Deputy superintendent enters race for state schools chief

Gil Mendoza
Gil Mendoza

A senior official at the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is now looking to lead the agency where he’s worked for four years.

Gil Mendoza, OSPI’s deputy superintendent for K-12 education, said he filed paperwork this week to run for state superintendent of public instruction in 2016.

Mendoza is looking to replace Randy Dorn, the current state schools chief who isn’t seeking re-election.

In his bid to lead the state’s public school system, Mendoza faces at least two opponents: state Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater, and Erin Jones, a Tacoma Public Schools administrator who lives in Lacey.

Former state Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, said he also is interested in running for the position, but has yet to formally announce his candidacy.

Mendoza said he believes his three decades of experience working in the K-12 school system sets him apart from others in the race. He said he is running so he can continue to build on some of the good work he and Dorn have accomplished together at OSPI.

“I’m very passionate about public education,” Mendoza said Thursday. “I’ve been in it for more than 30 years.”

Mendoza is a past superintendent of the Sumner School District. He also worked for 13 years at Tacoma Public Schools, serving for part of that time as the district’s director of federal programs.