Two Newcomers Vie for Seat on Seattle School Board

Oct 21, 2013

Two first-time candidates are facing off in a tight race for a seat on the Seattle School Board. Suzanne Dale Estey and Sue Peters are both vying to represent District 4, which covers Queen Anne, Magnolia, and parts of Ballard.

Dale Estey: Big Money, Veteran Consultant

Dale Estey is a K-12 graduate of Seattle Public Schools. While in high school, she served as chair of the Inter-High Council, an advisory role to the Seattle School Board. During her 20-year career as a business development consultant in public affairs, she worked at the White House and in King County. She also served as the city of Renton’s economic director.

Dale Estey describes her governance style as “people coming to a table and finding common ground.” In addition to a number of endorsements, her campaign has raised more than $100,000 in contributions, and her list of donors includes people connected to the Gates Foundation as well as those of more modest means.

“I’m not apologetic about the fact that there are lots of people in this community, including businesses, who are, frankly, fed up and fired up, and eager to pitch in and support our campaign,” she said.

Peters: Grassroots Activist, Blog Co-Author

Facing off against Dale Estey is Peters, a journalist and freelance writer who has been involved in local education efforts for nearly a decade. 

Peters co-authors the Seattle Education blog. She helped launch Parents Across America, a national education advocacy group, and co-founded the Seattle Math Coalition. She also volunteered on several education-related task forces, including the one charged on hiring a superintendent.

Peters also has a host of endorsements. Her contributions total less than $30,000. Her governance style, she says, would be to bring the voice of the community to board decisions.

“Connect policy with community,” she said.

Some Shared Views between Candidates

Dale Estey took the lead over Peters in the primary by 918 votes. While they come from very different backgrounds, the candidates share views on several issues. Both oppose charter schools. Both oppose excessive testing. And both favor “Singapore math”, a type of instruction that focuses on fundamental skills.

How to teach math is one of the issues the new board member will face as the district seeks ways to incorporate a new set of national standards called Common Core.

Another big issue for the board will be to figure out how to deal with one another. The current board, in a self-evaluation, gave itself low marks on collaboration.

Dale Estey says the current board is dysfunctional. Peters says that’s an overstatement. 

Other Races

Two additional seats are up for grabs on the seven-member Seattle School Board this election.

Bettu Patu is running unopposed for her seat in South Seattle. In the central part of the city, Stephan Blanford and LaCrese Green are facing off. Blanford led the primary by a big margin.