing it, then I'd expect to see both candidates in the races that have only 2 contenders, otherwise, to me, the fix is in for who they are pushing. It may be one thing to say it is too many candidates for races with 4-5 contenders but not 2.
Anonymous said…
Mr. Douglas's explination does still does not get to why the heavily contested District 6 race is being ignored.

It would have made more sense if CityClub had invited only the canidates who will be participating in the primary election to the first event, and then invited those who are already locked into the general election at the second.
Yes it is curious that District 6 is totally left out. It's not as if their director is any less important than any other district. They invited David Blomstrom (that should be fun) and not Patrick Kelley. (I remember watching the Town Hall forum on School Board candidates and Mr. Blomstrom asked a question and almost as if in unison, all the panelists said no commment.) I don't think any candidate not invited is complaining or wants to make a big deal out of it, that's their call.

I will likely not be in the audience so if someone does go, let us know how they explain who is up there and why.
Anonymous said…
Hmmm, David Blomstrom but not Patrick Kelley? Odd indeed. I am going to Pathfinder because (a) I don't believe in a screened invitation process (b) As a District 6 resident, I feel as if the CityClub forum is not worth my time (c) it is free and (d) there will be ice cream.

All in all, I must say three cheers to Eric the various WS PTSAs for the opportunity to be better informed about my choices.
Maria Ramirez said…
HI all,
Maria Ramirez here, school board candidate for District 6. I got an email yesterday from Ed Prince inviting me to the City Club Candidate Forum. The date on the invite is the 17th. I am going to check tomorrow to see if they added a second date or if this was a typo in the email message. I believe the correct date is Thursday, the 16th. As of this evening Dan Dempsey has not received an invitation to this forum. I can't speak for Steve, but I think its safe to say he got an invite too.

I am looking forward to the Pathfinder forum.

Tomorrow I'm going to SCAN for a short video interview with Lynn Varner from the Seattle Times. I'll send you viewing info once I have it. I believe they are interviewing all the candidates. The interviews will be accessible via the Seattle Times website and cable tv.

This is a great blog, I'll check in once in a while.

Do you have a central place to list all the forums & links to videos or podcasts? Let me know if you'd like a list of the 4 or 5 forums I have on my calendar up until the General Election.

Thanks. Maria.

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