Tag Archives: Suzanne Dale Estey

We Did It! Sue Peters Wins Historic Seattle School Board Election

We did it! With fantastic, community-wide support, we managed to win an  historic election for Seattle School Board.

Election night, we led by 51-48 percent, and with each day’s new ballot tallies, our margin has grown. As of this afternoon, the results are 53-46—a 7-point difference.  Wednesday night, my opponent, Suzanne Dale Estey, conceded.

[UPDATE: I have just updated the results to reflect the new numbers posted by King County Elections at 4:30 p.m. today. My margin has grown to 7 percent.]

[FURTHER UPDATE: As of Nov. 8, my margin has increased to nearly 9 points, 54-46, an 11,492-vote difference.]

Why Our Win Matters

This is a victory not only for my campaign, but for communities, families, and educators everywhere who are the key stakeholders in public education, but whose voices are not always heard in the current national debate over education reform, or in our own local school district policies.

This is also a victory for authentic, grassroots democracy. Seattle voters did not allow a small group of moneyed interests to buy this election. My opponent’s campaign and political action committee (PAC) spent a record-breaking $240,000+, a good portion of it on negative campaigning. This amount of money and such tactics are unprecedented in Washington State for a school board race. Yet voters were not fooled by the distortions and diversions of the PAC which attempted to smear my candidacy.

I am proud of my fiscally responsible, volunteer-driven campaign. I am also grateful to everyone who helped us stand up to this barrage of misinformation, and to those of you who promoted my candidacy personally. I want to particularly thank Dr. Diane Ravitch, who recognized that my campaign represented a national battle over the integrity and future of public education. Her support gave important legitimacy to our campaign and to my effort over the years to engage on education issues, as both a journalist and parent.

I have already begun to reach out to my opponent’s supporters. To those who share my commitment to public education, I welcome both discussion and action on the issues raised by my campaign, and I am committed to work together to meet the needs of all our students without resorting to privatization models.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve as your elected representative. I promise to be engaged on the issues and represent all of my constituents who share the goal of strengthening our public schools.  I am committed to serving the best interests of all our district’s 51,000 diverse students, families and school communities.

Sincerely,

Sue Peters

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On Credibility & Conspiracy — A Letter to Voters

A Letter to Voters

As Good as Our Word

Dear Voters,

In a recent Seattle Weekly article, my opponent’s political consultant, Christian Sinderman (pictured), accused my campaign of ‘insinuating’ that Suzanne Dale Estey supports charter schools.Csinderman

But the fact is, many people, both inside and outside my campaign, locally and nationally, have asked this legitimate question:  If Suzanne Dale Estey opposes charter schools, as she claims, why have all the major proponents of charter schools, the wealthy individuals who also bankrolled last year’s state charter schools Initiative 1240 (which 60 percent of Seattle voters rejected), and other corporate ed reform agenda items, invested a record amount of money into her campaign, and into the political action committee (“Great Seattle Schools”)  they created on her behalf? (For an unprecedented total of $240,000+) And why did they attack my candidacy repeatedly, if she and I are both opposed to their main agenda item?

What are we to believe?

Often, all we have is a candidate’s word on an issue. But what if someone’s words don’t add up? During the course of the last six months, on the campaign trail, both of us have had many opportunities to speak the truth on issues.

So at a forum in September, when we were asked by an audience member to identify our top five donors, many were surprised when my opponent claimed not to know who her top contributors were.  Yet,  Dale Estey’s top donors include the CEO of one of the biggest corporations in the world, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie, the CEO of one the largest foundations in the world, the Gates Foundation’s Jeff Raikes, real estate developer Matt Griffin,  and former Microsoft executive Christopher Larson (and now venture capitalist Nick Hanauer) who currently have contributed a combined total of $83,000+ to Dale Estey’s PAC and campaign.

 
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 37th District Democrats endorsement meeting, Sept. 9, 2013 (resulted in sole endorsement for Sue Peters)

Q: from the audience: Will you please tell us who your the top five contributors are?

SDE: You know, honestly, perhaps I should know that, but I don’t. I’ve received over 400 contributions, many, in fact the last time I checked and run the numbers, I haven’t run them recently, I have more contributors below $50 than my opponent has in her entire…. A senior citizen handed me $7 in cash the other day. I value each and every contribution. But no, I can’t name my top contributors. I could probably take a guess. My parents signed up right away. I have quite a few people who are absolutely fed up with the status quo of the school district and I’m very proud to have all of their support.

Sue P: Well mine is very much a community based campaign and I’m funded by a wide range of people and so my top contributors are teachers and parents and families who support me.

I can help my opponent out a little bit. Here are your top contributors: Steve and Connie Ballmer, I think they both contributed the max; Jeff Raikes, from the Gates Foundation and his wife. And then Matt Griffin and Christopher Larson, as you know, created a political action committee whose goal is to elect you and Stephan. They’ve already spent $32,000 in the primary to help you, and during that time they went negative against me and spent $16,000 on two negative mailers against me. So these are the contributors to my opponent’s campaign.

I am very proud of my campaign. We are grassroots, community based one. I represent the people. I believe in representing all the community. I believe the school board should be a democratically elected body representing all the people, elected by the people, not by the people with the most money.

In the last month of the campaign, my opponent started to claim in public forums that she “ran Governor Gary Locke’s D.C .office.” But there is no mention of this significant role on her resume.  I checked, and was unable to find any record of Suzanne Dale Estey being on Governor Locke’s payroll.

Education blogger and activist Melissa Westbrook researched this and other related issues and discovered that Dale Estey worked in Governor Locke’s office for just three months, as a paid summer intern from June-August 1998. Nowhere on Estey’s resume or in those public forums does she mention the word “internship” or mention the brevity of her experience there. Instead, she has said:

“(…) I’ve got significant public affairs experience in working in education policy at every level of government, from the Clinton White House, when I ran the conference on mayors on public schools, Governor Gary Locke, where I ran his D.C. office, and I’ve worked on education and human services issues for both the City of Seattle and King County Executive Ron Sims….”
– Suzanne Dale Estey, Eastlake Community Council forum, Oct. 15, 2013

And then The Stranger has reported that, in 2004, while serving as a lobbyist for Washington Mutual, Dale Estey sent an email to 9,000 employees urging them to vote against the Monorail, while at the same time, serving as a member of the Transportation Choices Coalition, a pro-Monorail organization. Did she support or oppose the Monorail? Both? Who knows.

Why does all of this matter?

Because one of us is going to be elected to the Seattle School Board. And I believe that honesty, integrity and the truth matter.

As a professionally trained journalist, I am committed to facts and the truth. I will bring such scrutiny to my role as your school board director. I will aim to oversee and safeguard our resources and help steer our district in a positive direction that corresponds to the needs and realities of our communities, and to the facts.

I have a proven history of researching and standing up for issues, and being on the right side of them. In 2009, I spoke up against the school closures. Eight months later, the district had to reopen schools at a cost of $48 million. In 2010, I advocated against the weak Discovering Math textbooks. The court agreed and declared the district’s decision to adopt these books “arbitrary and capricious.” In 2010, I analyzed the MAP test in a blog post called “15 Reasons Why the Seattle School District Should Shelve the MAP Test–ASAP.” In 2013, Garfield High School teachers spoke up about the flaws of the MAP, informed by my article. Their courageous action made national news and led to the discontinuation of MAP at the high school level.

Even the so-called “conspiracy theory” that Dale Estey’s PAC accused me of in a clumsy (but expensive) smear attempt last week, merely highlighted my focus on facts and commitment to understanding the bigger picture of education policy, reform and funding.

I will bring such insight and oversight to my role on the board.

I give you my word.

Sincerely,

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A Week in News: Two Themes Emerge — The ‘Hottest Race in Town’ & Follow the Money!

It’s been quite a week of local (and national) news coverage of my School Board race!
Here’s an overview:news&bills

Live radio interview/debate with Sue Peters and Suzanne Dale Estey on KBCS 91.3, hosted by Sonya Green (tune in at 4:09 p.m during “Music + Ideas”). — Oct. 15.

Disturbing developments from some of (my opponent) Dale Estey’s supporters, reported in the Seattle Schools Community Forum Blog (“Seattle School Board Campaigns – What Does a ‘Positive’ Campaign Look Like?”)  (Oct. 14) and The Stranger  (“How Low Can You Go in a School Board Race?”) (Oct. 15)

School Board District 4: The Hottest Race in Town
Even Steve Ballmer is dialed into the campaign for School Board District 4 Seattle Weekly, Oct. 15, 2013

The Stranger announces its General Election Endorsements & and Cheat Sheet! “Vote for Sue Peters!” — Oct. 16

Seattle School Board Candidates Clash on Testing, State Standards – KUOW 94.9 FM, Oct. 17, 2013

Could a Wealthy Few Decide Seattle’s School Board Races?– KUOW 94.9 FM, Oct. 18, 2013

Who Raised Over a Quarter  Million Dollars for Local School Board Races? — Diane Ravitch’s Blog, Oct. 18, 2013

DONATE! VOLUNTEER! VOTE! PASS IT ON!

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Matt Griffin & the Role of Big Money in Local Politics — including the School Board Race

Real estate developer Matt Griffin and his wallet. Is he trying to buy a Seattle School Board election?Real estate developer Matt Griffin and his wallet. Is he trying to buy a Seattle School Board election?

There was an interesting article in The Stranger recently by Cienna Madrid about the role of wealthy individuals in local political campaigns and the effort to limit that influence with

Proposition 1 (which I support). Madrid referred specifically to one of the top local political donors, real estate developer Matt Griffin. (Who Wants to Keep Big Money in Local Politics?, The Stranger, Sept. 16, 2013.)

The article caught the eye of my campaign because Griffin has also gotten involved in the Seattle School Board race this year, creating a political action committee (PAC) with the purpose of getting my opponent, Suzanne Dale Estey, and in District 5, Stephan Blanford, elected. His PAC, “Great Seattle Schools,” is also funded by former ex-Microsoft millionaire Christopher Larson, neither of whom have children in SPS, and CASE (Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy), the PAC of the Chamber of Commerce (the parent organization of the Alliance for Education).

In the August 6 primary election, Larson and Griffin’s PAC spent $32,500 on behalf of my opponent, Suzanne Dale Estey, $16,000 of which on two dishonest mailers attacking my candidacy.  (See: “My Opponent’s Side Goes Negative: My Response.”)  I believe such negative attacks are unprecedented for a Seattle School Board primary.

Now, just a few weeks ago, on Sept. 16, Matt Griffin deposited another $15,000 in his “Great Seattle Schools” PAC. So my campaign is expecting a third attack on me sometime soon. (I’ll report on it here.)

At a total of $32,300 (so far), Griffin’s financial contribution to my opponent’s candidacy adds up to more than the total contributions of all my supporters combined.

This year, for the first time, there are campaign finance limits for the Seattle School Board race, an idea I have supported for a while. Each individual or organization can contribute a maximum of $900 per candidate, per race (primary and general). But PACs have no limits, effectively offering an end-run around campaign finance reform, and arguably, an end-run around democracy, for it allows individuals with the most money to have greater influence.

Food for Thought

When asked about the behavior of the “Great Seattle Schools” PAC on her behalf, my opponent told the Seattle Times’ Linda Shaw that she is “not going to illegally try to inhibit their freedom of speech” of people like Griffin and Larson.  (Independent group enters school board campaign with negative ad, Seattle Times, August 1,2013.)

Well, here’s the question: Are we really talking about free speech — or undue influence? Democracy — or something else? Should our elections be won by those with the most money, or those with the best ideas and qualifications?

My race is a clear example of this choice.

In fact, the primary has revealed a clear distinction between my opponent and myself. I am backed by progressive, Democratic and labor organizations, community leaders and educators, and my top contributors are retired teachers, parents and friends. I am the only candidate in this race endorsed by every Democratic Legislative District (except the one that held its endorsement the day before I joined the race!), and have the sole endorsement of the SEA (the teachers’ and paraprofessionals’ union), M.L. King County Labor Council and the King County Democrats, community leaders like Kay Bullitt, Estela Ortega,  elected officials including King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, City Councilmember Nick Licata,  State Senators Maralyn Chase and Bob Hasegawa, State Representatives  Sharon Tomiko Santos, Gerry Pollet and Cindy Ryu.

My opponent’s top contributors include Microsoft CEO Steve and Connie BallmerJeff Raikes, the CEO of the Gates Foundation, businessmen Matt Griffin, Christopher Larson — who support  controversial and discredited ed reforms like charter schools, merit pay, and an emphasis on standardized, high-stakes testing. The person who put I-1240 (the charter school initiative) on the ballot last year has also endorsed my opponent (Tania de sa Campos, of DFER).

mollyiJournalist, author, humorist Molly Ivins (1944-2007)

As I said to the audience at the Horizon House forum this past Monday, “To quote the late, great Molly Ivins: You gotta dance with them what brung ya’ — and that’s who’s bringing” my opponent, the backers of corporate ed reform.

(At the 37th District Democrats endorsement meeting last month, my opponent claimed not to know who her top five contributors are–  the CEOs of some of the largest corporations and foundations in the world.)

This race prompted Dr. Diane Ravitch to write: Seattle: Status Quo Crowd Fears Sue Peters

UPDATE: On Oct. 11, Seattle Mariners co-owner Chris Larson added $15,000 to the “Great Seattle Schools” PAC pro-charter ed reform PAC Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), added another $10,000, and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer added $10,000.

On Oct 14, Hanauer added another $10,000, bringing the total cash amount in the political action committee to elect Suzanne Dale Estey to an unprecedented $96,000. Combined with Estey’s campaign funds of nearly $100,000, this is on track to be the most heavily funded School Board candidacy in Seattle history.

Seattle Mariners co-owner Chris Larson

Chris Larson,
co-owner of the Seattle
Mariners ($30,000)

 

NickH

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer
($20,000)

lisamDFER

Democrats for Education Reform – DFER ($10,000)
(DFER WA State Director, Lisa McFarlane)

If you believe that a few wealthy individuals should not decide who our school board members should be, and have undue influence on our elected officials and legislative bodies, please support and contribute to my campaign. And please remember to vote by November 5.

Thank you.

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DONATE! VOLUNTEER! VOTE! PASS IT ON!

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Primary Results: Ideas Trump Money — Sue Peters’ campaign is earning votes, not buying them

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Source: PDC reports through 8/19/2013, includes independent Political Action Committee (PAC) and in-kind donations. Certified election returns as of 8/20/2013.

The results are in, and my campaign finished the primary with nearly 43 percent of the vote in a three-way race. After garnering 41 percent on election night, my margin gradually rose while my opponent’s gradually decreased.  The final numbers give her only a 4.5 percent lead. It’s all pretty incremental and the final tally is quite close.

What isn’t close is how much money we spent on our campaigns and how we chose to get out the vote. My opponent outspent me by 8:1, paying political consultants to help her craft her message and campaign.  My community-based, all-volunteer campaign spent roughly 77 cents per vote;  my opponent’s campaign spent roughly $6 per vote.

Additionally, some of my opponent’s supporters formed a PAC and spent $32,500 trying to discredit my candidacy with two dishonest attack mailers.

In contrast, my volunteers and I opted to encourage voters to vote for me, with truthful information and 100 percent volunteer, grassroots support.

Fiscal Responsibility Begins with My Campaign

I believe that fiscal responsibility begins right here, with my campaign. As we all know, our schools are woefully underfunded and our state is not meeting its paramount duty to fully fund K-12 public education. Making smart use of limited resources is a crucial skill every school board director will need, and I am demonstrating my commitment to this principle with my campaign.

Trying to buy your way into winning an election is one strategy. Earning votes through true community engagement and fact-based ideas and solutions is my strategy.

Join my campaign!
Spread the word!
BE A CHAMPION for PUBLIC EDUCATION!

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Or send a check to: SUE PETERS FOR SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD, 2212 Queen Anne Avenue North, #611, Seattle, WA 98109

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My Opponent’s Side Goes Negative: My Response

For the Record….

Last week, a mailer was sent out to thousands of voters in Seattle School District 4 by a small group of supporters of Suzanne Dale Estey: Suzanne Naughton of the Great Seattle Schools, the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE, the political action committee of the Chamber of Commerce), local businessmen Matt Griffin and Christopher Larson.

It contains false and incomplete information about my campaign. My views, qualifications and endorsements are misrepresented or omitted altogether. Though there are three candidates in the race, I am the only one singled out for this treatment.

Like many others, I was disturbed to see supporters of my opponent resort to such dishonest tactics on her behalf, and so early in the race.

Yet, it is also an indication of the strength and appeal of my candidacy.

I am proud of our authentic and smart grassroots campaign, which has focused on ideas and solutions to serious school district issues. Already we have been able to achieve a great deal, powered by dedicated volunteers, and connecting with supporters throughout the city. Our campaign has managed to win significant and sole endorsements, including that of The Stranger, the M.L. King County Labor Council, and various Democratic organizations, and has earned the highest marks in the race from the Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee.

The Company We Keep

I was gratified to hear from many voters that the mailer had the reverse effect of what was intended. It made them more inclined to support me, and disgusted with the negative tactic. It even resulted in a surge in our campaign contributions that week. Though her own campaign did not generate the ad,  my opponent, disappointingly,  has not denounced it.

Meanwhile, I remain focused on issues that are important to the public who value my nearly 10 years of experience and deep knowledge of the Seattle Public School District, my local and national advocacy and service for public education as a Stanford-trained journalist, and my commitment to representing all the people of the Seattle Public School District.

In the interest of truth and accuracy, here are some corrections, for the record.

–Sue Peters

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UPDATE: Dale Estey supporters send second dishonest mailer

August 2, just a few days before the primary election, the same group of individuals who launched a smear campaign against my candidacy the previous week sent a second, similar 4-color, two-sided mailer to thousands of voters in Seattle’s District 4. 

Once again, real estate developer Matt Griffin, former Microsoft executive Christopher Larson, the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE) the PAC of the Chamber of Commerce, and “Great Seattle Schools,” a new PAC created to support the school board candidacies of Suzanne Dale Estey and Stephan Blanford, has issued another negative mailer targeting me.

This is a clear attempt to influence the election using unlimited independent expenditures and illustrates the negative influence of unchecked funding in politics. It’s ironic that this group, which is criticizing me for being concerned about the unaccountable, unelected influence of private money on public education, would illustrate my very point with their attempt to influence this election with their private money.

This unprecedented leap into negativity in a school board primary has caught the attention of the local media, Publicola (Independent Expenditure in the …  School Board Race), even the Seattle Times (Independent group enters school board campaign with negative ad), and has now made national news with my new endorsement from the Network for Public Education, Dr. Diane Ravitch’s new advocacy organization.

Meanwhile, my opponent, Suzanne Dale Estey, has told the Seattle Times that she agrees with the dishonest message her supporters are spreading.

Send a positive message. Help support our community-based, grassroots campaign.

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Or send a check to: SUE PETERS FOR SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD, 2212 Queen Anne Avenue North, #611, Seattle, WA 98109

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