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November 8, 2011 at 9:19 PM

Seattle School Board President Sundquist is trailing

Seattle School Board President Steve Sundquist trailed his challenger, Marty McLaren, by a slim margin in early returns, but voters appeared willing to retain a majority of the Seattle School Board in what was seen as a referendum on their management of a scandal.

Three incumbents — Harium Martin-Morris, Peter Maier, Sherry Carr — led their challengers by varying margins.

Only Martin-Morris appeared headed to an easy win, with a 61-39 margin. Maier led challenger Sharon Peaslee by 4 points, and Carr led challenger Kate Martin by a 55-45 margin.

The incumbents all had strong support from the business community and large fundraising advantages, but only one of them, Maier, took a majority in the August primary amidst an upswelling of frustration by parents.

Looming over the election was the financial scandal that rocked the district in February, after a state audit showed its regional small-business contracting program awarded $1.8 million in contracts with questionable or no public benefit. The scandal led to the firing of Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, and criminal charges against the program’s director, Silas Potter Jr. On Tuesday, police issued an arrest warrant for Potter when he skipped his arraignment.

Maier, an attorney who attended Seattle Public Schools, touted his long record of service to the district, including as the leader of the district’s levy campaign. Peaslee, a writer and producer, said she would focus the board on prioritizing funding the classroom over the central administration

Carr, a senior manager at Boeing, said she would be the right person to build on the district’s successes of the past four years, including a new neighborhood-based school assignment plan and a new teachers contract.

Martin, an independent design consultant, pledged to fight against standardization of curriculum across schools.

Martin-Morris, a software-development manager, asked for another term based on his record of independent decision-making, including unsuccessful but popular “no” votes on school closures and math textbook adoption.

Buetow, a marketing consultant, said she would bring a spirit of customer service to the district and work to improve its reputation.

Sundquist, a retired business executive and the board president, focused him campaign on his experience and connections to the business and government community.

McLaren, a retired teacher who was powered by historically strong support from the Seattle teachers union, pledged to make the board better understand how its decisions impact teachers and students on a classroom level.

 

Comments | More in Government | Topics: Election 2011, Seattle, Seattle School Board

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