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Seattle educators give passing grades to two District 3 candidates — but not the one with a seat on the School Board


Fresh off news of her surprisingly strong fundraising, public defender and District 3 candidate Ami Nguyen is sharing an endorsement with incumbent Kshama Sawant that comes as a major blow to the campaign of another of the challengers.

The Seattle Education Association, the city’s public school teachers union, has endorsed Nguyen and Sawant for the August primary.

“Ami Nguyen impressed us as a candidate who understands from firsthand experience the life-changing power of a quality education replete with fully funded support programs and strong advocates. Her story and depth of legal knowledge and experience as a public defender make her a worthy candidate for our endorsement,” the group writes.

SEA said Sawant “has been a strong labor ally with us, showing up on our picket lines and at many SEA events.” “We are inspired by her transformative vision for a more affordable city for the working people of Seattle,” they said of the incumbent candidate.

“We place the burden of society’s inequities on our educators, and rather than shy away, our educators are resilient and advocate for better conditions for students,” Nguyen said in a statement on the select. “Seattle needs to provide social services, an adequate number of nurses, and wrap-around programs at our public schools to ensure that our children can focus on learning and achieve their dreams.”

“As the daughter of refugees from a war-torn Vietnam, Nguyen relied on public education and credits her success early in life to the support she received from public educators,” the Nguyen statement reads.

Her campaign also took a swipe at fellow challenger Zachary DeWolf who serves on the School Board but was passed up by SEA’s decision process, saying the choice comes as “no surprise” because DeWolf “has often been criticized for his lackluster School Board attendance record, weak constituent meeting record, and failure to develop meaningful policy.”

DeWolf did not respond to our inquiry about the SEA endorsements.

In March, CHS spoke with Nguyen about her decision to run for the seat and hopes of better representing the D3 neighborhoods beyond Capitol Hill.

Sawant, meanwhile, focused her efforts to begin the week on “Just Cause” legislation and pushing for the tenant protections enjoyed in Seattle to expand across King County.

With ballots set to be mailed next month, it has been a busy time for endorsements with DeWolf wrestling away a big chunk of Sawant’s labor support, and a powerful business group and PAC lining up behind Egan Orion. Sawant, in the meantime, leads all comers with some $163,000 in contributions raised so far in the campaign, by far the city’s most expensive race.

CHS is preparing a candidate survey with reader questions. You can add your suggested questions and thoughts here.

CHS Reader District 3 Candidate Survey — Call for questions

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Melissa Westbrook
Melissa Westbrook
1 year ago

As an expert on Seattle Public Schools (I write the Seattle Schools Community Forum blog), I would concur with Ms. Nguyen – DeWolf’s tenure on the Seattle School Board is lackluster.

He has had just two community meetings in two years with parents and the public. Contrast that with all the other directors who have at least one community meeting a month.

His school district region is roiling with principal problems both at Washington Middle School (where parents begged him for months for help) and Bailey Gatzert Elementary. See this KUOW story for BGE.

He said at this blog he wanted to get Ethnic Studies done and yet one-third of principals won’t even answer emails on the topic. And DeWolf sits on the Executive Committee of the Board and knows this.

What is worse is that running for City Council is huge job and yet he’s hanging onto his post at the Board where he missed two Board meetings this year (one of them he missed, he was at the Labor Council endorsement meeting) and missed or left early from Work Sessions and committee meetings. That’s not commitment to the work.

His commitment level to taxpayers and parents is not there. If he can’t do the job that he ran for and was elected to now, what makes voters think it would be different if he were elected to City Council?

There are other good choices in this race and I urge voters to consider them especially in the context of this blog post.

1 year ago

Go Ami!
Hope someone runs against DeWolf for school board. He clearly doesn’t care about that job.

1 year ago

This article is inaccurate and misleading. SEA is stating the union position as if it is the voice of teachers. There was no poll nor survey done with teachers. How would SEA know who the majority of teachers support?
They made that up in their office without consulting educators.

1 year ago
Reply to  jseattle

A small group of SEA members make up the EPIC team that screens candidates. There is no vote put to SEA members.
They do not speak for all educators. I am an SEA member and Sawant is not endorsed by myself or any educators I currently work with.

Go Ami!