Is Mary Bass in Trouble?

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It sure looks that way from the preliminary results, which show the veteran Seattle school boardmember running neck and neck with Kay Smith-Blum for District Five, in the Central Area. As of the latest returns, Bass has less than 40 percent of the vote, which is not a good sign for an incumbent. Like the mayor, she is vying for a third term in office. Also like the mayor, her appeal--which grew during a time, under former Superintendent Joseph Olchefske, when her no votes on the board seemed like maverick stands-- may be wearing thin.

So who is the person who may take her place?

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Fast-talking, well-funded and outwardly super-confident, Kay Smith-Blum is the kind of person who declares herself a "change agent" and enumerates her platform, on her website, as "Bold Idea Number 1" and "Bold Idea Number 2." Among her five bold ideas are making "school hours the same as adult work hours" and requiring all students to participate in Chinese- and Spanish-language immersion programs. A reader of this site points out that, on her website, she seems to confuse language immersion programs with International Baccalaureate ones, a rigorous academic program that is used around the globe. In a conversation late last week, Smith-Blum said she was about to change her references to the International Baccalaureate, but has not done so as yet.

Co-owner of the Butch Blum clothing store, she also brings a business sensibility to her approach. For instance, she stresses Starbucks-like customer service, which would have the district tweeting community members with the board agenda. And she knows how to market herself. Exhibit A: her unusual billboards; she's got at least three of them around town. Exhibit B: her website, which boasts an ad-like introduction consisting of stirring music and flashing inspirational images of Seattle's skyline and people.

 
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