Tick Tock: It's 5:09 pm - The List of Seattle School Board Candidates for 2015

Updated:  I left off one person and somehow, someone got in late (because I checked at 5:05 pm and this person was not there - odd).
end of update

As usual, a flurry of last minute filings for Seattle School Board for the four positions up for election.

This thread is just an overview.  I'll write up something separate on my thoughts on these candidates as well as how the first candidate forum on Thursday night at the 46th Democrats went.

First, a few observations:

Clearly, something has hit a boiling point in Seattle Schools where we have multiple candidates who have experience in Special Education issues. 

We have two candidates with a legal background and two candidates with an engineering background.

I think we may have only one minority candidate.

One huge mystery - where are the ed reform candidates?  Only Lauren McGuire who has worked with a group to reform school boards seems in that camp.  (I did overhear a couple of people at last night's 46th Dems meeting saying they were having a hard time finding people to run.) Update: spoke too soon - Julie McCleery.

Or maybe the ed reformers are going another route.  However, there is one thing to keep on your radar is that the word has been passed to many candidates (across all kinds of offices) - that support for mayoral appointments to the Board will not be your friend in this election.  Even Tim Burgess seems to be backing off the idea.
District 1 (Sharon Peaslee's district - she's not running)

Michael Christophersen
I believe that Mr. Christophersen is a Seattle schools parent with an interest in Special Education issues.  He is an engineer and was a Microsoft perma-temp (this gleaned from a Times' article where he was quoted).  He was featured in a Seattle Times article about people who don't marry. He and his long-time companion have two children who I believe are in Seattle Schools.  He supported Kate Martin when she ran for school Board.

Scott S. Pinkham
Mr. Pinkham is a Native American (Nez Perce, growing up on the Yakama reservation).  who teaches at the University of Washington.  He has two children in Seattle Schools.  He is active in the Native American Clear Sky Native Youth Council. 

He currently works full-time for the College of Engineering, but also teaches for the American Indian Studies department on the UW campus.  He has been at UW since 1995. 

District 2 - (Sherry Carr's district - she's not running)
Rick Burke
Rick Burke is a long-time district parent/activist especially around math education.  He is an engineer by trade.  He has three children; two still in Seattle Schools.  Website.

Through my profession, I set strategic targets, meet and negotiate with clients worldwide, develop and enforce company policies, and oversee HR and financial functions. As the partner of a teacher, I have experienced the highs and lows of the Seattle classroom experience. I've served as PTA co-president, executive chair of Where's The Math?, and co-founder of the Seattle Math Coalition. I understand how to seek out the root causes of problems, and how to apply systemic engineering principles to organizations.

Laura Gramer
Laura Gramer
Laura Obara Gramer is also a Seattle Schools parent.  I'm fairly certain she's the same Laura Gramer who has been faithfully attending - and speaking - at Board meetings to advocate for her children (and others') who are deaf/hard of hearing.  She has two deaf children.  She has a bachelor's in Occupational Therapy. 

She serves on the Mayor's Commission for People with Disabilities and has served on the board of Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services.  From the Commission's webpage:

Ms. Gramer has engaged in substantial public speaking and lecturing on deafness, disability, and occupational therapy. Ms. Gramer has consistently worked to bridge the deaf and deaf-blind communities to the larger disability rights community.


Julie McCleery

Julie McClerry is the Managing Director at University of Washington College of Education - INSPIRE, used to have a consulting/coaching business for seven years and formerly worked at the Alliance for Education.  She has coached rowing for many years.  Her LinkedIn page says she was looking for an opportunity "on a non-profit board."  She is a doctoral candidate in Education Policy.
Her Facebook page seems to indicate she has bi-racial children.

Deborah Leblang
Google shows Ms. Leblang as formerly working for the EPA (in 2000) and now is an art instructor at the Art Institute in Seattle.

She has two Master's - Art History and Archaeology  and Historic Preservation

She lives near Blanchet High School and she and her husband were signers of a petition to not allow stadium lighting/sound at the high school's field in 2012.

District 3 (Harium Martin-Morris' district - he's not running)

Jill Geary
Jill Geary is the mother of five children, three still in SPS.  Two are Special Education students.
She is an attorney who also served as an Administrative Law Judge for OSPI, "managing all OSPI's hearings, including special education due process hearings."   

She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Academy for Precision Learning in Seattle, is the Special Education PTSA Representative for Laurelhurst Elementary and a member of Seattle School District’s Special Education Advocacy and Advisory Committee.

Stephen J. Clayton
I could find very little about Mr. Clayton.  I believe he lives in the Thornton Creek area and may have been a community member who gave input during discussions about that school and its property.  I believe he was also an active member of the 46th (although I attended the 46th candidate forum last night and he was not on the school board candidate portion of the meeting). 

Lauren McGuire
Lauren has spent years working in the PTA and served as President of the Seattle Council PTSA.  From her webpage:

I’ve been a member of several district committees, including Facilities and Capacity Management Advisory Committee (FACMAC), and SPS’s Special Education Task Force. I have a professional background in quantitative analysis, communication, and change management.  (Note: I had previously said she was an "accountant" but she is not.)


David Blomstrom
A perennial candidate in this district, very abrasive and unkind in his remarks about other candidates and elected officials.

District 6 (Marty McLaren's district, she is running to retain her seat)

Suzanne L. Sutton
I couldn't find much on Ms. Sutton.  I believe she was/is a Pathfinder parent.

Nick Esparza
Mr. Esparza is also a perennial candidate in this district.  The last time I interviewed him for this office, he could not clearly explain his qualifications nor experience.  A sometimes speaker at school board meetings.

Leslie Harris
Leslie is a long-time parent and public education activist in the district.  Her daughter is graduating from Chief Sealth this year where Harris has been active in the PTA.  Harris is a litigation paralegal and active Democrat in both her district and the state.  She has also served on boards for community college and contemporary dance. 

Public disclosure: Leslie is a friend of mine. 


Marty McLaren
Ms. McLaren is a former math educator, a parent whose children went thru SPS and is the grandparent of a student in Seattle Schools. She was also a preschool teacher and substitute teacher. She was also active in the PTA.  She has served one term on the Seattle Schools School Board.

Website (note: this is her website since her first election so I do not know if the endorsements there are still valid.  They are dated 2011.)


Ragweed said…
There are two additional last minute filings from district 2- Deborah Leblang and Julie McCleery.
Linh-Co said…
Julie McCleery is Managing Director of UW College of Ed, Harvard graduate, and worked for Alliance for Education. That speaks for itself.
Linh-Co, I'm always happy to give people the benefit of the doubt but this seems very last minute. That yesterday Rick Burke had no challengers and now he has three? I personally am glad because I think it is better for open discussion but I have to wonder about three candidates who come in virtually (and literally) at the last minute.
Julie McCleery looks to be the candidate of the corporate education "reformers" - the people who want to destroy our children's chance at a quality education, replacing it with test prep and worsening existing inequalities of class and race while handing our schools over to private investors.

Rick Burke is a champion for parents and students, someone who will stand up to a central staff that is openly contemptuous of the health and well being of our children. In my district, at least, I know he has the best interests of my son and every other child in the district at heart. He deserves our strong support.
Anonymous said…
Very glad that Rick's running; my husband worked with him on math adoption last year and he has (IMO) the right views. Will be reaching out to see how we can help his campaign.

Anonymous said…
I'll be attending candidate forums, especially for Marty McLaren. I don't understand why she's running again.

Anonymous said…
"Her Facebook page seems to indicate she has bi-racial children."

And your purpose for making sure everyone is aware that this ladies kids are bi-racial is because what?

Anonymous said…
I didn't see the ethnicity or race in the first sentence (or part) of the bio of any candidate other than Scott Pinkham.

--enough already
Patrick said…
Why shouldn't McClaren run again? Her major campaign platform last time was better math textbooks, and thanks largely to her work that was accomplished for the elementary math textbook adoption.
Linh-Co said…
@ REALLY - maybe the observation was interesting since her opponent, Rick Burke, also have biracial children.
Really, I put that in because she has an open Facebook page and I saw family photos. It would seem to me that information might be something that would resonate with some voters in terms of her understanding about students of color.

And yes, Rick Burke also has bi-racial children which might resonate with some voters.

I'm just trying to give information that might give a fuller picture of candidates.
Anonymous said…
The fact that Marty McLaren 's official website has not been updated is disturbing. I know for a fact that some of the people listed as endorsers are NOT supporting her this go around. And that she has been informed. For her to continue to publish these names as well as the names of others whom she has not secured their endorsement is highly unethical.

--Informed Voter
Unknown said…
It would be wonderful if candidates would answer tremendously important questions.

There are a number of widely accepted practices that do not work. There are a number of school reform ideas that are being pushed by Gates etc that are completely unproven.

An excellent starting point for thought can be found in this Jay Matthews column and the book
"Ain't Nobody Learnin' Nothin': The Fraud and the Fix for High Poverty Schools" by Caleb Rossiter.

Of course a huge Seattle Schools problem is how to get the Board to enforce policy and hold admin accountable.

-- Dan Dempsey
Watching said…
My prediction: The dollars in this year's school board races will be epic.
Anonymous said…
Julie McCleery has withdrawn.

Anonymous said…
McLaren is just too nice, too trusting, and too congenial with JSCEE staff members to be independent-minded, and thus, effective in her role. While she pushed for better math while campaigning, my understanding was that she was ready to vote for EnVision, probably, in her mind, as a compromise. While I have that only as hearsay, it would be consistent with her general tenor, which is always to give the benefit of the doubt to people at JSCEE who frankly don't deserve it.

I supported Marty last time around, but this time, I'm supporting Leslie Harris. I want someone strong and willing to stick their necks out like Peters and Patu have done. For that, I think Leslie Harris is the right person for West Seattle, and at the right time for SPS.


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