Two seats on the Tacoma School Board are up for grabs this year, and seven candidates want them.
That means a bit of summer school for Tacoma and Fircrest voters, who will have to narrow both the races down to two candidates in the Aug. 4 primary.
▪ For Position 2, we think the choice is straightforward: Catherine Ushka, an incumbent finishing her first term, ought to be returned to the board for another six years.
She’s been part of a winning team. In the past few years, Tacoma Public Schools has seen a dramatic increase in graduation rates. That’s not an accident. Under the leadership of Superintendent Carla Santorno, the district has been actively building a “college-going culture,” pointing students toward graduation and beyond from the earliest grades.
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We’re not inclined to shake up the district’s leadership when things are going this well.
Ushka has three challengers: Will Jenkins Sr. is a retired Marine who runs a small nonprofit. Robert Bearden is a Coast Guard veteran and a consultant. Information about the fourth candidate, Antonio Wyatt, has been hard to come by.
▪ The race for Position 4 offers voters two credible candidates.
This is an open seat; the incumbent, Kurt Miller, is stepping down.
One candidate, David Carnahan, has provided little information about himself to The News Tribune and the Pierce County Voters Guide. The other two — Andrea Cobb and Alisa Regala O’Hanlon — are strong.
O’Hanlon handles federal and tribal relations for the City of Tacoma. She’s been an active volunteer in the community and previously was a program director at Safe Streets. Although we’re not endorsing her, she easily clears the bar for this position; if elected, she’d be a fine addition to the school board.
Cobb is an exceptionally good candidate — one of the most promising we’ve ever seen. A Lincoln High School graduate from a single-parent home, she was the first of her family to attend college. She now holds a master’s of public administration from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs, and she is completing work on a UW doctorate in educational leadership.
Cobb has worked as a policy analyst at the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and she currently works at the Tacoma Housing Authority creating subsidized college savings accounts for disadvantaged students.
Her years inside the world of education show in her uncommonly impressive grasp of public school issues. We think she’s an excellent prospect to help lead am urban school district that is reaching toward greatness.
Read more election endorsement editorials at www.thenewstribune.com/endorsements.