Debbie Winskill

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Debbie Winskill
Debbie Winskill.gif
Tacoma Board of Directors
Term ends
November 2019
Years in position 26
Board President
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 5, 2013
First electedNovember 1989
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sUniversity of Puget Sound
Place of birthTacoma, Washington
Office website
Ballotpedia's school board candidate survey
Debbie Winskill is an at-large member on the Tacoma Public Schools Board of Directors in Washington. She was first elected to the board in 1989. Winskill won re-election against challenger Dexter Gordon on November 5, 2013.


Winskill earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Puget Sound. She has been a lifelong resident of Tacoma and helped raise 24 foster children. Winskill also has five children and nine grandchildren.[1]



See also: Tacoma Public Schools elections (2013)


Winskill ran for re-election for an at-large seat on the Board of Directors against Dexter Gordon.

Election results

Tacoma Public Schools, Position 1, Six-year term, November 5, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDebbie Winskill Incumbent 55.4% 21,661
     Nonpartisan Dexter Gordon 44.6% 17,414
Total Votes 39,075
Source: Pierce County Elections, "November 5, 2013 General Election, November 26, 2013</ref>


Winskill reported no contributions or expenditures to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.[2]


The Bellingham Herald endorsed Winskill for the November 5, 2013 board election.[3]


Winskill won a fourth term on the board after a contested primary and general election. She finished first ahead of Elly Claus-McGahan and Stan Smith on the August 21, 2007 primary ballot. Winskill defeated Claus-McGahan in the November 6, 2007 general election.[4]

Tacoma Public Schools Board of Directors, Primary, 2007
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDebbie Winskill Incumbent 47.3% 10,952
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngElly Claus-McGahan 30.6% 7,079
     Nonpartisan Stan Smith 22.2% 5,138
Total Votes 23,169
Source: Pierce County Elections, "August 21, 2007 Primary," September 5, 2007

Tacoma Public Schools Board of Directors, General, 2007
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDebbie Winskill Incumbent 59.2% 21,181
     Nonpartisan Elly Claus-McGahan 40.8% 14,597
Total Votes 35,778
Source: Pierce County Elections, "November 6, 2007 General Election," November 26, 2007

Campaign themes


Winskill provided the following statement for the 2013 Local Voters' Pamphlet in Pierce County:[5]

"I am seeking re-election to the Tacoma School Board to build upon our many accomplishments, and to further the primary goal of the success of all of the students in our community: their academic success, and their success as productive citizens in the future. All of our students, whatever their backgrounds, have a right to expect the best education possible. We must offer rigorous options for advanced students, classes that engage our reluctant or challenged students, and clear paths to high level achievements for every student, whatever his or her starting point.

I endorsed the District's recent reintroduction of sports at the Middle School level. I believe that strong extracurricular programs help keep many of our young people in school.

We have strongly increased and enhanced our programs in the arts, sciences, and mathematics. I am a proponent of the principle that these programs be available to all of our students.

Last year, we became a State-designated 'Innovative Zone,' and are providing creative new ways to deliver quality education to all Tacoma students, with parental input into that process.

My every decision is a decision for my own children and grandchildren, as much as yours."

Note: The above quote is from the candidate's website, which may include some typographical or spelling errors.

What was at stake?

Winskill ran for her fifth term on the board against challenger Dexter Gordon for an at large seat.


The Board of Directors will try to balance budget cuts in the most recent budget with the district's role as an innovator. The 2012-2013 district budget featured cuts totaling $4.5 million from the 2011-2012 budget with most cuts coming from regular instruction.[6] Board members will try to maintain the district's role as an Innovation Zone, a title bestowed upon the district by Superintendent Randy Dorn in 2012. The district features 12 schools that are considered innovative out of 33 schools throughout the state.[7]

A 3-0 vote by the Board of Directors in September 2013 approved the district's letter of intent to become a charter school authorizer. The district hopes to follow Spokane in taking advantage of a 2012 statewide initiative that allows a limited number of charter schools to be created by 2017. Members Karen Vialle, Catherine Ushka and Kurt Miller supported a letter of intent to the Washington Board of Education while Winskill abstained and Scott Heinze was not available for the vote. The Board of Directors voted unanimously prior to Initiative 1240 to oppose charter schools in Tacoma because members believed that charters would contribute to decreased funding for existing schools.[8]

About the district

See also: Tacoma Public Schools, Washington
Tacoma Public Schools is located in Pierce County, Washington
The City of Tacoma is the county seat of Pierce County, which is located along the Puget Sound in western Washington. The population of Tacoma was 198,397 according to the 2010 U.S. Census.[9]


Tacoma lags behind state averages for median income, higher education achievement and poverty rate. The percentage of city residents over 25 years old with undergraduate degrees (24.3%) is below the state average (31.4%). The 2010 U.S. Census calculated Tacoma's median income at $49,232 while the state median income was $58,890. Spokane had a poverty rate of 17.1% in the 2010 U.S. Census while the state rate was 12.5%.[9]

Racial Demographics, 2012[9]
Race Tacoma (%) Washington (%)
White 64.9 77.3
Black or African American 11.2 3.6
American Indian and Alaska Native 1.8 1.5
Asian 8.2 7.2
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 1.2 0.6
Two or More Races 8.1 4.7
Hispanic or Latino 11.3 11.2

Presidential Voting Pattern[10]
Year Democratic Vote (%) Republican Vote (%)
2012 54.4 43.3
2008 54.9 42.8
2004 50.4 48.0
2000 51.4 44.0

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin rather than a race. Citizens may report both their race and their place of origin, and as a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table may exceed 100 percent.[11][12]

Recent news

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