Sunday, October 21, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Single issues out on School Board

The Seattle school district's return to fiscal responsibility and sound stewardship is best advanced by electing Peter Maier, Sherry Carr and Steve Sundquist to the School Board.

Dramatic cuts and reforms instituted by the previous schools' chief have left Seattle Public Schools with millions in savings. Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, along with Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno, are a team sound in vision and leadership. Their success requires the support of a board filled with professionals steeped in leadership and policymaking. Single-issue activism is out and so ought to be the incumbents who ushered it in.

Peter Maier is a consumer-rights attorney best suited for board service. He has a deep working knowledge of the district's challenges and successes, much of it gathered leading successful school-levy campaigns in 2004 and 2007. Maier's candidacy promises steady, responsible and focused leadership, qualities needed to support, rather than supplant, the superintendent.

Sally Soriano's four-year term has been marked by a fixation on misguided causes. She filed an affidavit supporting a lawsuit against the district over the school-closures process. The suit was eventually dismissed. Nonetheless, Soriano's counterproductive act cost the district time and money it could ill afford.

Soriano was a voice for school drinking-water improvements but she then cost the district millions more by creating water-quality thresholds above federal standards. Puzzlingly, Soriano voted against a bond measure that would have included millions to fix the water problems she championed. "No" votes on budgets in two of her four years were political rather than principled.

• Sherry Carr offers a voice from the Greenlake community that is steeped in school involvement. She has been a president of the Seattle PTSA and a board member of the district's fundraising arm, the Alliance for Education.

Intense volunteerism imbued Carr with an understanding of district operations and a thick Rolodex of relationships across a diverse expanse of Seattle. She is endorsed by an impressive swath of state elected officials, Mayor Greg Nickels and school activists from Trish Millines-Dziko to Doreen Cato, to former School Board member Al Sugiyama.

Carr is a Boeing senior finance leader, with a skill-set necessary for thoughtful debate on the district's $500 million annual budget.

Darlene Flynn cast her bid for a second term in the uncompelling light of a before-and-after experiment. Flynn acknowledges a bumpy transition to the board four years ago but it was, and remains, far more than that.

Flynn was never able to rise above anger over the district's $34 million overrun that led to her candidacy. Likewise, Flynn's voice on critical issues such as minority student achievement and school equity rarely rose to the level of cogent leadership.

Steve Sundquist offers policy and organizational know-how gained from a financial-services career and service on nonprofit boards. Sundquist has a knack for quietly getting things done, including helping bring the International Baccalaureate program to Sealth High School. The program will help the struggling West Seattle school grow in academic rigor and reputation. It also underscores efforts by the district to have consistently high-quality schools across the city.

Opponent Maria Ramirez is a passionate advocate for the West Seattle schools community. But her failure to vote in the last school levy and bond election raises concerns.

• Voters should also elect Harium Martin-Morris. The Boeing executive and public-schools advocate offers a fresh and thoughtful voice.

Voters should reject the discord of the last four years and go for a strong foundation that supports our city schools. Elect Maier, Carr, Sundquist and Martin-Morris.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


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