VIDEO: 34th District State Senate candidates @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Voting for the general election starts in less than 2 weeks. The most hotly contested race on local ballots is for 34th District State Senator, with Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock emerging from an 11-candidate primary. The latest major appearance by both was at this past Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting in White Center; we recorded it on video and you can watch the unedited hour-and-a-half-long forum above. We’ve also noted key points in text below (after the jump if you are reading from the front page) – not full transcriptions, just excerpted points, but perhaps of interest if you don’t have time to watch the video or go see one of their upcoming appearances (listed below):

INTRODUCTIONS: Each got 5 introductory minutes. Braddock was born in Texas but her family moved to Bellingham when she was a toddler and she was there through college; after living in some other places, she moved to West Seattle 19 years ago. She’s a mom of three, 11-year-old daughter, 14-year-old son, 19-year-old son.

In the context of mentioning the day her younger son came home talking about an active-shooter drill, she mentioned that she’s for Initiative 1639 and even if it doesn’t pass, she said she would sponsor bills to be sure “each part of it” move forward. She also recapped her work history for County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmember Joe McDermott.

Nguyen talked about growing up in White Center – born in what’s now Seola Gardens but was then Park Lake – the son of refugees from Vietnam. He said they struggled in those early years but the community gave to his family, including building a ramp for his dad after a crash left him a quadriplegic. His family lived in Burien for a while and now Nguyen lives in West Seattle, a dad of two kids, 1 and 3. He talked about his career in technology strategy and job-training resources.

First question: NHUAC president Liz Giba showed data about the public-health discrepancies in the area, and North Highline residents having a life expectancy as low as 76 years old, six years below the lowest life expectancy for someone in West Seattle and asked the candidates if they believed it was an accident.

Nguyen said no, it is reality, and he experienced it growing up. “Certain parts” of the area need more attention.

Braddock also said no, it’s not an accident, and talked about the county using an “equity lens” that she believes the state needs to use as well.

Nguyen said more community representation in the decisionmaking process is important, especially with regards to cultural competence.

Second question, from NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin, was about low-income housing and whether it’s OK that more is being built in North Highline because land is cheap.

Braddock said no but also spoke about the challenge of displacement and how her campaigning brought her to many doorsteps where people said they would have to move. She also said that affordable-housing needs should be considered community by community, rather than one size fits all.

Nguyen said that land’s value needs to be considered as more than a price, but also what that land means to the community. He also espoused a holistic look at affordable housing – are services available? And he mentioned the importance of tax reform as seniors and others deal with rising property taxes.

Dobkin followed up by asking their opinions about the siting of affordable housing. Nguyen said it should be “all over the place.” Braddock said she supports “inclusionary zoning” as well as the Block Project, which seeks to site tiny houses in people’s yards as a “community-inclusive way to provide housing for homeless” people.

Next question dealt with gang violence, and recent Burien murders related to it. Is it related to poverty and a lack of opportunities? Yes, said Braddock, and the community needs to work closely with young people to fix that. Giving youth the option to learn about trades can help. “We can’t let up – we start to do this work … and then we take our foot off the pedal and we think the problem is solved,” Braddock said. Nguyen mentioned recently being at a Burien City Council meeting and noted that more money was being invested in policing than in youths’ futures. “We need to make sure we’re putting the emphasis on prevention,” he said.

Then a frequent NHUAC discussion topic, the state-allowed concentration of marijuana stores in North Highline and the robberies that have happened at most of those stores. “Concentrating in one area is not appropriate,” Nguyen said. He suggested the problem was again a lack of representation and an absence of leaders “pushing back.” Braddock said that while marijuana is legal because of an initiative, it was “clumsily” implemented. Both agreed that the allocation of tax revenues needs to be revisited to focus on communities’ needs.

Next, homelessness and how to help unsheltered people. Braddock noted that the crisis “has been building for many, many years” and told an anecdote about someone sleeping in her carport a decade ago while visiting his mother at a nearby care center. She said she supports 24/7 shelters – “navigation center” type shelters – and looking at “more surplus lands” for affordable housing/shelters. She says WSDOT is exempt from surplus-land review and would like to see that change. She also mentioned funding generated by a state document-recording fee and “protecting” that; Nguyen noted that it’s not generating what it used to and said it should be brought back to its former level. He also suggested tax incentives/credits for property owners who need it to fix up their property – provided they keep a certain level of affordability for tenants.

If they were elected, what would they do the rest of the time (given that legislator is a part-time job)? Braddock said she couldn’t keep her current job as it’s too demanding so she’d have to get something else. Nguyen said he’d be able to keep his job because his employer Microsoft had a paid-time-off program that would cover his legislative time.

An attendee question next: Candidates talk about supporting small business but don’t follow through, so does either candidate have small-business experience and what would they do to support such businesses? Nguyen said his family had run a billiard hall in White Center at one point and he saw firsthand the taxes that small business have to deal with; he said he’d like to abolish B&O taxes for small- and medium-sized businesses. He also observed that other costs, including health care, can be onerous for small-business owners too. And he spoke of supporting a friend who was setting up a business and needed help with other important things such as setting up a website. Braddock said that her family had some small businesses including a restaurant that lasted about a year, and she saw “the energy and the work” that went into running businesses. She suggested that the 34th District could have for example a “small business advisory committee” surfacing issues to her.

Another attendee question involved the difficulty of families being able to afford participating in sports and other programs. Braddock voiced support for helping with that and ensuring that families know about grants that are available. Nguyen mentioned his past involvement as a youth served by the local Boys and Girls Club and said he agreed that more funding was needed for youth programs.

Next attendee question: The Public Works Trust Fund, loans from the state to local agencies for local projects, and concerns about those loans’ availability. Nguyen said he’s not familiar with it but promised that he would fight for local needs. Braddock talked about coalition-building to evangelize support for that sort of need.

And another: A relatively new North Highline resident talked about property-tax breaks for seniors and wanting the eligibility level to expand. Braddock said that was another example of why tax reform is so important. She also said greater awareness is needed for already-available tax breaks. Nguyen also said a more-equitable tax structure – including a capital-gains tax – is important.

Asked about campaign contributions, Braddock defended accepting $750 from Coca-Cola and said she is not supporting the anti-tax Initiative 1634 that soda companies are funding. She said she can’t afford to self-finance her campaign. Nguyen said he can’t either but doesn’t take “corporate PAC money.”

Another question was from an attendee who said that anecdotally she’s noticing more teenage pregnancy and wondered about public-health services’ availabilities. Both candidates agreed the situation should be examined.

Next person asked about rent control. Braddock said “traditional” rent control didn’t seem to have worked but she would support lifting the ban so that local governments could explore “opportunities for innovation” in keeping rents down. Nguyen said he’s “for rent control” and supports strengthening tenants’ rights.

An attendee asked about the Washington Hospitality Association and its opposition to the $15 minimum wage. Nguyen said he “took a meeting” with the organization but was not looking for their money or endorsement. Both said they support the $15 minimum wage.

Next: Their positions on North Highline annexation – when, who, how to get there? Nguyen said residents should decide ‘where they go and how that looks.’ He said he personally favors Seattle but acknowledges it could lead to faster gentrification and displacement. “My family still lives here and they’re going to have a hard time staying here if prices go up any (further).” Braddock also said it’s up to the community and the county needs to do the best it can with the services it provides. She also noted that Seattle is the only city potentially pursuing annexation right now.

Asked about veterans’ issues, both mentioned veterans in their families and said it’s vital to ensure veterans can get the care they need.

An attendee who said she had worked in sexual-violence prevention asked what the candidates would do in that area. Braddock mentioned her proposal for consent education becoming part of health education in schools. Nguyen said he agreed and also wanted to strengthen laws and procedures related to assaults.

WHAT’S NEXT: Upcoming forums announced for both candidates include:
-Tuesday (October 9), Admiral Neighborhood Association (6:30 pm, Sanctuary at Admiral, 42nd/Lander)
-October 17th, Delridge Neighborhoods District Council (7 pm, location TBA)
-October 18th, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce (6:30 pm, DAV Hall, 4857 Delridge Way SW)

VOTING: November 6th is Election Day – get your ballot into a drop box by 8 pm or get it to the US Postal Service (remember, stamps no longer needed!) in plenty of time to ensure it’s postmarked by that date.

28 Replies to "VIDEO: 34th District State Senate candidates @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council"

  • Mike October 8, 2018 (6:30 am) <– more relevant than ever.

    • Mark Ufkes October 10, 2018 (11:44 am)

      Let’s make history; Joe Nguyen will be the first Vietnamese American to be elected from the 34th District and to the State Senate. He grew up here, is smart as a whip, and has a work ethic to match. He bleeds community values; grew up in White Center and Burien, and now lives in West Seattle.

      As a second generation immigrant, his family story, education, work at Microsoft, and beautiful young family, is a true American success story. Go find his videos on line to learn more about this amazing leader. Also, research shows that our young people, especially our families of color, need to see more examples of successful community of color leaders like Joe Nguyen playing a more influential role in our government.

      And Joe is not taking money from Developers or PACs, while Braddock is taking globs of money from Developers and PACs (because she and her handlers are so worried about getting beat by Joe) Our diverse community values are best served by Joe Nguyen as our next State Senator. It will be great to watch him become a leading force in state Democratic politics on behalf of our 34th District communities. Vote Joe Nguyen.

      Mark L. Ufkes

  • Moderate without a party October 8, 2018 (9:47 am)

    Clowns to the left of me, jokers on the right …

    • Liz October 9, 2018 (10:23 pm)

      You must be joking. These are two strong candidates. Braddock is my choice.

  • Ferryander October 8, 2018 (11:14 am)

    Once again we Shannon’s repeated pattern of playing fast and loose with the truth. While trying to back-pedal from taking coca-cola’s money, she failed to mention the additional thousands of dollars she has received from the Washington Beverage Association, Washington Beer and Wine Distributors Association, Association of Washington Wine and Spirits Distributors PAC, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits LLC, and others.

  • Ferryander October 8, 2018 (11:18 am)

    I find it extremely unlikely that Shannon “didn’t see the final product” before it mailed out. If this was a state-wide election, maybe. But a legislative race? No way. It was pretty disgusting the way she tried to blame staff for the error. True leaders own their team’s mistakes, in the words of Harry Truman “The buck stops here.”

  • Ferryander October 8, 2018 (11:23 am)

    Shannon says she supports the $15 minimum wage and paid family leave, yet she has accepted maxed out campaign contributions from the Washington Hospitality Association which spent tens of thousand of dollars to try and kill both the $15 minimum wage AND paid family leave.

  • Mj October 8, 2018 (11:33 am)

    Moderate – well stated. It’s extremely frustrating the polarization and the lack of civility by both the R’ s and D’s. Both Joe and Shannon are way to far to the left bordering on being socialists for my liking.

    • Jort October 8, 2018 (12:38 pm)

      Good news! There are lots of places you can choose to move if you don’t like living in a place where your neighbors overwhelmingly elect candidates like Joe and Shannon! Perhaps metropolitan Metalline Falls? Or maybe cozy Asotin?

      Until then, your neighbors want candidates like these. If they didn’t, they would have chosen somebody else out of the vast slate of primary candidates.

      Seattle is liberal. That’s not changing any time soon. And I’m certainly not moving to Alabama and then complaining about my neighbors’ voting choices.

  • Mark Schletty October 8, 2018 (11:56 am)

    Joe has a few positions I don’t support, but overall he is much better then Shannon. Shannon has been, and still is, in the pocket of big business and developers. Her donations this year and in her City Council race demonstrate their influence. She is a part of that faction of the Democrats that have been causing so much distress to those of us who prefer to keep a livable city, instead of a developer loving concrete jungle of high density without sufficient infrastructure or greenspace.

    • Liz October 9, 2018 (10:25 pm)

      This is such malarky. Shannon is a true progressive. She is a no BS person and will stand up for progressive policies.

      • Ferryander October 10, 2018 (9:54 am)

        Sorry Liz, a “true progressive” wouldn’t take money from corporations, charter school groups, and groups fighting to kill progressive policies like the $15 minimum wage and paid family leave.

    • KM October 10, 2018 (12:35 pm)

      Excited to note this day, when Mark and I agreed on something :-)

  • HTB October 8, 2018 (12:13 pm)

    I was incredibly excited for Joe Nguyen’s campaign as he comes from the tech industry. I feel that both the left and the right in this country are vilifying tech instead of celebrating it. Sadly, Joe seems to be more tied to the social justice left than the more pragmatic liberalism that you typically see from technology leaders – too bad.

  • Chris October 8, 2018 (3:36 pm)

    Shannon has far more individual contributors from people in the district than Joe. I am proud to be one of them. Business interests give to Shannon not because they expect her to do their bidding, but because they know they can work with her. Shannon is and always will be straight with her answers to anyone who asks her. Don’t buy campaign rhetoric from anonymous people like ferryander. Listen to both and you will see that Shannon is more prepared at this critical time.

    • Ferryander October 8, 2018 (6:47 pm)

      As Dow Constantine’s deputy chief of staff, part of Shannon’s job is to lobby the council on behalf of the Executive. As we all know, Dow and her former boss Joe McDermott were the two pushing the hardest to give the Mariners millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars. Care to explain why Pacific Public Affairs, who represent the Mariners, hosted a fundraiser for her at their office exactly one week before the $180 million handout was proposed?

    • Ferryander October 8, 2018 (6:52 pm)

      Additionally, both Joe and Shannon signed a pledge supporting a constitutional amendment to limit the influence of corporate PAC money in elections (you can view the pledge here yet Shannon has shown no problem taking money from the same interests she supposedly wants to stop from being involved in electoral politics. Really calls into question her integrity.

    • Ferryander October 8, 2018 (6:59 pm)

      Furthermore, if she does have more individual contributors then why take the PAC money? I have huge issues with someone who calls themself a progressive but then takes money from the people fighting against progressive change.

  • MJ October 8, 2018 (4:48 pm)


    Seattle used to be pragmatic center left, and it only recently last 3 or 4 years that it turned hard left.


  • John October 8, 2018 (10:13 pm)

    In the primary ballot voter’s guide, the first question asked about elected experience. Joe’s answer was “if elected I’d be the first legislator of color from the 34th”.

    While I am not opposed to greater diversity in elected officials, Joe’s stereotypical-politician dodge-the-question-with-an-irrelevant-answer response (multiple candidates in the primary were people of color, and the actual answer is no experience) is one of many reasons I’ll be voting for Shannon.

  • J.R. October 9, 2018 (6:21 pm)

    Hmmm. It seems Joe’s interest in politics and government is a very recent thing:

    • Ferryander October 10, 2018 (10:07 am)

      The same article states that Shannon missed a vote in 2013 so not sure what your point is? People miss votes all the time for a variety of reasons. that’s not nearly a good enough reason to disqualify someone. To your assertion that “Joe’s interest in politics and government is a very recent thing,” that is demonstrably false and really shows how little homework you’ve done on the candidates.

      Joe is the Chair of Wellspring Family Services’ Associate Board, which works on issues related to family homelessness and is committed to housing 2,000 children and their families in the next two years. Part of the board’s work includes advocacy, and Joe and the team were able to pass Wellspring’s first bill (HB2861) providing support for homeless youth impacted by trauma, which was signed by the Governor in the 2018 session.

      Joe is also an appointed member of the Community Advisory Committee for the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight in King County. Their work focuses on building bridges between community and law enforcement to achieve equitable policing. Joe was also a big part of the reason why the family of Tommy Le who was shot and killed by deputies with the King County Sheriff’s office were able to organize and get a meeting set up with the Sheriff and the community.

  • Hope October 9, 2018 (7:29 pm)

    I find this stream of vitriol comments to be off track and it feels like an attack ad is being run here. It seems like this comment section should be a place for people to support their candidate and discuss the debate but it has become a place to degrade their opposition. Feels too Trumpian for me. So I am going to talk about what a fantastic person Shannon Braddock is and why I believe she will do an amazing job as our State Senate Representative and why I plan to vote for her and so should you! Shannon has been my friend for the last gazillion years in West Seattle and she has shown me that she is trustworthy, hardworking and the kind of person you would be lucky to call your friend. She is a person with a strong character traits, like compassion, loyalty, fairness and countless others. I can’t even begin to count the number of times that she has helped me personally and our community! She has Volunteered on the Lafayette PTA, the Food Bank, and Westside Baby all great causes and all because she wanted to make a difference, again speaks to her character. Shannon has worked as a public servant for past many years at King County and she works tirelessly to keep the County a place that serves the greater need of the constituents. She takes her job very seriously and works her butt off because she truly cares about the community. There is not a topic you can’t discuss with her, for example the complexities of the homeless problem, or the juvenile detention facility or anything else you see as an issue. I hope that all of you get to know her before election day and see that she is truly worth your vote.

  • Mj October 10, 2018 (9:54 am)

    I listened to both candidates. Both came across as smart, hard working and qualified. My frustration is that both are too far to the left for my liking.

  • 34th-er October 10, 2018 (2:54 pm)

    Lots of cherry picking going on here from the PDC list of contributions to Shannon. No one or any entity can contribute more than $2000 directly anyway. Anyone who thinks a candidate who takes a $750 contribution will sell their soul to the devil is really naive or trying to discredit a working mom with three kids whose worked in her community for years, and still managed to vote in all the years she’s resided in this district. We need a person with integrity and experience. She’s got my vote. And, dudes, I’m so over it.

    • KM October 10, 2018 (3:55 pm)

      “Working mom of 3” when “person” or “community member” will suffice. Reminds me of when politicians use “working families” instead of “people”

      Time to revisit why we use this type of language to judge the value of a person.

    • Mike October 11, 2018 (6:15 am)

      Yes, why would anyone ever question one of the world’s largest corporations, with a headquarters on the opposite side of the entire country, giving donations to a very small regional candidate in Seattle. Nothing to see here, move along…move along, ignore all the other beverage related donations to her as well, close your eyes, ignore facts, just believe in the magical lady who tells you she’s doing right by you but continues to accept money from outside forces that will drive your tax initiatives and policy making.

Sorry, comment time is over.