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Monday, May 20, 2019

Seattle School Board Races Update

Readers, some of you may have seen my name listed at King County Elections to run for Rick Burke's seat in District 2.  I did that for strategic reasons, namely, I didn't want someone to sneak on the ballot at the last minute with no challenger.  There are two candidates now for that position and so, true to form, I'm not running.  (Everybody at JSCEE can exhale now.)

Note to those who are not as in-the-know about campaigning.  You file to run with King County Elections but you are not truly running until you register with the Public Disclosure Commission.   (Yes, I know legally when you file, you are a candidate but to get and spend money, you need the PDC registration.)

The only three names I see so far at the PDC are Leis, Blumhagen and Muniz.  I'm sure the others will get around to it soon.

Update:
 I neglected to attribute the statement below to the head of Ethnics Studies at SPS who is running for Highline School Board.  I assumed no one would want to look that unprepared but apparently not.

End of update
It does make me smile at the number of people who think running for school board is just filing, getting a couple of helpers and off you go.  In 2019, that's some unsophisticated thinking.  I saw this statement at one Facebook page from who is running for a school board position (not Seattle):

I was told I need a "team" of people to help me run. I thought it was as easy as filing and banking on my good looks and massive brains.

Here's who's running (at least as of 1:30 pm - people can withdraw until 4:30 pm):

Seattle School District 1, Director District 1
Comments:  Rankin and Blumhagen are the most knowledgeable people about the district on that list running.   Christophersen has run before and anyone who witnessed him at debates knows it's a big, big no for him. 

Seattle School District 1, Director District 2

Update:  Rebecca Wilson has also droppped out, leaving Lisa Rivera Smith as the only candidate for District 2.

End of update

Comments: Rivera Smith is a long-time PTA president (at Hamilton and now at Lincoln); I have never heard of Wilson who appears to have gone thru the Chamber of Commerce leadership process and favors charter schools.  Given the latter, it's Rivera Smith for me.
Seattle School District 1, Director District 3

Comments:  Leis is an parent and writes the Community Forum for HCC blog,  Hampson is a SPS parent and the Seattle Council PTSA president (almost a year) and Muniz hasn't been on my radar but her Twitter account says: Latinx, daughter of Mexican immigrant parents. Sister, auntie, friend. Seattle organizer.  

Seattle School District 1, Director District 6
Comments: Harris is, of course, the President of the School Board and Molly E. Mitchell, also someone I have not heard of before, appears to be the Director of Student Support Programs at Seattle Central College.  I can't verify Liston's background; when her listed website goes live, we should learn more.

Reader Night Owl says this:

Both Eric Blumhagen and Lisa Rivera Smith are doing very well, having gotten the 46th Dems endorsement and the King County Young Dems endorsement. I have also heard that they both got the recommendation from the 36th Dems e-board.

Chandra Hampson and Rebeca Muniz both got the 46th Dems endorsement.


Any other news or thoughts?

46 comments:

z said...

I was feeling pretty excited after seeing your name on the KC Elections site, and a bit disappointed now, but I understand that you have your reasons, and there's more than one way to effect change.

You've certainly been effective gathering information, advocating, and managing this blog over the years, but with your All Good Things Must Change post the other day I actually thought you might be considering a run for district 2. Think what could be accomplished with the likely lineup. I may just be dreaming, but it's a good dream.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It appears another candidate, Rebecca Wilson, has dropped out.

Anonymous said...

There are no debates, only forums. Glad you're not running.

Facts matter

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I could never support Chandra Hampson. She is too confrontational and unprofessional to be on the school board. My vote would go to Benjamin Leis. I personally think Melissa would be an amazing school board member.

Future Board

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I’m also disappointed to know that you are not running, Melissa!

-Let’s Talk

Linh-Co said...

I wish you would stay in the race Melissa. We need strong voices on the Board. It's all about the majority and I do worry with the list of candidates running. Darcie Kline is Michael Christopherson's partner.

Anonymous said...

Rick Burke sure turned out to be weak board member. Maybe the worst kind. I say this because of his failed promises and how he did not give notice to vacating the position.

Westbrook seems to be able to dish it out but could never take the heat. She has maligned people for 10 years with this blog and just when it seems she was going to put some skin in the game she admits to some sort of political manipulation and chickens out.

Typical games

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's one or two members who should be singled out for the chaos at SPS. I would blame the entire board for every single issue. The district was allowed to fall into a dire financial crisis under the current board's watch.

Maybe the board should have paid more attention to the districts finances instead of congratulatory salutations to each other from the dais?

Sam


Melissa Westbrook said...

Typical Games, very funny coming from someone who can't even sign their own name. I have for more than a decade. You think running for office is harder than this? Please.

Sam, really? It's the board's fault for the financial crisis? Do keep up; it's the Legislature and some poor spending decisions by Nyland and his staff.

Anonymous said...

What ? you're funny. Flip Flop much?

The boards only responsibility is to provided oversight and approve the budget.

Wow we are lucky you checked out!

Sam

Anonymous said...

Linh-Co is Burke's wife?

Wait..what.

You mean his wife has been posting on this blog the whole time he has been on the board?

Wow this whole story gets seedier by the minute.

Typical games

Anonymous said...

For all those people who thought Melissa was actually going to run for the school board, jokes on you. She was never going to run. She would have had to campaign and take hard questions (without the ability to just delete those questions, as she does here). And if she had won, of which there was more than a good chance, she would have been held accountable for her policy positions and her rhetoric for the first time in her adult life.

There's no way she was going to subject herself to actual accountability.

Bolingbroke

Anonymous said...

Melissa would have made an excellent board member, and would strike fear into the hearts of everyone at the JSCEE that they might finally face some real accountability and oversight. But they also would have retaliated by trying to make her miserable and launch every sort of nasty personal attack they could imagine. In fact, they'd already started. And now Melissa gets to continue speaking the truth with no limitations, rallying the public to fix this broken district.

District 2 seems to be in good hands with Lisa Rivera Smith, who is liked and supported by a lot of good people. So that leaves the other three districts where there are some pretty clear choices and contrasts. Should be an interesting election.

Monmouth

Anonymous said...

@Typical Games, are you publishing the knave's guide to blog rules?

JSCEE, teachers, community members, politicians post here all the time mostly under pseudonyms. To single out Rick Burke's wife and Burke himself it's obvious you have an ax to grind and no one's fooled.

Anyone who's attended a Board or community meeting, read board materials or watched the videos knows the Board face an incredible onslaught of diverse and at times divisive opinions and work incredibly hard in an unpaid position in addition to their day jobs.

Burke has always approached decision making thoughtfully and intelligently with due diligence. I will really miss having someone of his caliber on the Board.

If you have such a poor opinion of Burke, it's not him, it's you.

Rorschach Blot

Anonymous said...

I don’t know Melissa Westbrook personally, but I have appreciated this blog over the years. I have learned much about the challenges of public education and charter schools from this, and have appreciated the oftentimes varied input from the community. We all don’t need to agree on everything together.

I myself would rather see a board member ask the hard questions while doing the “oversight” of policy and the weighing of recommendations from committees & district administrators (in addition to the “approving the budget” work, of course) - than for me to witness (or tolerate) the appearance of “rubber stamping” among the school board members. While no one board member possesses the power to really do anything on his/her own authority, I believe that someone like Melissa could provide some fuel and insight on certain issues to balance out the board so that it can strive to be an effective group for all of us. Just my opinion, folks.

Let’s talk

Melissa Westbrook said...

It sure is interesting that no one has commented that Lisa Rivera Smith has just walked into office (unless, she, too, also steps out but I doubt that). So that's one position done. It's not even up at KC Elections anymore.

The other races do look interesting and I look forward to hearing from the candidates.

Anonymous said...

The District 2 position is still listed at King County Elections, as far as I can tell: https://info.kingcounty.gov/kcelections/Vote/contests/who-has-filed.aspx

Lisa Rivera Smith is a great candidate - progressive, definitely not ed reform, anti-charter, experience mobilizing parents for a common cause, knows the district well, is a woman of color, focused on the whole child, has good ideas about how to deliver racial equity in schools. She'll do a great job on the board.

What I find most interesting is that the charter school supporter, Rebecca Wilson, quit the race. The charter/ed reform crew must have known it was hopeless.

Pere

Anonymous said...

One of the most frustrating things about SPS is that families, neighborhoods, volunteers, teachers are involved in the schools for decades. District level staff is turning over every couple of years. They have no institutional memory so the same mistakes happen again and again. Sometimes we have board members who can bring some institutional memory to the table. I would love to see Melissa Westbrook on the board. Though I can understand why Melissa would not want the job.

-HS Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Pere, interesting about District 2 race; I had just checked before I posted that comment. Wilson dropped out after I dropped out.

Anonymous said...

Technically a write-in campaign could defeat Rivera Smith.

Writeaway

Anonymous said...

I think there should be a write-in. It would be easy to do in the primary, but not likely in the general.

--PEEPE

Melissa Westbrook said...

Writeaway, Peepe, who would you write in?

Anonymous said...

You! :-)

Writeaway

Anonymous said...

If there is a write-in for D2 and they get enough votes then do they move on to the general? How does that work?

P

André said...

To bad you weren’t really running. Your knowledge of the district and proven commitment to education could have been good. I’m not looking for candidates that I agree with on everything or for some hot new political player. I’m looking for a) heart in the right place, b) head in the game, c) a little moxy and a lot of commitment. Sure you won’t reconsider?

Watching said...

Both Melissa AND Andre would be wonderful board members and representatives. Perhaps there will be a chance for Andre to get onto the school board, after all!


Hopefully DeWolf will resign. The students deserve better.

Anonymous said...

Oh gee wiz it's another school board election season and just on time another SPS crisis. Uh wait multiple crisis!

The district gets $1,000,000,000 per year and apparently can't function within it means.

Teachers let go.
Librarians let go.
Bus service in shambles.
School buildings in disrepair.
Spending money they don't have on the flashy curriculum.

So what actions did the current school board take to advert these crisis?

5 of the 7 board members are hitting the road (smart) and 2 have the audacity not to resign.

I can't wait for the debates! I can't wait to drill Harris into the stage with questions, just as Marty said , "what goes around comes around!"

Not only was Harris on the rubber stamp board to bankruptcy she's the president!

Priceless

Anonymous said...

President Leslie Harris deals with serious issues in the most superficial and flippant manner.

Fiscal/Legal
HR
Parent Complaints
Curriculum Issues
SPS Service Failures

Her Re-Election Campaign will be:

"Transparent, but Not-Accountable"

Voting No



Melissa Westbrook said...

Voting No, please give examples. I have never heard Harris make “flippant” statements nor is her manner (except for referencing her lasagna).

Anonymous said...

@Melissa Westbrook

Watch a few SPS School Board Meetings on YouTube.

Form your own opinions.

Voting No

Melissa Westbrook said...

Voting No, you are telling me to watch Board meetings? I’m usually at them. If you can’t offer anything concrete, then it’s a limited optinion.

Anonymous said...

I have watched every board meeting since Harris has been president of the board.

She is snarky at some point in every meeting. My favorite snarky moment is when she starts to lean over to the point where she is almost lying down on the dais.

I'm not saying it's bad, but it does happen.

It's all theater folks.

--Rubberstamp Board

Anonymous said...

@MW is there any change you could put your ego away for awhile? You know you don't have to interject yourself into every conversation on this blog, right?


--Rubberstamp Board

Anonymous said...

One last thing,

Every single current board member is a registered Democrat.

Makes you think, right


--Rubberstamp Board

Anonymous said...

@RubberstampBoard, you do realize that this IS Melissa's blog, right? She can be and write whatever she wants on it, she runs it. No one else has any obligation to look at it, including you. I am amazed how many critics of this blog continue to read it diligently. By now you have a strong idea of what the blog is and what Melissa's style is. Why do you spend your time reading this if you don't care for her or the writing? Anyone can create a blog and cultivate readers, this one doesn't have to suit everyone. It is what it is.
BeKind

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rubberstamp Board, Voting No directly asked me a question. That's why I answered. It helps to actually read before you comment.

Board members can be any party they want; it's a non-partisan office.

Anonymous said...

Yes I understand it's non-partisan, but all of the members are Democrats. They also seem to push the fact that they are Democrats. Most candidates that do not declare themselves as a Democrat will not receive any endorsements by most of the groups that attempt to control the school board elections including this blog.

Ah the title of this blog is not "Melissa's blog" it's "Seattle Schools Community Forum " so I'm I not a member of the community? Can't I have an opinion ? If you don't want community comments then simply turn of comments, right?

My understanding that there are several contributors to this board and that Melissa did not create the this blog, right? Yes she seems to now be the only one posting and deleting comments, but if I really would follow your advice which it's possible I will then I will move on. Hey maybe I should create my own blog and go head to head that might be fun.

--Rubberstamp Board

Anonymous said...

@Rubberstamp

Yes, please please please. Please go and start your own blog. That would be a much better use of your and our time. You could even put ads on it and earn some money. Please please please go do that now.

Blogs Away

Anonymous said...

@Unknown,

Y'know, until you brought up race, it wasn't an issue here on this thread.

Serious question: If I complain about Maria Goodloe Johnson's [RIP] tenure here in SPS, if I remind people of her improprieties, the shady underlings she brought to SPS, her destructive comments and lies (she lied directly to my face), and her eventual shamed exit from SPS, am I a racist just because she was black? Or might it just be that she was ill-equipped to be the leader of Seattle Public Schools?

If I claim that Obama was the best president we've had in the past few decades (at least), am I racist for supporting him just because he's black? Or might it be that he simply did a great job?

Sometimes comments are what they are without reading race into them.

- biracial.

Anonymous said...

Eric Blumhagen and Lisa Rivera Smith got sole endorsements from the 36th District Democrats last night. (They don't endorse in other school board races until the fall.)

Night Owl

Anonymous said...

I would not trust a single candidate seeking political endorsements for a non partisan position. The fact that there are so many Democrat groups soliciting candidates is telling, why are they so desperate to control the narrative?. Union control is in full play when it comes to school board elections and we have seen most of the union backed candidates completely rollover and not keep any of their campaign promises once elected.

Our current board has rubber stamped this district into financial ruin, shall we count the ways?

--Rubberstamp Board

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rubberstamp Board, you are wrong. Or, if not, explain how it is the Board and the Board alone that have gotten this district to this point.

Again, it's the Legislature. And the district itself. The Board certainly has a role to play but to assign it sole blame is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Wait, first you make an authoritarian claim that I'm wrong then throw in a "if not", really? Ok then.

For one thing the board approves the budget and should have known of the approaching budget shortcomings and taken action. The so called "reserves" were eaten-up by a wage increase that the district could not afford yet still the board approved the raises.

Second the board should have implemented a spending freeze years ago when it was known that political games were afoot and the outcome would mean a loss of funding.

Throwing the district into chaos for political posturing was reckless.

--Rubberstamp Board

Melissa Westbrook said...

Folks, I have said it over and over - no name calling allowed. Not parents, not teachers and certainly not students. And, this is my blog that I work very hard at. Disagree with me all you want but you won't be allowed to call me names (especially not ones that need evidence).

Some people just don't get it because they appear to be less-than-mature and believe name-calling works. It generally doesn't and certainly not in running for office. I'd find it hard to believe anyone would want a school board director who sits on a dais and calls people names.

We'll end this discussion here for now.