The candidates forum season around Capitol Hill kicked back into gear this week with a session Monday night at the Horizon House senior living facility on First Hill. It was easily the most diverse mix of two-party voters you might find around these parts. And, with a socialist on the bill, the diversity took on a third dimension.
Presenting at the event were Jim McDermott and rival Ron Bemis, Frank Chopp and rival Kshama Sawant, Jamie Pedersen, and attorney general candidate Bob Ferguson. Each had a printed name card marking their spot at the table — except for Sawant who had a folded piece of paper with her name written in like the 10% vote she yielded against Chopp in the primary.
Horizon House will be holding another forum in their performance hall on October 1st focusing on referendum 74, initiative 502, and senate joint resolution 8223 (allowing certain investments with UW). They will also hold an event on October 8th focusing on initiative 1185, initiative 1240, and a senate joint resolution to “phase down the debt limit” said the forum moderator.
The Q&A segment of the forum began hard and fast with a woman asking Bemis, “How would you plan to raise the money to begin paying off that (government) debt?”
“I will be your independent representative, I will shout at both sides left and right when they recklessly spend money,” Bemis said. The woman chuckled and said, “that didn’t answer my question,” to which Bemis referred her to his website for specifics
Another woman asked about Iran and what McDermott and Bemis’s positions were on the civil disorder happening in the region. “I have been opposed to going to war over Iran… We have to act in our own interest,” McDermott said. “Nuclear proliferation in the hands of particular terrorists is the greatest threat from outside,” Bemis countered before launching in on “Obamacare” and the partisan nature of politics.
Ferguson was invited by the forum moderator to talk about the attorney general position he is currently seeking, while he would not have a direct say in implementing initiatives he explains that he will act as the people’s attorney and represent the best interest of Washington voters. In response to a long question posed about the bank industry bail out, Ferguson replied, “I will go after powerful interests that do not play by the rules…there is a reason why my opponent (Reagen Dunn) is receiving maximum donations from Wall Street banks… they know he won’t stand up to them and I will.”
Pedersen, running unopposed, took his introduction time to voice his support for Chopp, “He has been the champion in the legislature of making sure the dollars that we have left are used to protect vulnerable people…he went to the mat to protect the disability life line and basic health plan,” Pedersen said.
Pedersen’s former opponent and new Chop challenger Sawant spoke very loudly. It was either a deft stroke given the demographics of the crowd or a tone more appropriate for Occupiers (who coincidentally were starting a week of activity marking their one year anniversary down the street). Regardless, her opening statement drew “woahs” from the crowd when she was done.
The evening ended with the candidates giving closing statements. Pedersen took the opportunity to ask the assembled voters to approve R-74 on gay marriage. He told the audience that he wants Washington “to become the first state, first place in the history of our world where the voters say we want to treat all families equally.”
Horizon House is located at 900 University.