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Former Gig Harbor State Rep. Joins Crowded Race For State Schools Superintendent

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor listens to testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee at a budget savings meeting Saturday morning, Dec. 11, 2010, in Olympia, Wash.

A former state lawmaker from Gig Harbor announced Thursday he'll enter an increasingly-crowded field in the race to replace Randy Dorn in Washington's top elected education office: the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Former Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, joins three candidates already in the race: State Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater; Tacoma Public Schools administrator Erin Jones and current Assistant State Superintendent Gil Mendoza.

Unlike his opponents, who all have career ties to education (Reykdal's campaign website says he's a former classroom teacher and school board member), Seaquist was an officer and battleship commander in the U.S. Navy. He says the state superintendent does not need to be a technocrat, but instead must bring a big-picture focus to the office.

"My conception of Superintendent of Public Instruction is not somebody who goes to Olympia and tells teachers how to manage every minute of their day," Seaquist said. "My view is that what our state needs and what our state needs and our educators need is a leader able to work with the entire education system and help the whole system become healthy.”

Seaquist prefers using graduation rates to measure the health of the school system, not standardized tests. He also wants to un-complicate Washington’s current teacher evaluation system.

Seaquist served four terms in the Washington State House before Republican challenger Michelle Caldier ousted him from his seat in 2014.

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.