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Originally published Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 9:33 PM

3 Seattle School Board incumbents leading; President Steve Sundquist in trouble

Powered by support from the Seattle teachers union, West Seattle challenger Marty McLaren led Seattle School Board President Steve Sundquist with 51 percent of the votes in initial returns. The other incumbents appeared headed for re-election.

Seattle Times education reporter

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Three Seattle School Board members appeared headed for re-election in initial election returns, but board President Steve Sundquist was in trouble.

With about half of the expected vote counted, Sundquist trailed retired teacher Marty McLaren in the District 6 race with 48.4 percent of the vote. McLaren — powered by strong support from the Seattle teachers union — had 51 percent.

"I'm thrilled," McLaren said. "It seems like the voters have heard the message."

Sundquist said he felt the race was still too close to call.

In the other races, incumbent Peter Maier had 51.9 percent of the vote against writer and producer Sharon Peaslee in District 1 while incumbent Sherry Carr, in District 2, was leading design consultant Kate Martin with 54.7 percent.

In District 3, incumbent Harium Martin-Morris looked to be cruising to another four-year term with 60.7 percent of the vote over Michelle Buetow, a marketing consultant.

Final results of the all-mail election will be certified Nov. 29. The new School Board, composed of the four winners and three current members who were not up for re-election, is expected to be seated next month.

The incumbents, who had large fundraising advantages, swept into office four years ago with the support of a business community clamoring for a more professional board. But some community activists have accused them of being too civil — overly trusting of district staff and willing to ignore dissenting information.

While the challengers were not running as a slate, they promised to increase community involvement in decision-making and roll back the board's focus on standardization across the district.

McLaren, who would become the only board member with teaching experience in Seattle, said she would bring a classroom perspective to the board.

The apparent triumphant incumbents — Maier, Carr and Martin-Morris — said they would work to continue recent district improvements. They also promised to be vigilant in preventing another financial scandal like the one that rocked the district in February.

A state audit released that month showed the district's regional small-business contracting program awarded $1.8 million in contracts with questionable or no public benefit. The scandal led to the firing of former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and theft charges against the program's director, Silas Potter Jr.

Police issued an arrest warrant for Potter on Tuesday after he failed to show up for his arraignment.

Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or brosenthal@seattletimes.com

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