The Seattle School Board appointed Brandon Hersey as the new representative for District VII in Southeast Seattle. He was sworn in immediately after last night’s vote and participated in the remainder of the regular board meeting.
Hersey is an elementary school teacher in Federal Way Public Schools. He’s been living in Columbia City since moving to Seattle a couple years ago. He seemed like a strong candidate from the beginning and I remain cautiously optimistic about his capability to be a vanguard for change on the board.
For the moment, however, I want to focus not on Hersey, but instead on this process.
Because Betty Patu, our longtime school board rep, resigned in the midst of her term, the other six school board members appointed our new representative without a public vote, choosing Hersey over fellow finalists Emijah Smith and Julie Van Arcken without direct input from constituents.
Whether or not Hersey was a good choice, what I expected to happen is exactly what ended up happening: rather than listening to the people, the board chose the candidate they wanted.
“Although other candidates were more popular on feedback forms collected by the district after candidate forums it hosted over the summer, board members said they wanted to add a K-12 teacher to their ranks,” wrote Dahlia Bazzaz today in the Seattle Times. “They also said his perspective would be valuable in helping the district meet its long-term commitment to improving the achievement of African American male students over the next five years.”
Brandon Hersey is not the candidate who would have been elected, but he is the candidate who was chosen. That’s tough to grapple with.
As one person walked out after Hersey had been selected, they said loudly, “We’re watching. Waiting. Demanding. Expecting.”
It was powerful. Now, we wait and see whether Brandon Hersey will be up to this tall task. He’s got a lot of support.