Hancock drops out of school board race, endorses Webster-Martinson

Cindy Webster-Martinson - File photo
Cindy Webster-Martinson
— image credit: File photo

POULSBO — School board candidate Cindy Webster-Martinson picked up an important endorsement this week — from her opponent.

Steve Hancock posted on the NK Education Facebook page Sept. 21 that he’s dropped out of the race for North Kitsap School Board District 1. However, his name will still appear on the ballot; that deadline was May 20, according to county elections office.

Hancock, a restaurant manager and former Poulsbo reserve police officer, said he made the decision to drop out of the race after talking to his campaign manager and friends.

“I have no qualms about what I can do. I can jump in and learn as I go along, but what the board needs at this point is someone with a little more experience and a background in education,” Hancock told the Herald Sept. 25. “The new board member will need to start off running. I kind of felt, it’s not about me or winning a position on the board. I think she would do a good job.”

Hancock is endorsing Webster-Martinson. “I am,” he said.

Webster-Martinson is poised to become, it is believed, the first Native American elected to the North Kitsap School Board; Marie Hebert, Port Gamble S’Klallam, was appointed to a vacancy on the school board and served in 2000-01.

Webster-Martinson will succeed Tom Anderson, who was first elected to the position in 2005.

The election is Nov. 5. School board members serve four-year terms. Board members are elected at large, but must live in the districts they represent.

Earlier this month, the Suquamish Tribal Council endorsed Webster-Martinson and District 3 candidate Beth Worthington for election.

Worthington is running against Doug Prichard for the District 3 position. The winner of that race will succeed Ken Ames, who was appointed to the board October 2012.

“Both candidates are supportive of Indian Education and recognize our tribal sovereignty and have stated their intentions to work towards addressing the challenges the Suquamish Tribe and the NK School District face in increasing Native student success,” Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman wrote in an email while attending a meeting out of state.

“Of course, we are very excited about the candidacy of Cindy Webster-Martinson, as she is a respected member of the Suquamish Tribe and a longtime professional educator that will bring a fresh perspective to the board if elected.”

Webster-Martinson served on the Suquamish Tribal Council in 1980-82 — her grandfather, Lawrence Webster, was chairman at the time — and this year she was elected to the Suquamish Tribe Elders Council. She has a BA in education and K-8 teacher certification from Pacific Lutheran University, and a master’s degree in education administration from Seattle University. She taught in grades K-6 for three years and for the past five years has worked as an educator/teacher for the Suquamish Tribe education department.

She said her likely election to the school board has amped up her preparation for the job. “I’ve been printing out minutes and attending meetings as much as I can, but I can’t afford to miss them anymore now,” she said.

Her top priority: “I know the budget is a huge and challenging issue. For my part, I really want to [ensure] students and teachers are supported in the best way possible.”

In her candidate statement in the voter pamphlet, Webster-Martinson wrote that art, music, drama and sports are not “unnecessary extras.” “These are important to student growth and participation in school and a well-rounded education. Research shows that students flourish with lower class sizes and quality teacher-student relationships. We cannot know this and still provide substandard conditions for the teachers and students.”

She wants more transparency in board decisions, and increased board member consideration of “educational research and practice, classroom conditions, and the community’s educational concerns.”

Meanwhile, Hancock said he wants to get involved and serve on a school district committee. “I need a little more experience under my belt,” he said. “What I want to do is continue on the process of learning. I thought I was pretty well informed, having three kids in North Kitsap schools, but there are a lot of serious issues and I want to understand the process.”


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