From the left, Shih, Pitchford, Macri, Sameer, Forbes, and Courtney (Image: King County Young Democrats)
The candidates running to represent the 43rd Legislative District agree. When it comes to specific policy positions, there are few notable differences between them. While the first debate of the race was hardly confrontational, it did offer a chance to see candidates respond to questions on the fly and under pressure.
Seven candidates are vying to represent the 43rd district in Olympia, which includes Capitol Hill north of Madison. The six Democrats in the race gathered Sunday evening for a Democrat-sponsored debate at Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum (the seventh candidate, John Eddy, was not invited as he is running as an independent).
Prior to last week, the race was perhaps most notable outside the 43rd for the possibility of electing the first trans woman to public office in Washington state. Since Danni Askini dropped out Friday, the field of candidates remains refreshingly diverse. Still, there is only one woman in the race, which prompted co-moderator Michael Maddux to ask the men how they would add diversity in the Legislature.
The “two straight white dudes” in the race, Scott Forbes and Marcus Courtney, said the race should come down to values and both said they have long supported LGBTQ and women’s rights issues. As the former chair of the 43rd District Democrats, Forbes positioned himself as a well seasoned political insider and the candidate who would do the most to build Democratic party power. In a candidate field filled with progressives, Courtney, a longtime tech industry labor organizer, struck a more populist tone when calling for an end to corporate loopholes and decrying income inequality in the state.
Nicole Macri, the only female candidate in the race, was asked about the importance of electing women to public office, particularly when the 43rd District has not had a female representative in a decade. “It’s more than just the experience of being a woman,” said the long time advocate for the homeless and low income housing. “It’s the experience of being marginalized by the dominant society that is relevant.” Continue reading