Seattle City Council Race District 3 - A Firm No on Zachary DeWolf

I don't normally jump into City Council races except on issues of public education.  But when a sitting Board director decides to jump ship for a City Council position, it'sa good idea for voters to consider a candidate's current performance as an elected official.  Which brings me to Zachary DeWolf.

As some may know, Director DeWolf was not my first choice when he was ran for school board.  I had met with him - twice - to see what he knew and learn his reasons for running.  I had come away seeing that, while he has a good heart and is he is an eager learner, I believed he would be in way over his head on the Board.  But, as it turned out, he cleared the primary along with another candidate who was a charter school supporter and I threw my support to DeWolf.  Repeatedly, on this blog and in social media.

He did end up winning.  But sadly, he has been a disappointment for a couple of simple reasons and this is why I urge voters in District 3 to vote for other candidates in the race.
1) Meeting attendance. From my vantage point of someone who has attended Board meetings, committee meetings and Work Sessions for more than a decade, he seems to have missed more of those meetings than most directors.  The Board meetings are where the legislative work is done - the voting as well as listening to constituents.  The committee meetings and Work Sessions are where the sausage gets made and policies hashed out.  Reading minutes is not the same as being there.  He not only missed meetings; he also left some meetings early.

Most damning of all, when the K-12 Science adoption was introduced, he missed the Board meeting.  He explained at the next Board meeting why he had missed two Board meetings (he missed another previous Board meeting as well), saying his grandmother was gravely ill and he had gone to be with her.

That is absolutely understandable and the right thing to do.

Except at the Board meeting for the Science adoption introduction, he WAS back in town.  Did he come to the meeting that he was duty-bound to be at?  He did not.  Instead, he went to a campaign event at the Labor Council.

Completely the wrong thing to do if you truly care about doing your current elected job well.

2) Constituents.  By my count he has had only two constituent meetings in two years.  Every other director, on this board and past boards, had at least one a month.  Visiting schools is not the same.  Going to school events or PTA meetings is not the same.  The ability for those in his district, as well as all the other parents in the district, to come to him, in an open forum with no agenda and express concerns is vital. And yet, he just couldn't be bothered.

He touts making one Work Session "off-site" like that's a big deal.  It isn't because the public cannot interact - at all - with directors during a Work Session.  I was there and there was not a crowd.

3) Responsibilities as a Director.  The recent K-12 Science adoption was a good example of seeing how Director DeWolf thinks.  He, along with his mentor, Jill Geary, both spoke passionately about teachers and "trusting them."  Honoring the work of those who are on the front lines is important as well as having the compassion and understanding about dealing with the very real lives of children. 

However, the real duty of a Board director is to create policies, enforce policies and watch the costs to taxpayers.  At the Board meeting when the Science adoption took place, DeWolf seemed to choose to completely ignore the work that Director Eden Mack, Director Rick Burke and Director Scott Pinkham had done to illuminate these costs.  That was deeply troubling. 

All of these issues are the exact same ones he would face on the City Council.  If he's not able to sufficiently carry out the duties of a Board director that he currently has, then the 10x larger job of City Council will completely elude him.

What he is good at is managing to talk on any district subject and then somehow bringing the discussion around to himself and his life experiences.  

What he is good at is making sure to be at any district photo opp.

Again, he's a decent person but he's also an opportunist who appears to be willing to forego responsibility that he asked for.  He has not explained to parents/students/teachers/staff why he is taking this step and frankly, he does owe an explanation.  (Interestingly, Jill Geary never explained why she took the step of trying to get an newly-opened seat in the Legislature.)

If you live in District 3 or have friends/family/co-workers, urge them to consider the other choices.  I went to one forum and frankly, I thought all the women in the race - Ami Nguyen, Pat Murakami and Kshama Sawant - were the best candidates in comparison to the men in the race.


Anonymous said…
I couldn't agree more. NO on DeWolf.

Pat Murakami came to my house campaigning and spent a good half hour talking with the neighbors and me, asking for our concerns. I like her "pragmatic progressive" approach.

For what it's worth, one "wish list" item that we voiced was ORCA passes for middle school students.

Getting Tired said…
Agree. The last straw was when DeWolf missed a board meeting to attend a campaign event at the Labor Council on May 15th.

It is possible that we could see 6 new directors in January. So much for DeWolf's commitment to his constituents and Seattle's 53,000 students.
Anonymous said…
Who cares what WESTELLO the shill thinks. Trying to manipulate another election are ya.

Anonymous said…
OMG how could anyone be in over their head on the school board? Here's a RFP, stamp it. Here's 5 million down the toilet, stamp it. The school board does nothing meaning full.

You had better not do that again, oh you did it again, you better not do that again and this time I mean it, oh you did it again, stamp it. Yep you all were fooled 3 time...again!

Rubberstamp board
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
WW3, that's fine if you don't care what I think. But my opinion is backed by facts and experience. "Manipulate another election?" Doing the research and printing my opinion is the lightest form of manipulation there is. Apparently you didn't hear what happened in the last presidential election.

Getting Tired, good point. He ran to serve this post and if he's saying he can do it better on City Council, he could fulfill this service and THEN run. Or, as I have said previously, he should step down from the Board.

I'll be interested to see who the Times endorses because if it's DeWolf, then they are hypocrites. They got in a snit over Patu's timing to step down and if they don't like that, they should not have any praise for someone who doesn't do the job well that they are already elected to AND wants to leave early for another elected job.
Anonymous said…
FNH-my 6th grader got an ORCA card from the school-I thought it was district wide. -TeacherMom
Tyler said…
Thanks for sharing this perspective, I had no idea about DeWolf's lack of commitment on the board! That said, do not support Pat Murakami! She's racist as heck. She's endorsed by Safe Seattle, the local far-right wing hate group. When questioned about her ties to SOS Seattle (an affiliate of Safe), she told Capitol Hill blog:
"Some people engage in identity politics and do not look at the bigger picture of what they are going to do. People of color have turned their back on their community and not done anything to empower or better that community."

The hallmark of her political career was opposing the non-profit Latinx worker advocacy group Casa Latina, trying to "Make Mount Baker White Again!" by stalking and harassing the executive director and spreading classic lies of brown people bringing crime to neighborhoods. She'd fit right in with the architects of redlining.

"I was the Executive Director of Casa Latina at that time. While many neighbors had concerns about our move into the Rainier Valley, most were willing to listen to us. But Murakami was different. She was convinced that Casa Latina’s move to the neighborhood would increase crime, be a danger to children and elders, and would result in public drunkenness. Even though we assured her that our program model would not create a sidewalk day laborer presence, and that Latino immigrant workers were nothing to fear, she did not believe us.

Murakami organized neighbors to write letters opposing us to the City Council. She built her opposition on racist and classist fears about Latino immigrant day laborers. She criticized Casa Latina for not doing sufficient community outreach, and then followed me every place that I did outreach so that she could criticize and contradict me. When I went to visit with the principal of a nearby elementary school, she was there. When I went to visit with the congregation of a neighboring Black church, she was there. When I went to visit with an association of Black Pastors, she was there. She made it clear that her goal was to ensure that Casa Latina did not succeed in our attempt to build a center to help Latino day laborers and their families succeed.

I will never forget the community outreach meeting for Casa Latina that she organized at the Mt. Baker Community Club. It was packed, standing room only, and so explosive—people were crying, yelling, and storming out—that the Mayor of Seattle asked Casa Latina to stop doing outreach and instead agree to a mediation process with the neighbors. I agreed, and after 6 months of meetings and getting to know our programs better, most of the neighborhood leaders who previously opposed our relocation to the neighborhood had changed their minds. But not Murakami. "

She also organized and fought hard against providing safe space for unhoused people living in RVs.
Anonymous said…
Kshama Sawant is similar to DeWolf. She only shows to meetings when the cameras are there and leaves immediately. She does things for media attention, not for her constituents. The City has had to use our tax dollars to pay for her "stunts" and she is all about the publicity and visibility.

Don't let Sawant have another term!

~ SPS mom and Seattle citizen
Dewolf Dejoke said…
Dewolf has used his time on the board to voice the concerns he heard raised at the community meetings and outreach events he participated in...oh wait....
DeWolf, Nay said…
Hey, you know what DeWolf did accomplish? He changed that little boundary for those 20 students at Loyal Heights. He didn't seem to do any research about it, just heard them ask-and granted their wish. If only he would meet with his constituents. We want our wishes granted, too, but we don't live in Loyal Heights, Director DeWolf!
SPS Mom, I am not aware that Sawant has missed official meetings; which ones has she missed? Also, her recent work made sure that the Central area has a post office after the old one was being closed without plans for a new one. That's a pretty big deal.

Unknown, I didn't know that about Murakami; I have only known her past work in public ed issues but that is many years back.

Peekaboo said…
OGM , WESTELLO is a SAWANT apologist. Lets see what else the manipulator is. Where does your income come from ? You are not going to have your cake and eat it too!

Ran for school board to manipulate the seat. Did you and Burke work on that together.
Being sued by Amplify. Never came clean as promised.
Denied being WESTELLO on Seattle Times comments, then outed herself for self promotion.
Claimed to be stopping blogging about Seattle schools, we heard that one before. Still continues.

You you dare to explain yourself? Why have so many fellow blog contributors left you high and dry? Do you really live in district 2, not in your old house that's in the King county records.

It's only right and just that you explain yourself after all you seem to expect it from others all the time.

I'm not an apologist for anyone; I just reported what Sawant accomplished recently.

I'm not being sued by anyone.

One thing I've learned about user names is that you may think you invented one that no one else has and yet, someone does. There are other Westellos out there so to say I'm the one at the Times is wrong. I generally sign my real name there as I do here.

I'm ending covering SPS on June 30th. I will cover the Board races or any other breaking SPS story of great importance but the day-to-day? Nah.

The other people who used to/sometimes blog here haven't left me. Some of moved and others are not as involved. Charlie and I still keep in touch.

Where I live is not your business.

Move on. The topic is DeWolf and the District 3 City Council race. Any further comments will be deleted.
D3 Resident said…
Perhaps readers can take a look at D3 candidate Logan Bowers.

He has a mix of corporate scale engineering and small business owner experience. I appreciate his sensible stances on housing the unsheltered and building density in our city, one triplex at a time. A quick way to learn more is to read this candidate questionnaire.

(Copied from the 43rd District Dems submitted endorsement questionnaires.)

Here is one of his answers on what social justice issue is important to you: "I am particularly sensitive to the systemic bias in the housing supply that causes people of color and low income people to live in disproportionately polluted areas. By re-legalizing new housing in all neighborhoods, including wealthier ones, we can open up opportunities for everyone to live in low pollution areas."

D3 resident
Watching said…
I watched Zachary DeWolf debate other city council candidates. The moderator asked if candidates supported the controversial Head Tax. DeWolf completely skirted the issue. He did not answer with a simple yes or no. Instead, he said something to the effect of..."Business needs to do more to support our homeless neighbors."

DeWolf likes to say that leaders make the tough decisions. Now is the time to tell the community whether he would have made the tough decision to vote in favor, or against, the Head Tax.
Anonymous said…
Thank you, Melissa. My sentiments exactly on DeWolf. He has been in this elected role for what, two years? Isn't even doing all that well be many accounts, and is jumping ship to further his political ambitions. All hat and no cattle.

Concerned Parent

Anonymous said…
So DeWolf is doing a Geary.

They both seem a little Kooky to me.

Anonymous said…
Once again - thank you, Melissa, for your perspective.

-Let’s Talk
Anonymous said…
Melissa: I have appreciated your perspective and fact finding on this blog. Do you know if any local folks will be taking your place to cover the day to day machinations of SPS? It seems our local newspaper isn't doing its job as public accountability/watchdog on budget, operations and policy. Thanks for letting us know if anyone will be doing what you've done. And thank you!

Concerned parent
Anonymous said…
I don't understand why someone would want to be on a school board. They just don't seem to be effective nor do they ever seem to push the superintendent to effect real change in the behavior of staff. Why is that?

It's time to be progressive and make changes to how the district runs. Why can't the citizens vote in a superintendent? Why can't the principles runs the schools without central admin meddling?

Voting in or out board members will never lead to real positive improvements because the board system was designed to block real change and leave the power in the hands of unions.

On top of all that you have the current manipulation of board seats by board members and activist reaffirming the weakness of a school board oversight process.

seattle citizen said…
Thanks, Melissa, for your years of commitment.

Peekaboo - find something peaceful to do to ease that anger. You sound like you're ready to explode.
Anonymous said…
I can't imagine why anyone without children attending SPS would bother to care unless there is money involved.

Anonymous said…
@2cents, what a selfish and pessimistic view. Sad.

BTW, there IS money involved. Our tax dollars. Whether or not we have children in SPS.


Anonymous said…
And just how do you suppose a board member could possibly control tax dollar spending? They can't unless you can get at lest 4 onboard which when it comes to controlling spending the current board says yes to everything and claims all problems on a funding issue not a spending issue and wants more tax dollars to fix them. So ONE BILLION per year is not enough? OK how much is enough and why should the average tax payer with child support crazy tax hikes and crazy spending that doesn't equate to a better outcome for their child? These expensive social focused programs are not working and will never work to solve social issues. School is meant to teach reading , writing and arithmetic...period. Everything else is frosting on the cake. As the saying goes , you can lead a horse to water but without indoctrination you can't make him/her a socialist.

Stop funding socialist indoctrination and magically these schools will have plenty of money to pay for good teachers and chemistry sets and roofs that don't leak.

2Cents, well then, go to it. Complain all you want but what you are asking would take the Legislature to get involved. And again, ANYONE can weigh in on candidates. Go head.

Lastly, every single taxpayer has a right to care about public education. It's not only tax dollars at work but the future of things like Social Security payments. Even if you only care about your own Social Security, that's reason enough to make sure the kids of today are well-educated.

"School is meant to teach reading , writing and arithmetic...period."

In your opinion, which I'm not sure all parents would agree with.

"As the saying goes , you can lead a horse to water but without indoctrination you can't make him/her a socialist."

Actually, that's not how it goes but again, in your opinion.
Anonymous said…
Don't conflate SS with publicly funded education, they are not related. I don't think the majority of parents believe it's the job of public schools to socialize their children or to tell them another child's ancestors plight is more important than there's.

We don't need anymore studies to prove the socialist agenda in education has failed most of it's students and has done worst to those groups of students that are the targets of the progressive's failed projects. For example, we should not be taxing all races in order to provide segregated services then start diverting those funds anyway from education.

Yes you're right all these are just other people's opinions. Lots of those people are going to start voting with their feet and many of those same people will simply turn their backs on public schools.


Ed said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ed said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
If you don't have a well-educated populace, you will not have a strong economy. Period.

I ask that we stay on topic.
joanna said…
Melissa, thank you for your perspective and for sharing.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Ah MW endorsed Zachary DeWolf and Gill Geary. ubbabbbabbbabb so you can see what she wants.

Crystal clear
Anonymous said…
She also didn't think she had the right stuff and withdrew from the election, good move.

Crystal clear
Anonymous said…
I don't think Sawant has been particularly involved in the Central District post office closure issue.

Concern and protests came from local neighbors. According to the Capitol Hill blog "Sawant’s involvement in pushing for a new post office in her district comes at a time when she faces an election contest amid criticism that she pays more attention to issues outside of District 3 than those inside it. Sawant was the only candidate in the large field to make an appearance at the meeting, but she left early to attend another event."

Caphill Parent
Vote NO said…
When Zachary DeWolf ran for school board in 2017 I supported him, both hoping for the best, and particularly because his opponent ran on the most openly pro-charter platform I have yet seen, which I and many other Seattle public education advocates recognized as a dangerous development for our schools. Even though DeWolf ran as a passionate advocate for public schools, saying he would be present in the community, he has not delivered on that promise as a member of the school board.
As a board member, he has very little to show for his very short year and a half in office, along with what can only be described as a clear pattern of absenteeism on the board. Recently he missed crucial meetings about the adoption of a controversial K-12 science curriculum and during the board discussion. He has had only two community meetings since joining the board (fewer than any other board member). Also, Washington Middle School, which is in his district, has had recurring management problems with a divisive principal ultimately resigning. DeWolf was AWOL on this, and simply lacks commitment required of a board member. I suspect DeWolf is merely using the school board as a stepping-stone. This is not just my view, but shared by many other public education advocates in Seattle. Below is a statement from Melissa Westbrook who maintains the Seattle Schools Community Forum blog:
Seattle City Council Race District 3 - A Firm No on Zachary DeWolf
DeWolf is not articulating why he is campaigning for Seattle City Council and I find it difficult to determine what he stands for, beyond committing to "listen" (as he previously vowed to parents and students). Meanwhile corporate PACs are lining up to try to push the council to the right, hoping to elect more corporate politicians who will follow Mayor Durkan's lead instead of Councilmember Sawant's. DeWolf is certainly that, and in fact has regularly praised Durkan at candidate forums and in social media, while using approved Chamber language about how we need to bring "everyone" to the table instead of Sawant's approach of unapologetically fighting for working people and building movements that have led to so many victories for Seattle, from the $15 minimum wage to major renters' rights wins like the Move-In-Fee law. If DeWolf were truly supporting a "people's agenda" he would not be undermining Sawant.
In the decision that Seattle District 3 voters face between either one of the most powerful progressives Seattle has ever seen, Councilmember Sawant, or an absentee school board member and potential Durkan puppet, I believe the choice is clear. Councilmember Sawant serves in the interest of working people in Seattle. DeWolf has shown that he neither keeps his promises nor serves in the interest of the public good.

Sally Soriano
Former Seattle School Board Member
Anonymous said…
Another Sawant apologist. Sawant is done and your logic is goofy.

Think again
Elsa said…

Well said.
Reprinting for Anonymous (no anonymous comments please, give yourself any name):
"So Melissa, what would you like in a school board member?"

What I would like (but rarely happens) is a person who is consistent on what they will do when in office. So many candidates say they will run and "hold people accountable" but, when they get into office don't.

I certainly understand that once you do get there, you see things now from the inside out. I'm sure it does mold your viewpoint. I do believe in uplifting people you work with and being civil.

But too many Board members do NOT hold people's feet to the fire.

I also want someone who is committed to staying in the job. DeWolf and Geary both proved they wanted the next big thing. (Patu doesn't count because she's been in it for 10+ years and I don't blame her exhaustion.)

I want someone who has done some homework on the district. The learning curve is huge and to find out people don't know the numbers for enrollment and budgets is depressing.

Caphill Parent, was DeWolf there? Has he been publicizing the post office issue? No, Sawant has.

This is just simple reporting. Do I like everything Sawant does? Nope but at least she gets things done.

Anonymous said…
I think the many things Sawant has said or done on the negative side greatly outweighs her post office speak. Sawant is a self identified socialist and is closer aligned to communism than socialism. She thinks she is a robin hood but is more like a robber from the hood who btw is not poor and not under educated. It's a ruse she's been running and as her district gentrifies she will lose her control and her seat.

Considering her background she should feel lucky just to live in this great country and in Seattle. These activist all seem to come through the same path ending up in a so called repressed district where they run for an office as a community organizer (yuck).


Anonymous said…
OK MW since you have connections to many current and past school board members why don't you ask each of them why they are not or did not demand accountability?

I think you have been very negative about the board attempting micro managing the district. Micro managing this district as part time members would be difficult, but micro managing selective issues would not be.

The board should make it clear to the superintendent that each board member has the power to direct any district employee within reason to make changes needed to correct a problem, especially if the problem is occurring in the directors own district. If it takes four board member to agree to the action so be it, let the debates happen quickly.

I don't believe SPS needs 7 school board members 5 is more than enough for a medium size district like SPS. 7 just make the whole process slower and contentious.

2Cents, when did I ever say anyone was micro-managing? You have me mistaken for the Times. I have spoken about OTHERS talking about the Board micro-managing.

Why don't I go and ask all the board members for the last 20 years that I have been active why they may or may not demand accountability? To what end? And who has the time for that? You can go do that.

No, the Board CANNOT tell the Superintendent that they can manage any staff. That is not how it works. The only staff member they direct is the Superintendent. You would never get a good superintendent if he/she knew the Board would try this.

Anonymous said…
How is it possible for the superintendent to deal with 100 school blds and thousands of employees? It's not , so what happens when there are issues? Lawsuits, students leave the district for private schools ect. I can go thought the 100s of such scenarios that have happened just in the past 6 years and there are many more than that.

So we disagree, I think change is needed and it starts with the people who are voted in and not those who are not accountable to the people and only to the unions.

The old seven member dog and pony show need to end and we need quick corrective action away from the dais. Until then, same old same old.


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