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Originally published October 25, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 25, 2007 at 8:16 PM

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Editor's note: With a majority of seats on the Seattle School Board up for election next month, education reporter Emily Heffter will file regular updates about the races.

Election 2007

Seattle Medium endorses in only two races

The Seattle Medium community newspaper made it clear this week how District 2 incumbent Darlene Flynn lost its support.

Seattle Times education reporter

Read. React. Respond.

Have a question for Emily? A comment about a post? Is there a topic that she should explore? Send her a note

POSTED 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 — The Seattle Medium community newspaper made it clear this week how District 2 incumbent Darlene Flynn lost its support.

The newspaper didn't endorse either candidate in districts 2 and 3, and in District 2 it wrote: "The Incumbent, Darlene Flynn, voted to close MLK Elementary School and has done very little to earn the support of our community, or advance the cause of Black children."

Flynn was part of the board majority that voted last summer to close seven school buildings, including Martin Luther King Elementary in the Central Area. Many members of the African-American community — including the publishers of the Medium — felt that the district set up MLK for closure by shrinking its reference area and withholding attractive programs from the school.

The newspaper's comment is one of the few times school closures have become an issue in this year's campaigns. Since almost all of the candidates for election support the closures and even say they would support more, most debates haven't focused on school closures.

Hordes of angry parents flooded community meetings before last year's vote, threatening not to re-elect School Board members who supported school closures.

The paper also declined to endorse the only other black candidate running, Harium Martin-Morris in District 3. Martin-Morris told me in an interview in September that he wasn't seeking support from traditional African-American community groups because he wanted to support all communities.

The Medium endorsed incumbent Sally Soriano in District 1 and Maria Ramirez in District 6. The endorsements can be found here: seattlemedium.com/news/Article/Article.asp?NewsID=83279&sID=4&ItemSource=L

Forum shows candidates' opinions of the arts

POSTED 11: 35 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 — Last week's forum about arts education is online at the Seattle Channel's Web site. I didn't attend but watched the recording.

At the beginning, the candidates discussed their own experiences in arts education. Harium Martin-Morris talked about his history as a competitive ballroom dancer, Darlene Flynn said she sings and plays folk music on the guitar and relayed a funny story about losing her clarinet on purpose so she could play the saxophone. Maria Ramirez said she was forced to play the accordian in the fourth grade, and Peter Maier said he quit the baritone horn after his band teacher told him he sounded "worse than a sick duck."

About 51 minutes in, incumbent Darlene Flynn corrected the moderator's characterization of her campaign literature, which refers to education for "all students." She argued that she was including arts education in that phrase.

Her tone was one she often uses when she disagrees with someone, or when she's trying to make a point — and it's become an issue in her re-election campaign. Her supporters say she is clear and passionate; critics say she is too harsh.

Here's a link to the forum online: www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=5550714

The forum was at the Seattle Children's Theatre and was put on by the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and the Seattle Arts Commission.

Ramirez sets record straight on February votes

POSTED 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 — We're running a correction in tomorrow's paper about a mistake I made in my Oct. 11 story about the District 6 candidates.

In the story, I wrote that Maria Ramirez filled in the "no" bubbles on her February ballot — intending to vote against the school district's two funding measures. Actually, Ramirez supported the operating levy, which makes up about 25 percent of the district's budget. She opposed the bond because of concerns about which projects made the list.

Her votes did not count because she didn't mail her ballot.

The mistake stems from a misunderstanding in my interview of Ramirez. I noticed in King County records that she didn't vote in the February election. When I asked her what she marked on her ballot before deciding not to mail it, she told me she voted "no." I thought she meant on both issues. She was only talking about the bond.

Since I reported that Ramirez didn't vote in the election, it's become a significant issue in the District 6 race. The Seattle Times editorial board wrote that it even played into their decision to endorse Ramirez' opponent, Steve Sundquist. Sundquist brought it up at a televised candidate forum Oct. 11.

"That's 25 percent of our district's budget, and we clearly disagree about that," he said.

Ramirez said she regrets not mailing her ballot. The fact that her opponent has made such an issue of it strikes her as "desperate," she said.

"I feel like it's not a productive use of our time," she said. "I think we need to focus on the next bond."

Blomstrom talks of "corrupt" system

POSTED 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 — Candidate David Blomstrom answered questions along with his opponent in District 3, Harium Martin-Morris, on KUOW today. Since we've so seldom heard from Blomstrom during this campaign, I want to summarize what he said on the program.

His appearance on the program — by phone — was absent any of the name-calling and ranting that characterize his Web site (he refers to his opponent as "Whorium") and he gave thoughtful answers to questions from the host and callers.

Blomstrom's stated reason for running for School Board is to bring attention to what he calls the "Seattle Mafia" — sinister corporations and community leaders he believes have corrupted the school system. That's most of what he addressed during the show, saying closing schools was "a sham" and that corporations have virtually privatized public schools. He opposes the Washington Assessment of Student Learning and said it isn't fair that public-school students have to take it while private-school students don't. And he said corruption taints school levies because school officials "play so many games" about what happens to the money.

"Giving money to the school district is one thing," he said, "but I want to make sure that money is not lost or embezzled."

Absent from the trail, candidate turns to airwaves

POSTED 9:55 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 — District 3 candidate David Blomstrom has indicated he plans to be on KUOW's afternoon show, The Conversation, today.

Blomstrom has rarely shown up for candidate forums and doesn't do interviews with most media (including The Seattle Times), so this is a rare chance to hear what he has to say. His opponent, Harium Martin-Morris, is also scheduled to be on the show along with District 2 incumbent Darlene Flynn and challenger Sherry Carr.

The conversation is from 1-3 p.m. on 94.9 FM. You can also listen to the program online while it's on the air or later on the station's Web site, www.kuow.org/programs/theconversation.asp.

Blog: Middle class missing from campaigns

POSTED 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23 — An anonymous writer put something on the table on a Seattle Public Schools parent blog this morning that I think is a common issue. In a comment on saveseattleschools.blogspot.com, this person responded to School Board candidates' touting their experience with low-income, underserved and underperforming students:

"My issue is that my children, like many others in this district, are not low income or under served ... I want someone on the board who will look at all students, and try to find out how to better serve every student in this district."

Media coverage and forum questions in this election season have focused in large part on how candidates will raise achievement of underserved students. In an age of standardized tests and impending state graduation requirements, it's obviously one of the biggest issues candidates will face on the board.

But I wonder whether this parent is getting at something a lot of middle-class parents are feeling: that the School Board candidates aren't speaking to the issues they are facing.

Here's a link to the blog. The comment I'm referring to is the ninth in the list: www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=28765366&postID=4865918087784472802

Fundraising gap widens among candidates

POSTED 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23 — Big contributions from Microsoft executives and two venture capitalists pushed District 2 candidate Sherry Carr's fundraising over the $100,000 mark this week. She has raised $115,000. Many of the same people also donated to District 6 candidate Steve Sundquist, who was close behind with about $85,000 .

District 1 candidate Peter Maier still has raised the most: more than $130,000 as of Monday's filing.

Carr's opponent, incumbent Darlene Flynn, reported about $12,500. Sundquist's opponent, Maria Ramirez, has just over $14,000. Maier's opponent, incumbent Sally Soriano, has $11,036.

Soriano said the fundraising difference doesn't worry her and shows that her campaign is more "grassroots."

"I have a track record of being on the side of democracy," she said.

Until now, the fundraising has been little more than symbolic of candidates' support. But with two weeks to go until the election, it should become obvious who has more cash as candidates start spending on mailings, phone calls and other last-minute campaigning.

Soriano said that postage alone costs about $12,000 for a citywide mailing. She can only afford one, so she's relying on volunteer-heavy efforts like yard signs and waving signs at busy intersections, she said.

Very good? Do you mean very, very, very good?

POSTED 4:50 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22 — The Municipal League of King County rates local candidates' "potential to be effective in office and ability to serve the community." They rank them from "not qualified" to "outstanding" based on effectiveness, involvement, knowledge and character.

In District 6, Maria Ramirez has faced some criticism for printing on fliers that she is "highest rated" by the league. She's rated "very good" — the second-highest rating the league offers. Her opponent, Steve Sundquist, is also rated "very good." Her campaign's position is that she's highest rated in her race, because Sundquist wasn't rated higher than she.

The only candidates for School Board who received the highest possible rating, "outstanding," are Peter Maier (District 1) and Sherry Carr (District 2).

"She's not running against Peter Maier or Sherry Carr, she's running against Steve Sundquist," said Cindi Laws, a consultant working for Ramirez. "That's a term that all campaigns use with this kind of a thing."

Sundquist didn't. His literature and Web site just say that he was rated "very good."

Laws said Seattle City Council candidates Bruce Harrell and Venus Velázquez are using "top-rated" to describe their ratings — both were rated "very good" by the Municipal League. I couldn't find that language on either candidate's Web site, though.

The league rated Darlene Flynn (District 1) and Harium Martin-Morris (District 3) "very good," Sally Soriano (District 1) "good," and David Blomstrom (District 3) "not qualified."

You can read the candidates' questionaires, which were used to determine the ratings, at the Municipal League's Web site, here: www.munileague.org/cec/2007/report/SeattleSD1.htm.

School Board slate? Not this year

POSTED 9:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22 — Local education leaders who organized a last-minute political action committee to support three School Board candidates in 2005 now say that strategy was a mistake, and they won't do it again.

Former School Board member Barbara Schaad-Lamphere and former education-committee chairman John Warner both said the PAC, in hindsight, was a bad idea. They started too late, had too little money to make a real impact and the candidates didn't really even want to be part of a slate, they said.

The group spent about $10,000 in the last few weeks of the 2005 campaign to support Michael DeBell, Jane Fellner and Linda Thompson-Black. DeBell was the only one of the three who won.

This year, there is no PAC and no formal slate, but some people refer to a de facto slate of newcomers: Peter Maier in District 1, Sherry Carr in District 2, Harium Martin-Morris in District 3, and Steve Sundquist in District 6.

The four share many — but not all — of the same supporters and endorsements.

Watch the candidates at seattletimes.com

UPDATED 11:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 22 — We asked high-school students what they wanted to know from the School Board candidates, and they had plenty to say: What are the candidates bringing to the table? What will each do to ensure no child is left behind? How can the district recruit more minority teachers?

We videotaped the students asking their questions, selected the five best, and played them for the School Board candidates. They answered on camera. You can watch it all online at seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2003951955_schoolboardq0322.html

It's a perfect chance to see the candidates in action, answering questions from some of the people with the most at stake in November's election.

A voter's guide for 20- and 30-somethings

POSTED 9:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 19 — Seattle Works has released a general election guide for generations X and Y, and all but a few School Board candidates answered their extensive list of questions.

I've already written about the candidates' favorite bands. In the new edition, District 6 candidate Steve Sundquist reveals that he listens to "smooth jazz" and District 1 candidate Peter Maier reveals familiarity with a local rapper (Grynch).

But the candidates also answered more substantive questions at length. Among the most interesting were their answers to a question about improving the board's effectiveness amid "often challenging dynamics."

While the other candidates say, in so many words, that the board needs to learn to work together better, District 2 incumbent Darlene Flynn writes: "Given the challenging dynamics of the Seattle School District and relentless micro-examination by the press, this Board could teach a seminar on effectiveness in challenging situations (really)."

Read the whole voters guide at www.seattleworks.orgunder "influence."

"Kooky hippie," "jerk," "smarty pants" and more: All in a day's endorsements at The Stranger

POSTED 3:05 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 — Don't miss The Stranger's candidate endorsements here: www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=418929

Like the P-I, The Stranger passed over District 2 challenger and PTSA leader Sherry Carr to endorse incumbent Darlene Flynn. You can read their reasoning for yourself; I can't get some of The Stranger's language past my editors.

But like the P-I, they didn't endorse the other incumbent, Sally Soriano, in District 1. The Stranger called her a "kooky hippie," which is nicer than the word they used to describe Flynn.

And they endorsed Steve Sundquist in District 6. In their primary endorsement, they said he "looked like a jerk," but this time they said the board needed a straitlaced, business type like him. Their opinion of his opponent, Maria Ramirez, has apparently also improved since the primary. They wrote in August that she "seemed like she'd been overserved." This time they called her "savvy and organized," though not as good a candidate as Sundquist.

Are candidates saving for a big splash?

POSTED 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 — Reports filed this week show that several candidates have saved much of their money to spend during the last few weeks of the campaign. The filings show each candidate's bottom line as of Oct. 8.

In District 1, incumbent Sally Soriano had saved 85 percent of the money she's raised, leaving her with almost $10,000 to spend before Election Day. Her opponent, Peter Maier, is the biggest fundraiser in any of the School Board races, with enthusiastic backing from the business community. He reported he still had about 75 percent of the $92,237 he had raised by Oct. 8. Since then, he's reported additional donations. In District 2, incumbent Darlene Flynn had $6,235. That's a little more than half of the total amount she had raised. Her opponent, Sherry Carr, is one of the only candidates who reported spending more than half of the total she'd fundraised. Carr reported she had $41,218 left of the $83,710 she had raised.

(The other candidate to spend most of his money is Harium Martin Morris, the District 3 candidate whose opponent, David Blomstrom, hasn't raised any money. Martin-Morris has about $11,507 in the bank — a third of his total).

In District 6, both candidates have reserved about 70 percent of their funds. Steve Sundquist had about $50,000 left; Maria Ramirez about $10,000.

With many of the forums and endorsements wrapping up this week and absentee ballots in the mail, candidates often turn to literature, direct mail and other kinds of advertisements to sway voters in a campaign's final weeks.

Sundquist to donors: Your money's no good here

POSTED 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 — Steve Sundquist refunded two campaign contributors in August.

A Sundquist spokesman said the candidate returned the donations — both from familiar names — because it was so clear that his views conflicted with theirs.

Sundquist gave $10 back to Chris Jackins, a school-closure opponent who makes it to nearly every School Board meeting and public hearing. Jackins gave a small amount of money to each of the School Board challengers before the primary election, but not the incumbents. He's given $40 to Sundquist's opponent in District 6, Maria Ramirez.

Sundquist has said he supports school closures, though he said the district should give its new superintendent at least a year to settle in.

Sundquist also returned $50 to Kathleen Brose, a parent named in the group that sued the district over its use of race in student assignment. Sundquist has been upfront about his disappointment in the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that the district's racial tiebreaker is unconstitutional.

Brose also gave $50 to newcomer candidates Sherry Carr, Harium Martin-Morris and Peter Maier. She didn't contribute to Maria Ramirez' campaign. Ramirez is the only candidate I've heard speak in favor of Brose's position. She doesn't believe the racial tiebreaker is the best tool to achieve diversity in schools.

Populist candidates no more?

POSTED 4:35 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17 — Parent activist Melissa Westbrook offered a fundraising analysis today on the blog she contributes to, http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com. She wondered if the formerly "populist" nature of School Board campaigns is being lost as candidates raise more money.

Most popular campaign expense? Consultants

POSTED 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17 — With the exception of the two incumbents, most of the candidates are spending some serious money on consulting services.

District 6 candidate Steve Sundquist has spent the most — $5,000 a month for the past five months, not counting literature design and mailing costs.

This morning, Sundquist's PR consultant sent out a press release, then called me to make sure I got it. Most of the candidates just call me directly.

His opponent, Maria Ramirez, has spent about $600 a month on consulting services.

Sherry Carr, a candidate in District 2, has paid about $1,500 a month to a consultant. Peter Maier, the challenger in District 1, didn't report any recent consulting expenditures but spend a couple thousand dollars over the summer.

The two incumbents, Sally Soriano in District 1 and Darlene Flynn in District 2, haven't spent money on consulting. In fact, neither reported any major expenditures since the summer primary. Each has a little money in the bank, so they may be saving it for a big general election mailing or something.

Maier's war chest now in the six figures

POSTED 10:52 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16 — Huge contributions continue to pour into Peter Maier's School Board campaign for Sally Soriano's North Seattle seat. Monday, he posted a $10,000 contribution from venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, a partner in Second Avenue Partners, which according to its Web site invests in promising startups.

Hanauer has a history of interest in local schools. A Seattle native and University of Washington graduate, he co-founded the League of Education Voters in 2000. He sits on the boards of the University of Washington Foundation and the Alliance for Education.

Maier also reported $10,000 in contributions from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie. I've posted in this space before about the $12,000 cellular magnate John Stanton and his wife Theresa Gillespie donated to Maier's campaign.

With Hanauer's contribution, Maier has easily topped $100,000 in donations, the most of any Seattle School Board candidate this fall. Soriano has raised far less money — about $8,000.

The candidates must post their latest contributions and expenditures reports by midnight. That will give a better picture of how much cash each candidate has left to spend with less than a month to go before Election Day.

Ramirez snags P-I support

POSTED 5:35 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15 — Maria Ramirez picked up another high-profile endorsement over the weekend when The Seattle Post-Intelligencer said her understanding of students' "real-life issues" make her the best choice for director in District 6.

Her opponent, Steve Sundquist, has raised more money than she has and got more than twice as many votes as she did in the primary. But then Ramirez got the Seattle Education Association's endorsement last month. The P-I's endorsement could be another sign that Ramirez is gaining on him.

The P-I's endorsement came out Sunday, but as of this evening, Sundquist's Web site still lists that he's endorsed by the P-I. (He and Ramirez were both recommended in the primary.)

Neighborhood candidate forums this week

UPDATED 12:10 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15 — There are still plenty of opportunities to see the School Board candidates at forums around Seattle. If you know of others, send me an e-mail with the information and I will post it.

• 6:30-8 tonight, Seattle Children's Theatre, 201 Thomas St. (at Seattle Center)

Sponsored by the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and Seattle Arts Commission's education committee. All the candidates have confirmed they'll be there, according to organizers.

The theme will be arts education.

At a pre-reception starting at 5:30 p.m., people will have the chance to meet Carri Campbell, the district's new manager of visual and performing arts.

• 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nathan Hale High School Performing Arts Center (10750 30th Ave. N.E.)

Hosted by students of Nathan Hale High School's American Government classes and Nathan Hale PTSA. Come at 6:30 p.m. for "Community and Connections," followed by moderated candidate session at 7 p.m.

• 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 23, Bryant Elementary School (3311 N.E. 60th St.)

Blomstrom surfaces to allege "blatant lie"

POSTED 9:50 a.m. Friday, Oct. 12 — David Blomstrom and I don't talk much.

The candidate for District 3 doesn't like to talk to the corporate media, so he refused an interview with me and referred me to his Web sites, which detail his theory that Seattle is run by a corrupt and powerful mafia.

On his campaign site, he's nicknamed his opponent, Harium Martin-Morris, "Whorium." From a link on his home page, it's easy to find one of his central criticisms of his opponent: that Martin-Morris' campaign focuses almost solely on school-related issues.

That's what I wrote in my story, published Thursday in The Seattle Times.

Blomstrom sent me an e-mail asking for a retraction: "I didn't accuse him of focusing on school-related issues; I very clearly accused him of having NO ISSUES."

"Your statement," his e-mail to me continued, "is an obviously blatant LIE. Please let me know when the Seattle Times prints a retraction."

He's right that his campaign home page (http://2007.seattle-mafia.org/) calls his opponent Harium "No Issues" Martin-Morris.

But he also writes: "Like most candidates, Whorium has no website, aside from his campaign website at www.harium2007.com. Apparently, he's only interested in school issues during election campaigns."

Blomstrom, on the other hand, is using his campaign to tackle issues that are important to him, including, according to his Web site, George W. Bush, the war in Iraq, Bill Gates, the economy, government spying and the U.S. Postal Service.

I think I'll stand by my original statement.

Closing time

POSTED 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — The forum is winding down and candidates are giving their closing statements.

Steve Sundquist says his focus is on raising standards and ensuring all schools are effective.

Maria Ramirez says her endorsements reflect the faith people have in her skills. She promises diversity of thought and collaboration on the board.

Harium Martin-Morris asked people to remember that he is a product of public education and that he believes in it.

Darlene Flynn said people should go to her Web site to see "the real story" about the performance of the current board. She said the system will be judged by its service to all students.

Sherry Carr said she believes the board can do better. She called this "a watershed moment" and a chance to win back the faith of the community. Her skills will help do that, she said.

Sally Soriano reminisced about campaigning with levies with her mother as a child. She said her record is of being democratic and collaborative, pushing for parents' issues.

Peter Maier said the election is about "leadership and change." He said the new superintendent needs a strong, steady and focused board.

Martin-Morris puts himself out there

POSTED 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — Since District 3 candidate Harium Martin-Morris' opponent is not present and doesn't have an active, traditional campaign, he's taking some bold stances tonight.

Already, he said the achievement gap between whites and other races "will close" if more adults get involved in classes, and that the achievement gap doesn't have anything to do with race, anyway: It's about income.

He also took a stand against one of the superintendent's favorite causes — a uniform curriculum — and declared the WASL a failed plan that shouldn't be a graduation requirement.

During the "lightning round," when candidates held up "yes" or "no" cards to answer a sequence of questions, Martin-Morris held up a "no" card when asked whether all students should take a college-preparatory curriculum.

Looking for controversy in all the wrong places

POSTED 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — The moderator, C.R. Douglas, has been working hard to pit the candidates against each other. It's not always easy, because on many of the major topics in the campaigns, the two candidates agree.

For example, Sherry Carr and Darlene Flynn agreed that a more uniform curriculum across the district is a good idea. Sally Soriano and Peter Maier both support keeping school choice but improving schools across the district.

But Douglas has lobbed a few zingers of his own. Noting Soriano's participation last year in a lawsuit against the board over school closures, he asked, "Is that any way to behave as a board member?"

Sundquist chides Ramirez for not voting

POSTED 7:10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — District 6 candidate Steve Sundquist was the first one to take a stab at his opponent.

In his opening statement, he pointed out that Maria Ramirez didn't vote in the February levy and bond election. That's something I wrote about in a story this week, after noticing that the King County elections division didn't have a record of her vote.

She told me she struggled with the content of the district's project list in its capital bond, so she marked "no" on her ballot. But she couldn't stand to vote against schools, so instead she didn't mail the ballot, thus not voting at all.

Hey, buddy, can you spare a mike?

POSTED 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — The forum has only two working microphones right now, and they're passing one around among candidates. It's not the first time the district's microphones have failed. They're often a problem during board meetings and workshops, prompting the board's president, Cheryl Chow, recently to quip that the district saves the quality equipment for the classroom.

Candidate forum off to slow start

POSTED 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — The forum was held up because there aren't enough microphones that work. A district employee ran across the street for more batteries.

Attendance at the forum was sparse earlier, anyway (one PTSA representative suggested the audience scoot in to make the auditorium "look more full").

It's starting to fill in now. Several current board members and district staff are in attendance, including board members Brita Butler-Wall and Michael DeBell and board President Cheryl Chow. Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno is here.

Tonight's candidate forum: Read about it here

POSTED 10:45 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 — I'm planning to cover tonight's all-city School Board candidate forum from 6:30 to 8:30 at the John Stanford Center, 2445 Third Ave. S.

Organizers say seven of the eight candidates vying for board positions this fall have indicated they plan to be there. David Blomstrom, who is running against Harium Martin-Morris for the District 3 seat, will not attend.

I'll post updates here, in my election notebook, during the event. It will also be broadcast on The Seattle Channel (Channel 21) and on SPS-TV (Channel 26).

C.R. Douglas of The Seattle Channel will moderate. Forum questions will include a lightning round, questions prepared by the community groups sponsoring the event, and questions solicited in writing from the audience.

It's not too late to RSVP for child-care by e-mailing Kerry Cooley-Stroum at kerry@cppsofseattle.org.

Punctuality wins points with SEA

POSTED 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 — Seattle Education Association President Wendy Kimball called me back to fill in the backstory behind the union's endorsements.

Kimball told me the SEA's endorsement of a whole new board majority doesn't reflect a bad relationship with the current board.

"The SEA leadership has an obligation to have good relationships with all of the people who supervise or run the school district," she said. "These are the people that we need to go to and make requests from, and so we need to be in an ongoing and collegial environment. It's not the leadership of the SEA who are making these (endorsement) decisions. It is the membership of SEA who are making these decisions."

The SEA endorsed early this year because of the August primary. In the District 2 race, Darlene Flynn hadn't yet decided she would run for re-election at the time the union made endorsements. So she was never interviewed by the union's "political action team," which makes recommendations to the executive committee for political endorsements. The SEA interviewed only Lisa Stuebing and Sherry Carr. Based on that, they endorsed Carr.

"Darlene Flynn did not get her paperwork in prior to the cutoff time," she said. "We had informed her what the cutoff time was going to be, and it didn't happen, and we moved forward."

Maria Ramirez didn't get her paperwork in in time for the SEA endorsement, either, but a union member made a motion to hold off endorsing in District 6 until after they had a chance to talk with her. The union did — last month — and endorsed Ramirez over her opponent, Steve Sundquist.

In the District 1 race, the political action team asked for the general membership's help in choosing a candidate. The members chose Maier.

Teachers union backs newbies for School Board

POSTED 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 — The Seattle School Board is guaranteed at least two brand-new members at the end of this year, since incumbents Brita Butler-Wall and Irene Stewart opted not to run. But the Seattle teachers union is rooting for complete turnover of the seven-member School Board's majority — again.

In 2003, the Seattle Education Association endorsed three new board members: Darlene Flynn in District 2, Brita Butler-Wall in District 3, and two newcomers (a co-endorsement), Irene Stewart and Betty Hoagland, in District 6.

They stayed out of the race between Sally Soriano and incumbent Barbara Schlag Peterson in District 1.

This year, the SEA endorsed Peter Maier, Sherry Carr, Harium Martin-Morris and Maria Ramirez — all running for their first public office. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is rooting for a new majority, too. He endorsed Maier, Carr and Martin-Morris, but appears not to have endorsed in District 6, where both candidates are new.

Social networking? Not so much, says Flynn

POSTED 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9 — All the candidates have Web sites, but Darlene Flynn is the only School Board candidate to have made a short-lived expedition into the social networking world. During the primary campaign, she set up a Myspace page. (myspace.com/darleneflynn).

"I thought it would be sort of fun," she said.

Instead, it was sort of lonely. No other candidate set up a site, and to this day, she has 1 pic, 0 friends and 0 messages. She hasn't signed insince July.

"I thought that it would be the wave of the campaign," said Flynn, "but everybody kept saying, 'Where's your Web site? Where's your Web site?'"

So she has since invested in a Web site.

Throwing a little pop culture at candidates

POSTED 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9 — In an alternative to the sometimes-repetitive voters forum format, Seattle Works and CityClub sponsored "speed candidating" recently at the Pike Brewing Co. Six of the eight School Board candidates showed up for the event, which was modeled after speed dating. Each candidate sat at a table while members of the public circulated through the bar. They had three minutes to chat before a bell rang and a new constituent took a seat.

Seattle Works, which is a networking organization for people under 40, also released a candidate's guide that asked for each candidate's favorite band and coffee shop, among other things. I don't know how that helps voters decide who would make the best School Board representative, but it is sort of a hipness spot-check. Many of the candidates didn't respond to the survey. Of those that did, here are their favorite bands:

District 2: Sherry Carr: Five for Fighting; Darlene Flynn: too many to choose from, I listen to blues, R&B, zydeco, folk...

District 6: Maria Ramirez: my son's group, REVO, a new-age band of high school students

Eastside donor throws money behind candidates

POSTED 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8 — The biggest contributors to any of the races — by far — are Bellevue cellular magnate John Stanton and his wife Theresa Gillespie. Together, they gave $12,000 to Peter Maier's campaign, $8,000 to Sherry Carr's campaign, $6,000 to Steve Sundquist's campaign, and $4,000 to Harium Martin-Morris' campaign.

There are no campaign-contribution limits in School Board races.

Stanton built Voicestream Wireless — which later became T-Mobile USA — and helped sell it for $30 billion. He also helped build McCaw Cellular Communications, which was later acquired by AT&T and became AT&T Wireless. Later he made millions by selling his company, Western Wireless, to Alltel. He also owns a part of the Seattle Mariners and used to own part of the Sonics. Most recently, he formed a venture capitalism company.

I e-mailed Stanton to ask about his interest in the race. He wrote back: "I am interested in see(ing) people that can provide strong leadership and excellent management take roles in government and in this case, I think the community would particularly benefit from talented people joining the Seattle School Board."

Stanton has long been involved in statewide politics as a Republican. The Republican Party tried to get him to run for governor in 2004, and he served on Dino Rossi's short-lived "transition team" before the 2004 governor's race was resolved.

The School Board races are non-partisan, but all the candidates accepting money from Stanton are endorsed by Democrats. Peter Maier is a longtime Democrat and has served as a precinct committee officer, and Steve Sundquist describes himself as a "lifelong Democrat" in the King County Elections voters pamphlet.

School Board challengers raise big bucks

POSTED 9: 40 a.m. Monday, Oct. 8 — The two incumbents running for re-election in this year's School Board races are way behind in fundraising.

Sally Soriano, who hopes to retain her District 1 North Seattle seat, has only about $9,000 once you subtract the $5,400 she's spent on her campaign and the $10,000 she borrowed from herself and family. Her opponent, attorney Peter Maier, has more than $68,000.

The other incumbent, Darlene Flynn, has about $3,400. Her opponent in District 2, former PTSA leader Sherry Carr, has $26,161. They are running for the North Central Seattle seat the Flynn has held for the past four years.

In the District 6 race, retired investment executive Steve Sundquist has a fundraising advantage over nonprofit manager Maria Ramirez. He has about $18,700 to her $3,600.

The campaigns are on track to be more expensive than past School Board campaigns. The District 1 race was the most expensive in 2003, when Sally Soriano raised $72,990 and beat the incumbent, Barbara Schlag Peterson, by 20,000 votes. But raising more money has not always meant victory. In the 2005 School Board races, two winners, Cheryl Chow and Mary Bass, raised less money than their opponents.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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