VIDEO: 14 questions for 34th District State Senate candidates @ Delridge District Council/South Seattle College forum

The ballots are in the mail. The ballot dropboxes (including the brand-new one in The Junction) open today. What you’ll see on your ballot includes only one contested, open local seat: 34th District State Senator. Last night was the second-to-last West Seattle forum for the two candidates who survived the 11-candidate primary. Above, our video of the entire forum, presented by the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council (in place of its regular monthly meeting), at and with South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) on Puget Ridge; below, our notes with key points – NOT full transcriptions – from the candidates’ replies to the 14 questions asked at the forum (including some “different ones!” as they observed with some measure of delight).

DNDC chair Mat McBride hosted. After his introduction, at 4:30 into the video, both candidates begin with introductory remarks. Then – the questions.

First question from DNDC member Pete Spalding of Pigeon Point springboarded off the early-morning crash and what can the state do about the problems related to the homelessness situation.

Nguyen said that it’s not a monolithic problem – family homelessness, for example, has domestic violence as a leading cause. He noted that the state’s Housing Trust Fund “had been slashed during the recession” and that was a challenge in terms of affordable housing. He said preventing homelessness is vital – it costs less to help someone stay housed than to help them get back into housing once they lose it.

Braddock said that the spotlight is on the importance of partnership in dealing with the problem and coming up with solutions for this “incredibly complex” problem. She too said the Housing Trust Fund needs to be brought back to strength, and she wants to look into flexibility with the document-recording fee. Mental-health services are important, she said, as is potentially using public lands for affordable housing.

Second question was from Highland Park Action Committee chair Charlie Omana, who wanted to know about plans to combat gang activity.

Braddock observed that gang affiliation is often driven by what’s missing in the community, so working on resources and job opportunities can help – the type of programs available at SSC, for example, and apprenticeships that would allow people to live and work in their communities. Caseworkers in schools, too, for intervention.

Nguyen observed that for example, in the city of Burien, 50 times more is spent on law enforcement than on prevention-type resources. Give kids a safe place to go and hang out, he suggested, as well as educational opportunities, which differ depending on where you live. Representation – a more diverse teaching corps, for example – is important, as is engaging communities “in a respectful way.”

Third question: What can you do to alleviate traffic?

Nguyen noted that both he and his opponent “take public transit quite often.” Multimodal opportunities can be key, he said. He said legislators should work with Sound Transit to “get (light rail) here faster.”

Braddock echoed that – pushing for it “as quickly as we can get it” – and looking at “infrastructure funding (to fund) both trails and roads.” She said there’s not enough funding to fix failing bridges and for projects such as 509, so federal partnership is important. She said she wants to be on the Senate Transportation Committee so that she can work on issues, ferries included.

A 17-year-old attendee talked about mental-health and substance-abuse issues among his peers and asked how the candidates would help with that.

Braddock honed in on the pervasive anxiety of our times and said mental-health counseling in schools needs to be supported as well as overall behavioral-health availability. Helping kids as young as 5 with trauma can pay dividends for society as well as the children themselves.

Nguyen talked about ensuring that young people have opportunities to fit in culturally and mentioned the “White Center to the White House” internship program that the WC Community Development Association offers. The questioner said he was part of that.

Fifth questioner wanted to know about ideal policies for dealing with people struggling with IV drug use.

Nguyen said he supports safe-injection sites. He said acknowledging addicts’ humanity is important as is offering resources.

Braddock said she too would support safe-injection sites, as places not just to use safely but to build trust with people who can help you toward recovery. “Recovery often doesn’t work the first time,” she observed, but that opportunity needs to be available “over and over.”

Sixth question asked if either was endorsed by an environmental group.

Braddock said Washington Conservation Voters have endorsed her and that she supports I-1631.

Nguyen said his campaign had “the most environmental endorsements.” He spoke about environmental equity/justice. He too supports I-1631.

Seventh question was about taxation and funding.

Nguyen began by noting the state’s regressive tax structure and saying he supports a capital-gains tax as well as an income tax, while reducing sales and property taxes, and abolishing B&O taxes for smaller businesses. Corporate tax breaks need to be revisited, too, since unlike voter-approved levies, “they never expire.” He also supports the idea of a state bank.

Braddock said she too supports a capital-gains tax and reducing property and sales taxes. She said she supports “B&O tax reform” but is concerned about eliminating it entirely so she’d like to see it applied to “gross revenue, not to everything that comes in.”

Eighth question was about the education-funding crisis.

Braddock said tax reform is needed for a more-stable funding source. She also wants to be sure state decisions are made through an equity lens – that includes what kind of PTA support a school has been able to muster.

Nguyen recalled using school-provided health services as a child. He said he’s also aware of the issue because his wife works in Highline Public Schools as a teacher. And state budget prioritization is vital, he said – “if we can support corporate tax breaks, we can support (schools).”

Development was the topic of the ninth question – providing affordable housing, ensuring traffic isn’t overloaded as a result, and that it’s not all for outside investmen.

Nguyen cited transit-oriented development as important. He said he supports more density and favors mixed-income communities such as Seola Gardens (where he lived as a child when it was Park Lake).

Braddock said she’s seen the changes in her 20 years in the area and supports planned growth and growth management – community feedback for decisionmakers needs to be part of the process. She too supports transit-oriented development and spoke of her father and his partner living near transit on Capitol Hill.

Tenth question: Another one from Omana, who said he recently visited Paris and found it too dense. He was worried about for example encouraging employers to move closer to where people live.

Braddock agreed that there’s not enough advance planning going on. And she agreed that economic development should be a component of planning.

Nguyen said public-private partnerships can assist with the goal of getting businesses closer to residential neighborhoods, but observed that current zoning might get in the way of that. “Dispers(ing) zoning” would help, he said.

Eleventh question: What about gentrification?

If businesses owned by people of color move, they seldom come back, observed Nguyen, so finding ways to help them stay is key. He said developments like Greenbridge “are pretty cool” in supporting multiple income levels. Equitable school funding can help, too.

It’s a “super-challenging issue,” agreed Braddock. Affordable housing can help people from being displaced. Inclusionary zoning can be supported by the state.

Twelfth question: What about transit lanes, toll roads, etc.?

Braddock opened, “I support tolling,” and said she supports the sort of implementation that’s been executed lately on state roads – test periods to see how it’s affected other routes. She also supports bus-only lanes.

Nguyen noted that tolling equitably is important and said he’s in favor of bus-only lanes too, also mentioning his support of a state bank as something that might help finance infrastructure needs.

13th question, from Spalding: How would each work with for example Eastern Washington senators in Olympia?

Nguyen said he believes they have more in common than not: “there are common grounds we can work toward” – with “a caveat.” The 34th, though, is the most liberal district, but also has a precinct that went more Trump than anywhere else in the U.S. (on Vashon, he said), so that has to be respected too, He hopes for a “blue wave” supermajority to enable “progressive” gains. He said he doesn’t want to compromise on “health care for all,” tax reform, etc.

Braddock said that working with people of different perspectives and differently opinionated districts is absolutely going to be a factor in Olympia – even working with other types of Democrats. She said that her current job with King County has involved working with people of different political philosophies.

14th question was from McBride himself: He mentioned the Freedom of Information Act exemption controversy last legislative session and wanted to hear how the candidates saw what had happened.

“It’s very clear they screwed up on that one,” said Braddock. She said she understood that some of it was meant to fix problems but other parts involved exemptions and she didn’t agree with that.

Nguyen cited the importance of building trust with the community.

Then it was time for closing comments. If you missed this forum – tonight brings one more, presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and open to all, 6:30 pm doors/6:45 pm initiative discussion/7 pm forum, at the DAV Hall (4857 Delridge Way SW).

7 Replies to "VIDEO: 14 questions for 34th District State Senate candidates @ Delridge District Council/South Seattle College forum"

  • A October 18, 2018 (12:22 pm)

    Both are in favor of “safe” injection sites. First of all, the word safe is an absolute joke because there is no safe way to inject heroin into your body. Secondly, braddock says these sites are a place for addicts to build trust with people who can help them with recovery. So allowing someone to shoot up heroin in front of you is helping them with recovery? Let’s call these places what they really are and that’s heroin injection dens. There’s nothing safe about them and it is ideas like these that contribute to the thousands of homeless addicts that flock to this city. If you were a heroin addict why would you not come to Seattle? We do everything we can to accommodate you. Our local politics is completely out of touch with reality

    • Nick October 18, 2018 (1:34 pm)

      I think they are benefical as i see people shooting up regulary downtown on my way to work police and public health officials could at least push them to the safe injection sites to reduce public IV use and they also could also possibly ask for assistance with treatment and it prevents people from overdosing in the street. The whole city is an injection site I think this is a good way to try and get it off the street cheaper than jailing them. Also if you haven’t noticed and police don’t waste time arresting addicts

  • Rick October 18, 2018 (1:12 pm)

    But you’re in Seattle.

  • Mike Gilmore October 18, 2018 (10:28 pm)

    Looking forward to a Nguyen on Election Day!! Vote Joe!!

  • Ivan Weiss October 20, 2018 (6:03 am)

    Braddock supports tolling. Let’s repeat: BRADDOCK SUPPORTS TOLLING! If that doesn’t disqualify her, I don’t know what would.

    • 34th Believer October 21, 2018 (9:13 am)

      I have heard Joe say more than once that we supports tolls as well so I guess that leaves you without a candidate to support, Ivan.

  • Anne October 21, 2018 (9:05 am)

    Joe also said he supports tolling at the same event. Let’s repeat. JOE SUPPORTS TOLLING. (So do I, for the record. Let’s have an honest conversation).

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