West Seattle’s new County Councilmember, Jan Drago, paid two high-profile visits to this part of her district on Wednesday: She attended the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting keynoted by County Executive Dow Constantine, whose former seat she’s holding until next November’s election, and then last night’s meeting of the 34th District Democrats – who had energetically opposed seeing anyone appointed to the council seat but State Sen. Joe McDermott. Ahead, what she had to say – and other 34th DDs highlights:
The senator, who’s already campaigning for the permanent job (on this November’s ballot), actually introduced Drago at last night’s meeting. While on the Seattle City Council, she was its most recent Transportation Committee chair, telling the 34th DDs that in that role she worked with County Executive Constantine on city and county transportation issues, and expects to continue now that he’s appointed her to the Sound Transit board. Among the city projects she’s proudest of, with special relevance to West Seattle, she mentioned the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project:
(Latest on that is here.) Drago also expressed hopes of creating a city-county partnership to address youth violence.
The day before the 34th DDs meet again is the special election with a Seattle Public Schools ballot measure going before voters, and that was the subject of a presentation from West Seattle school board rep Steve Sundquist and teachers’ union rep Glenn Bafia. Sundquist said SPS enrollment is up for the second consecutive year, which means more students and more pressure to meet achievement standards – even as the state keeps tightening the budget belt. New tools will help, he said – the district is pursuing mentoring programs for first-year teachers, and will put more emphasis on evaluating teachers at the school level. Responding to a question, he said the district might look at tying teacher pay to student performance, though any such proposal would require public review.
Regarding the district’s much-discussed new Student Assignment Plan, Sundquist said it will get the district out of the transportation business and back into the education business, with the goal of having every school offer a rigorous education. After the presentation, the 34th DD members voted unanimously to endorse approval of the school levies (you can find out more about them here).
Touching moments at last night’s meeting, too – a tribute to Cherisse Luxa, a tireless community activist and 34th District Democrats fixture until starting to lose the battle with cancer that finally claimed her life last month. Her neighbor Jim Clingan – who chairs the 34th District Republicans – said, if there was one word to define Ms. Luxa, it’s “intensity.” While they differed on many issues, he recalled, they remained friends to the end, and he thanked the 34th DDs for allowing him to speak in her memory. The 34th DDs’ King County Committeeman Ivan Weiss reminded the group that a gathering in Ms. Luxa’s honor is planned for January 27, 7 pm at Mick Kelly’s Irish Pub in Burien.
The 34th District Democrats meet at The Hall at Fauntleroy, second Wednesday of the month, with socializing at 6:30, meeting at 7.