Leslie Hamada, who has an extensive background in community service, is running for the Kent School Board.
Hamada, of Covington, announced her campaign in a Monday news release. She is running for Position No. 3, held by Board Vice President Debbie Straus, who was first elected in 2007. Straus defeated Hamada in the 2011 election but ran unopposed in 2015.
Kent School District’s Board of Directors have designated geographic areas, but are elected by all voters in the district and represent the district as a whole. Each board member serves a four-year term. The terms for Ross Hardy, Position No. 1, and Karen DeBruler, Position No. 2, also expire this year.
Candidates officially file May 13-17 with King County Elections. The primary is Aug. 6 (if there are more than two candidates for the seat). The general election is Nov. 5. So far, Hamada is the only school board candidate who has filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission and announced her campaign.
“As a mother and grandmother, I know how important public schools are, they are the backbone of our community,” Hamada said in her release. “I want our schools to provide challenging and appropriate education to all students, regardless of race, language, ability or economics. In order to do that we need to invest in our teachers, principals and staff so that they have the tools and skills needed to teach in the diverse, public school classroom.
“We must start by fully dismantling the budget of the school district and rebuilding the budget to more equitably fund our schools, our dynamic programs and support the front line employees in our district. I plan to spend this year listening to the students, families, educators and stakeholders across our community to build a list of objectives and initiatives that will best serve our kids.”
Hamada retired in 2011 after 32 years in sales, marketing and public relation jobs and has since focused on volunteering in the community.
For the past 10 years she has directed the Emergency Assistance program for the Kent United Methodist Church, helping lower income neighbors during times of crisis. She has served on the Interfaith Taskforce working on solutions to the issues involving and surrounding homelessness. She is a founding member of KentHOPE, a day center for homeless women and children.
Hamada, along with her husband, founded the Kent East Hill Boxing Club, an amateur boxing club for youth. The club focuses on promoting leadership, citizenship, conditioning, community service and the sweet science of boxing. For the past six years, she has been mentoring and tutoring kids in the Kent School District through the Communities in Schools of Kent program. In 2011, she was appointed to serve on the Covington Human Services Commission and is currently serving as the chair.
According to Hamada’s news release, she brings a long list of political endorsements into the campaign including State Sen. Mona Das, D-Covington; State Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington; State Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines; and Kent Mayor Dana Ralph.
Several groups have recognized Hamada for her community work, including the Spirit of Caring award from Catholic Community Services; the South King County Human Services award for her work in social justice and poverty; the Kiwanis Hometown Heroes award; and the Kent Reporter Citizen of the Year award.
For more information, visit LeslieHamada.com.