With Election Day on the horizon, the Seattle City Council races and ballot initiatives are undoubtedly hogging the spotlight, but let's not forget that the Seattle School Board has some equally contentious races this year. In fact, they're 100 times as interesting as the council races.
The four incumbents up for re-election—Peter Maier (District 1 - North Seattle), Sherry Carr (District 2 - Greenlake), Harium Martin-Morris (District 3 - Downtown to Wedgewood), and Steve Sundquist (District 6 - West Seattle) —will not be able to rely on the incumbency advantage (it's actually more of a liability this time out), thanks to a slew of scandals and missteps.
Tomorrow night, the Stranger is hosting a debate between the four incumbents and their challengers —Sharon Peaslee (District 1), Kate Martin (District 2), Michelle Buetow (District 3), and Marty McLaren (District 6).
All four challengers have a shot at unseating their opponents. Not only can they all boast solid endorsements, but the numbers also don't lie: at 51 percent, Peter Maier was the only incumbent that won over half of the votes in the August 16th primary. Yet even that number, in a neck-to-neck race, could dip into the loser column.
After surveying a couple candidates (incumbents and challengers), here are some of the questions they (and we) hope will be asked:
- How will the school board negotiate with the state legislature in light of chronic under-funding for schools?
- What is the vision for the school district in coming years as the 2014 drop dead date for No Child Left Behind and the Race to the Top approaches?
- How will the school board work to close the glaring achievement gap?
- What are the follow-up steps to prevent another Pottergate from happening?
- Is President Obama's education reform agenda appropriate for Seattle schools? (We're especially interested to hear Sherry Carr's thoughts on this, considering her donor record.)
The debate will be in a one-on-one format for each of the four races, followed by an audience vote via text for the winner. KIRO radio host Dave Ross will moderate, with input from Seattle Council PTSA President Lauren McGuire and Save Our Seattles blog contributor Melissa Westbrook. Reserve your free ticket here.
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