UU Voices members are active in politics, and one of the most effective means of expressing their activism is attending candidate forums and getting to know the candidates’ views.
A recent example was the candidate forum for the Seventh Congressional District of Washington (Seattle and some surrounding suburbs), sponsored by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Cascadia Climate Action, and held at Ballard’s Peddler Brewing Company on Tuesday, October 4, 2016.
After Representative Jim McDermott announced his retirement, Brady Walkinshaw and Pramila Jayapal (both members of the state legislature) won the primary. Both are Democrats -- Washington primary system selects the top two candidates with the most votes, regardless of party.
Walkinshaw and Jayapal faced off in a debate that was attended by about 100 voters. On most issues – for example, criminal justice and poverty – their positions are almost identical. On one issue, carbon tax, the candidates differed.
Walkinshaw favors I-732, the carbon tax initiative, while Jayapal opposes it. Walkinshaw noted that I-732 is an action that we can take this year, while other proposals would take longer. He said that while I-732 is not perfect, it is a means of putting a price on carbon and addressing climate change, which is his highest priority.
Jayapal opposes I-732 because of equity concerns. She noted that communities of color and others had not been consulted in the drafting of I-732, and she had concerns that it would drain revenue from the state budget. Walkinshaw countered with the Sightline Institute analysis, which found “I-732 is revenue neutral, to the best of anyone’s ability to forecast it.” Jayapal said that there would be efforts by Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, labor unions and other groups to formulate a more equitable initiative in the future.
Based on the applause for each candidate’s views, most people in the audience appeared to be more sympathetic to Walkinshaw’s position on I-732 than Jayapal’s. Although she had the most votes during the primary, it remains to be seen if Jayapal’s position on I-732 will help or hinder her in the general election.