POULSBO — North Kitsap School Board member Cindy Webster-Martinson, the first enrolled Native American elected to public office outside of Tribal government in Kitsap County, is leaving the school board when her term ends this year. But she said she may consider running for office again in the future.
Webster-Martinson moved to a different director district than the one from which she was elected; state law allowed her to finish her term, but she could not run for reelection from her old district. She now lives in the district represented by Bill Webb.
Webster-Martinson, an elementary program interventionist with the Suquamish Tribe Education Department, was elected to the school board in November 2013. She served as vice president of the board and legislative representative.
Webster-Martinson said she enjoyed serving on the board. She said her greatest accomplishment was helping refine the operating guidelines and policies for the North Kitsap School District. She also noted her graduation from the Washington State School Directors Association’s Leadership Program. In 2016, she helped the school district’s Equity Council receive $1,000 in grant money from the WSSDA. According to the school district website, the Equity Council works to ensure equitable access to all district programs.
The school board grappled with some controversies during her term. In explaining to a student the difference between the word “Negro” and the “n-word,” Poulsbo Elementary School’s principal used the actual “n-word” more than once and was required to take sensitivity training. Parents were upset that they were not notified in a timely manner about sexual activity on a bus for students with special needs. Parents were also upset that they were not notified in a timely manner about problems with a school’s HVAC system that caused an evacuation and gave some students headaches. The superintendent received a vote of no confidence from the teachers’ union.
Webster-Martinson declined to comment, saying some of those issues are still being discussed and that she is not in a position to comment.
But she and her colleagues also saw some successes. Among them: Kingston High School was ranked 23rd, and North Kitsap High School was ranked 27th, in Washington state in U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 list of the nation’s best high schools. The rankings were based on college readiness, math and English proficiency, and Advanced Placement test results.
Webster-Martinson, a member of the Suquamish Tribe, said she’s proud to be the first Tribal member to be elected to public office outside of Tribal government. She hopes her service helped open doors for other Native candidates to run for office.