Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Vivian Song Maritz, Michelle Sarju and Brandon Hersey lead Seattle School Council elections

Vivian Song Maritz, Michelle Sarju and incumbent President Brandon Hersey led the three-seat races on the Seattle School Council, the state’s largest school district, on Tuesday.

Song Maritz received almost 68% of the vote, Sarju got 82%, and Hersey was in the lead with about 91%.

The three winners will inherit long-standing problems with transport, transparency and communications. The school year began with late bus routes – sometimes as many as 60 a day – and recently the district had to cut more than 100 routes to keep buses on track.

The shortage of national bus drivers has hit Seattle’s schools hard, and the district is working to recruit more drivers and train them quickly. The Board will also have the task of hiring a new superintendent.

The only active player in the race is Hersey, who represents the 7th arrondissement, covering southeastern Seattle. His opponent, Genesis Williamson, ended his campaign on July 26, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

The two candidates running for District 4, which includes Queen Anne, Magnolia and Ballard, are Laura Marie Rivera and Song Maritz. Rivera said she has worked as an educator in the public and private sector for 30 years, where she taught in kindergartens, school programs in museums, and art education for adults and children.

Rivera said she is focused on ensuring that students have better access to educational programs, especially for students who are often left behind. Song Maritz said she will work to improve the experience of overlooked communities such as English learners and students with disabilities.

If elected, Song Marits said she would reconsider her life situation. To run for a seat in District 4, she moved to an apartment in Ballard. Until the election deadline, she lived on Capitol Hill, where her family currently lives.

Although Tuesday’s results do not “meet the goals of representing the district on the school board” due to Song Maritz’s life situation, Rivera said she wishes her opponent “good luck and success in working hard for the children and schools.”

District 5 candidate Sarju, who serves as a mother and child health project manager in King County, said she will prioritize student emotional and mental health and insist that nurses and counselors be present in every school building. The district also needs to have better communication and transparency with families, especially regarding school closure scenarios.

Sarju said she was “thrilled” but also “stunned” to receive nearly 100,000 votes.

“This is a statement and evidence that people truly believe in what I have said, and in this vision that all children should have access to high quality education in public schools and give back the attention to children,” Sarju said.

Dan Harder, who ran for the 2018 Republican Senate, said he will focus on high expectations from students and ensure that the school system promotes equality and quality education for all.

District 5 includes Downtown, Capitol Hill, Chinatown International, First Hill, Leshey, Madison, and Central District.

Hersey, a District 7 representative, was a second grade teacher in the Federal Way School District, but is now the political director of PROTEC17, a union representing engineers and other professionals at the city, county and state levels.

Hersey said he will continue to focus on student engagement, in particular getting student council members to participate in meetings and discussions.

Nation World News Desk
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