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Caditz to run for Mercer Island School Board seat

Mercer Island School Board candidate Terri Caditz. - Elizabeth Celms/Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island School Board candidate Terri Caditz.
— image credit: Elizabeth Celms/Mercer Island Reporter

After a long career of volunteer involvement in the Mercer Island PTA, estate planning and probate attorney Terri Caditz decided to run for the Mercer Island School Board of Directors Position Two this November. She faces physician Dave Myerson in the election

Originally from Renton and married with two college-age children, the 20-year Island resident announced her candidacy on June 5, the last day that candidates were permitted to file.

Some in the community know Caditz from her work in leading the Mercer Island PTA Council from 2004 to 2006 and more recently as President of the Mercer Island High School PTA. Her involvement stretches back to 1997 when she was first selected as West Mercer Elementary School PTA co-treasurer. Others may remember her work in 2004 as a member of the Mutual Respect and Shared Responsibility Task Force, which worked to establish a more productive atmosphere for the district’s teachers, administrators and parents. In July 2009, Caditz stepped down from her position as MIHS PTA president to run for the School Board. The following are excerpts from a June 26 interview by the Mercer Island Reporter.

Q. Tell us about your background.

A. I’m the daughter of a teacher, so education is something that is very rooted in who I am. I grew up in the Renton School District, where levies were not being passed when I was growing up. [While attending Central Washington University] I had the opportunity — and this, I think, also influences me, even as I sit here today — I was an intern for the Washington State Legislature. I worked for a quarter for Rep. Helen Sommers, D-Seattle ... I worked [as a lawyer] in litigation and ended up working in probate and estate until I had my daughter. I have my own practice now.

Q. How did you become involved in the school district?

A. Giving my daughter a good education was important to me and education is important to me. I know, from having lived with a teacher, I know how hard teachers work. Since 2001, I’ve interfaced monthly [as a member of the Mercer Island PTA Council] with what’s been going on throughout the school district. I started out as a co-treasurer, and I’ve given a lot of time to the PTA and supporting our schools and kids, but I’ve also gotten a lot back because I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of amazing people and learn and grow. As a lawyer, you’re not necessarily working under that management style. I’ve learned a lot ... We have a really unique opportunity on Mercer Island to collaborate.

Q. Why are you running for the School Board?

A. As a PTA leader in our school community for the past 13 years, I have a record of looking out for the best interests of all children and families ... I’m not doing it because of popularity. I know it’s not something that you can maintain from making hard decisions. I think I can bring a lot of knowledge, experience and commitment from that time and continue to dedicate it to the schools and the kids here ... I want to do some sort of public service and want to stay involved.

Q. How is the School Board doing?

A. They’ve moved ahead with positive momentum, and I hope they can continue. I’m talking about what I’ve done and, actually, you’re sort of bringing up a point. Throughout all the time that I’ve been involved, I’ve seen a lot of things happen. Through all these things I’ve been doing, I’ve interfaced with [MISD Superintendent] Bill Keim, [Mercer Island High School Principal] Paul Highsmith, Cyndy Simms and the interim superintendent before her.

Q. Adding AP courses were once a big issue. Compared to the past, has that issue changed?

A. Absolutely. There was a painful period in our history here where there was divisiveness. These people went through the struggle by which, now, the rest of us have benefitted. We have moved forward in a positive way. Things seem to have settled into a more peaceful environment. I worked with Mary Lindquist and Simms on a task force to try to encourage everyone to work together to be positive and respectful. If there was anything that ever came again that was difficult and divisive, that’s a great model to use again.

Q. Earlier this year, the Mercer Island Reporter explored why the school district has held a number of meetings behind closed doors or held them in locations off-Island. Do you feel this is appropriate?

A. I believe that all meetings that [are] public meetings should be public. And if for any reason there’s issues that are being discussed that are appropriately closed, then I respect that as well. To be honest, I don’t know that much about those situations. I read about it, I heard about it. I don’t know what they were discussing. So I don’t have an ability to comment on whether I think the reason they closed the meetings was appropriate or not.

Q. Do you think executive privilege should be invoked on every occasion it’s permitted, as it appears the district has done?

A. No. But you have to evaluate every case on whether it is necessary. You have to ask yourself if the greater good is served by having it closed.

Q. Why did you decide to file for Pos. 2?

A. When I mentioned that I was interested in running for the School Board, I learned that John [DeVleming] was open to withdrawing from the race, and I made known my interest in running for the position. It’s one of those things that everything all falls into place and you don’t know why.

Q. How are you different from the other candidate in this race, Dave Myerson?

A. My background. My long commitment to the schools and my active involvement in various issues respecting the schools and the kids, going back to 2001.

Q. As far as the curriculum goes, Mr. Myerson thinks there should be a stronger focus on the students and their experience in the classroom. What is your opinion of how the curriculum is applied to students on Mercer Island?

A. I would be more interested in adhering to the role and responsibilities of School Board directors, which are to hire and work with the superintendent and creating policies. Not having served on the School Board, I can’t speak with knowledge about the things School Board members should be doing specifically. In general, though, I don’t think it’s appropriate for the School Board and members to be involved in interacting with, for example, the actual implementation of the curriculum, when that’s the job of administrators and teachers. I wouldn’t necessarily see that as my role.

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