Capitol Hill’s school board seat will have a vacancy this year, and the incumbent has some thoughts for anyone interested in running. Board member Zachary DeWolf will not be running for re-election to the seat representing District 5, which covers the bulk of Capitol Hill, the Central District, downtown and the area near the stadiums.
It’s a tumultuous time for Seattle and the city’s relationship with its public schools is part of the choppy waters. Some are hoping to recall Seattle’s each and every school board member. Let’s talk about how to elect them.
The school board has a hybrid district/at-large system for elections. Only residents of a given district may vote in the August primary, but in the November General Election, the vote is citywide. And yes, the City Council districts and the School Board districts are different. Capitol Hill is in District 3 in the City Council, but 5 in the School Board.
The Board itself is in a time of transition, but then that’s pretty typical. It’s rare for a board member, formally called a director, to serve two terms; of the seven board members, only one, Leslie Harris, is in her second term. Two of the board’s seven seats are filled by people appointed to fill out the terms of directors who resigned. Of the remaining four, three were elected in 2019.
Capitol Hill’s DeWolf was elected in 2017 with 64% of the vote. He ran for City Council in 2019 and finished fourth in the primary with 12.6%.
DeWolf cautions anyone considering running that the school board is not an easy job. Board duties would typically take up 20-25 hours per week, and board members receive an annual stipend of less than $5,000.
“This is public service,” DeWolf said. “It is not meant to be our paid job. However, it is a $1 billion organization. There’s issues that come up a lot.”
So far one person, Michelle Sarju, a longtime Central District resident, Seattle school parent, and manager at King County Public Health, has formally announced her intention to run for DeWolf’s seat, and she has earned his endorsement. Continue reading