It looks like anoth­er incum­bent school board mem­ber may end up get­ting oust­ed by Seat­tle vot­ers, after it ini­tial­ly appeared that only one would lose his job.

Though he was able to main­tain an edge in the con­test for school board direc­tor in Dis­trict #1 for near­ly a week, incum­bent Peter Maier is now in seri­ous dan­ger of los­ing his seat. Today, he relin­quished the lead to chal­lenger Sharon Peaslee, who has claimed a sur­pris­ing­ly large share of the late ballots.

Peaslee is now nine­ty-one votes ahead of Maier, after hav­ing trailed by two thou­sand, nine hun­dred and nine­ty-two votes only a week ago.

If she pre­vails, she will join fel­low chal­lenger Mar­ty McLaren on the Seat­tle School Board. (McLaren is now well ahead of incum­bent Steve Sundquist after claim­ing an ear­ly lead on elec­tion night, and is the like­ly vic­tor in the race for Dis­trict #6.)

The two oth­er incum­bents who sought reelec­tion this year, Sher­ry Carr and Har­i­um Mar­tin-Mor­ris, appear to have been reelect­ed to new terms, though Car­r’s lead over chal­lenger Kate Mar­tin has shrunk sig­nif­i­cant­ly since last week.

Maier and Sundquist’s depar­ture would sig­nif­i­cant­ly alter the com­po­sure of the board, which has made a num­ber of bad deci­sions in recent years.

Maier and Sundquist pro­vid­ed two of the five votes in July of 2010 to extend the con­tract of ex-Super­in­ten­dent Maria Good­loe John­son, who the board unan­i­mous­ly oust­ed this last spring after it was dis­cov­ered that her admin­is­tra­tion had failed to pre­vent three dis­trict offi­cials from steal­ing a quar­ter of a mil­lion dol­lars from the dis­trict. (King Coun­ty pros­e­cu­tors have charged the three peo­ple respon­si­ble with felony theft; two of them have plead­ed not guilty).

Maier and Sundquist also refused to help pro­tect a grove of trees at Ingra­ham High School, which the school dis­trict chopped down after a pro­tract­ed fight with the neigh­bor­ing com­mu­ni­ty, led by NPI board mem­ber Steve Zemke.

Well-known Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton mete­o­rol­o­gist Cliff Mass is among those who cam­paigned active­ly for Maier’s defeat. In a post pub­lished to his weath­er blog on Octo­ber 22nd, Mass sum­ma­rized the con­test between the two as fol­lows:

Peter is clear­ly the weak­est of the board mem­bers and was the mem­ber who knew about the finan­cial prob­lems and kept qui­et about it. Did­n’t seem to care about math edu­ca­tion. Rub­ber-stam­per. I have known Sharon Peaslee for years.  She has a real back­ground in edu­ca­tion, has kids in the schools, and has worked active­ly for improved math edu­ca­tion. Sharon is strong-willed and will ask the hard ques­tions.  She is sup­port­ed by The Stranger and most of the local Demo­c­ra­t­ic orga­ni­za­tions, as well as Seat­tle teach­ers. Peter has a huge finan­cial war chest and is run­ning a huge num­ber of adver­tise­ments. Let’s hope that mon­ey does­n’t decide this race.

Maier still has a chance to win, but Peaslee seems to have sol­id and steady momen­tum. If the trend we’ve been see­ing con­tin­ues, Maier will be join­ing Sundquist in exit­ing the school board at year’s end.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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