Dexter Gordon

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Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon Candidate.jpg
Tacoma Board of Directors
Former candidate
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 5, 2013
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sJamaica Theological Seminary
Master'sWheaton College
Ph.D.Indiana University
Campaign website
Dexter Gordon campaign logo
Dexter Gordon was a candidate for an at-large seat on the Tacoma Public Schools Board of Directors in Washington. He lost to incumbent Debbie Winskill in the November 5, 2013 general election. Gordon campaigned to improve graduation rates and encourage innovative approaches to teaching.


Gordon received his B.A. from the Jamaica Theological Seminary in 1984. He later earned a M.A. from Wheaton College in 1991 and a Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1998. Gordon is currently a Professor of Communication Studies and African American Studies at the University of Puget Sound.[1]



See also: Tacoma Public Schools elections (2013)


Gordon ran for election to the Board of Directors for the second time. He faced incumbent Debbie Winskill in the general election held on November 5, 2013.

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>


Gordon reported $43,809.53 in contributions and $41,240.49 in expenditures to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission, which left his campaign with $2,569.04 on hand.[2]


Gordon's campaign website listed the following endorsements for 2013:[3]

  • Pierce County Democratic Central Committee
  • The 27th Legislative District Democrats
  • Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland
  • Tacoma City Councilman Ryan Mello
  • Audrey Alande
  • Monica Alexander


Gordon first sought election to the Position 3 seat on the board during the 2011 election cycle. He placed first in the August 16, 2011 primary against Scott Heinze, Andrew K. Milton and Betsy Elgar. Gordon lost the general election to Heinze on November 8, 2011.[4]

Tacoma Public Schools Board of Directors, Primary Election, 2 year term, 2011
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDexter Gordon 44.8% 8,420
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngScott Heinze 40.3% 7,572
     Nonpartisan Andrew K. Milton 14.9% 2,805
     Nonpartisan Betsy Elgar 0% 0
Total Votes 18,797
Source: Vote, "Pierce County Elections," accessed December 6, 2013

Tacoma Public Schools Board of Directors, General election, 2 year term, 2011
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngScott Heinze 51% 20,809
     Nonpartisan Dexter Gordon 49% 20,012
Total Votes 40,821
Source: Vote, "Pierce County Elections," accessed December 6, 2013

Campaign themes


Gordon's campaign website listed the following priorities for the 2013 campaign:[5]

  • Provide our students with every opportunity to learn and succeed.
  • Improve our graduation rates.
  • Empower our teachers for meaningful and innovative teaching and learning.
  • Manage budgets and resources for accountable systems and creative solutions
  • Advocate for keeping the vision of quality public education alive for all students.

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

What was at stake?

Debbie Winskill ran for her fifth term on the board against 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 Debbie 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, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages.[11]

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See also

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