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Seattle School District 1

Director District 5

Omar Vasquez

Omar Vasquez

PO Box 21002

Seattle, WA 98111

Education: BS Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton; JD, University of Arizona, James Rogers College of Law
Occupation: Former high school teacher; Business & Tax Attorney

The Only Candidate with Public School Teaching Experience


The promise of public education is to empower students to be successful in our global economy and to break free from intergenerational poverty. Yet in Seattle we are facing a crisis.  Seattle Public Schools have the fifth WORST achievement/opportunity gap in the country.  Low-income students (disproportionately students of color) are falling further behind grade-level, dropping out at higher rates, and experiencing unjust disciplinary disparities, relative to students in wealthier neighborhoods.


And it’s not just low-income families: our students are next to LAST in the nation for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) training, even though Washington is FIRST in the nation in STEM jobs.


For six years, I taught Freshman Algebra, AP Calculus, and International Baccalaureate Math at a low-income public high school. For two of those years, I was the department chair serving the needs of approximately 2,500 students.  I have a proven record propelling high-performing students, making gains with struggling students, and training new teachers.  I want to leverage that experience on behalf of Seattle’s kids.


I am the only candidate with the experience in education, law, and finance necessary to effectively manage the multi-billion dollar Seattle Public Schools enterprise.

I envision Seattle becoming the first city in the nation to provide a world-class education to ALL students -- a city where income, race, and neighborhood are no longer predictors of student success.  STEM is critical.  But in the era of fake news and “alternative facts,” so are research skills, critical thinking, and civics to prepare students to be tomorrow’s leaders.  We can live up to our progressive ideals, but it requires bold leadership.  Our schools and our students deserve no less.


I’m running for school board to make this vision a reality.  I hope to earn your vote.

Andre Helmstetter

Andre Helmstetter

412 20th Avenue

Seattle, WA 98122

(206) 579-7169

Education: BA, The Evergreen State College, Focus: Technology & Community Systems
Occupation: Senior Management Consultant

As a public school parent with three children (kindergarten to high school), a former mentor at the King County Juvenile Detention Center and a previous PTA volunteer, I bring an understanding of challenges facing our students and teachers, and the manner in which policy impacts children and families.


As a consultant, I have worked in the public and private sectors and have direct experience in supporting government agencies in improving policies and operational processes. With roots in facilitation, strategic planning and technology, I bring valuable skills to approach school board priorities and new strategies in thoughtful ways. With uncertain funding, my experience in lean management and operations will be an asset to the community.


Issues I want to tackle:


Strategies for narrowing opportunity gaps


Enrollment growth and building capacities


Ensuring adequate lunch and recess times


Reducing the time spent on testing


Providing all families with a voice in Seattle Public Schools


Seattle has 54,000 students being served in 99 buildings, with 143 languages/dialects spoken, 3,000 students who are homeless and 34% of students facing food and housing insecurity. We have an opportunity to make our school district a national leader in providing quality education. I will work collaboratively to create solutions that meet our city's needs taking into account all of our families.


The challenges facing our district—some organic, some the result of shortsighted planning—require leaders who listen, seek information from both supporting and opposing viewpoints, and who apply their highest, most creative thinking to decisions. I will bring these abilities to the School Board. I ask for your support and vote.


Early Endorsements: 36th Legislative District Democrats; School board directors: Sue Peters, Leslie Harris, Betty Patu; Rita Green, MBA, Education Advocate; Amy Hagopian, PhD; Barbara Kelley, Co-President, Garfield PTSA; Wayne Au, Professor of Education, UW Bothell.

Candace Vaivadas

Candace Vaivadas

1916 11th Ave S

Seattle, WA 98134

(206) 324-4951

Education: Bachelors: Communications & Comp.Literature & Cultural Studies, Franklin University Switzerland; Masters: Culture Industry, University London
Occupation: Licensed Private Investigator & Tutor

My family has resided in Seattle on Beacon Hill since 1908, with every generation attending public schools. That's over 100 years of feeling the effects of School Board choices.  I know we can do better.

As a child, my divorced mother struggled to balance family and career, and I have intimate knowledge of how poverty affects students- supporting struggling families, providing better food in our schools, and ensuring that no student goes hungry remains essential in our district, and I will protect these programs and support developing them as the cost of living rises in our city.

Throughout my life, and now as a tutor through University Tutors in Seattle Schools at Chief Sealth High School, I've seen what People of Color, immigrant families, Native Americans and the most marginalized endure both in and outside of school.  I will fight for their equity and support in our school district. 

During the period of Affirmative Action in Seattle, I was bused to a North End school and the obvious educational inequality that I witnessed then continues today- I pledge to work to reduce this disparity as it is pivotal in equalizing education across Seattle. 

As a licensed Private Investigator specializing in police conduct, I've seen the effects of the school-to-prison pipeline; reducing this problem is my mission.  

Our advanced placement and gifted programs should be based on ability not circumstance; ensuring that students are held to grade level standards throughout their education will support diversity in these classes. 

I will advocate for a Superintendent who challenges legislators to adequately fund public education including supporting STEM, Career Technical Education, and the Arts. 

I promise to be a dedicated advocate for our children and I will strive to support a school district that produces young adults that are ready to meet today's challenges.

Zachary Pullin DeWolf

Zachary Pullin DeWolf

213 17th Ave E #18

Seattle, WA 98112

(206) 771-4207

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Western Washington University
Occupation: All Home Program Manager, Volunteer Commissioner with Seattle Housing Authority

I’m running for School Board to support students and serve families because I believe in Seattle’s future as one where all students thrive. Our schools must do more to celebrate the diverse students and families that make up our city. To make sure every child has a path to succeed, we must foster inclusion and community.

As a Chippewa Cree tribal member, housing commissioner, LGBTQ community advocate, I’ve witnessed the value of inclusive decision-making. As a Braille teacher, I opened and operated a library during my time in the Peace Corps. As I meet with parents and students around the district, I’m told time and again how they feel ignored and their requests go unanswered. I’ll be their voice and your champion on the School Board. We need innovative and comprehensive solutions to address the achievement and opportunity gaps. I’ll invest in programs that accommodate diverse student needs like IB programs, strengthened special education, individualized instruction, and positive behavioral intervention.

We must protect public education. Unlike other candidates in this race, I’m staunchly opposed to charter schools. Giving parents more choice and control doesn’t mean we need to drain resources from public schools. I’ll push the legislature to fully fund education and invest more in our students and teachers. To foster a productive learning environment for our students, we have a responsibility to ensure Seattle Public Schools are safe, welcoming, and inclusive. Improving the pathways to success for disproportionately impacted students like students of color, LGBTQ students, students experiencing homelessness or housing instability, students with disabilities, and undocumented students will greatly improve the future success of all.

I’m proudly endorsed by Rep. Nicole Macri, Seattle School Board member Jill Geary, Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez, Sheriff John Urquhart, former PTA President Marina Gray. I’d be honored to earn your vote.

Alec Cooper

Alec Cooper

909 21st Ave E

Seattle, WA 98112

(512) 221-9089

Education: MBA, University of Texas at Austin, BA History, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Occupation: Director of Strategic Business Development, Amazon

I am a former President and Treasurer of the Garfield High School PTSA and a parent with two daughters in Seattle Public Schools (SPS). I have worked in technology for 20 years and my focus is on solving complex problems, understanding and meeting customer needs, and getting results. Like many of you, I also have a deep belief in the importance of public education.


I’m running to be your School Board Director because I believe that the district is dysfunctional, underperforming and in need of systemic change. In Seattle, nearly one out of three K-12 students opt out of the free public school system and pay for private school. When families opt out, we lose their engagement, money, and passion for making our schools great. We also create a fundamentally inequitable and inefficient two-tier system.


We have gotten to this place through years of mismanagement and poor leadership in SPS. The school district is clearly both unresponsive to families and not accountable to stakeholders. In the 2016 School Climate Survey, only 22% of families felt that the central office was responsive to their concerns. The district is currently on track to meet only about half of their 2017-18 strategic targets.


We can do better.


I will be your advocate and watchdog on district responsiveness and accountability, pushing to rebuild district culture and leadership to create a culture of putting families, not bureaucracy, first.


I will hold the district accountable on strategic goals, including critical goals on closing opportunity gaps which are not currently on track.


I will prioritize teachers and teacher pay, as well as professional development and curriculum.


I will push the district to build win-win partnerships to ensure the local business community is invested in our children’s success.


I would be honored to have your support.  Thank you.

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