As a blogger, some of my most influential posts have come from mud-raking hits on the personal character of my subjects. One-time King County executive hopeful David Irons Jr., former FEMA director Mike Brown, and former Public Lands Commission Doug Sutherland, for example, have all been the victims of my sometimes ruthless reporting. But as eager as I am to go for a knockout punch, one thing I never ever do is go after the juvenile children of a candidate.
Hell, even personal issues like divorce and affairs are aren't really fair game unless they demonstrate some sort of blatant hypocrisy or obvious relevance to one's ability to do the job. Even candidates I don't like deserve a little privacy. But children are almost always off limits.
And so it was with a fair amount of genuine outrage that I read Melissa Westbrook's post on the nasty goings on in the school board race between Suzanne Dale Estey and Sue Peters. While Dale Estey comes off as likable enough in person, her surrogates have gone out of their way to make this the meanest school board race I can remember. For example, as Westbrook reports, there's the story of Dale Estey endorser Jean Bryant, who the campaign website lists as an "Education Leader." Bryant has been attacking Peters for allegedly "highly combative" emails between Peters and the principal and some teachers her children's school. But how could Bryant possibly know about these emails?
She filed a public disclosure to the district for e-mails between Peters and the principal and Peters and her children's teachers.
Yes, you read that right. Peters's emails about her children's education that she wrote to her children's teachers and principals were the ones Bryant filed a public documents request to read.
It is absolutely legal to use public disclosure; I do all the time. But I have NEVER - in 15+ years - ever asked for an e-mail so I could see what a parent was talking to a staff member about pertaining to a child. Never.
As a parent, I am outraged. Communications between a parent and their children's teachers should be private. Period. And the very thought that somebody would file a public disclosure request like this in pursuit of a cheap political hit is beyond offensive.
What kind of person does something like this? The kind of person that Dale Estey apparently considers to be an "Education Leader."
This has been a very troubling campaign from start to finish. In our SECB interview, both candidates came off as knowledgeable and competent, but while she mostly said the right things, we just didn't trust Dale Estey's motives or agenda, not to mention those of the charter school crowd who have thrown a ton of money behind Dale Estey despite her insistence that she doesn't support charter schools. But then, this wouldn't be the first time we suspected Dale Estey of saying one thing and meaning another.
Which is why I am enthusiastically voting for Sue Peters.