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Race for the 43rd: What CHS heard at the LGBTQ business candidate forum

Nicole Macri and Dan Shih at Wednesday's forum. (Image: CHS)

Nicole Macri and Dan Shih at Wednesday’s forum. (Image: CHS)

The 43rd District state House seat has been held by a LGBTQ representative longer than any other elected office in the U.S. No matter the outcome in November, that legacy will continue with either Dan Shih or Nicole Macri, who both took questions at an LGBTQ-focused candidate forum Wednesday night on Capitol Hill.

Longtime radio host Deborah Brandt moderated the event at Harvard Ave’s Erickson Theater and posed questions from Seattle’s LGBTQ chamber of commerce, the Greater Seattle Business Association.

When asked what he would do to support the 43rd’s LGBTQ community in Olympia, Shih said he would work on expanding protections within the foster care system and for seniors at assisted living facilities, who Shih said are often forced to “go back in the closet” as they age.

With years of experience in homeless housing policy, Macri said she would focus on ensuring LGBTQ youth had equal access to homeless and healthcare services. Macri said she would also work to reinstate a real estate document recording fee that funds homeless projects statewide.

As a board member of API Chaya, a nonprofit that works with immigrants who are victims of domestic violence, Shih said prosecutors should receive special training on how best to handle a wide range of domestic violence situations. “We need to recognize populations are not monolithic,” he said.

Macri said police should undergo a similar training to better respond to domestic violence situations involving LGBTQ victims.

No candidate forum for the State Legislature can go without a question on how the state will meet its education funding obligations under the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. The court found in 2012 the state was violating the Constitution by not fulling funding teacher salaries. Both candidates support a high earner capital gains tax to close the gap. “New revenue, new revenue, new revenue — we have to say it over and over again,” said Macri, who also floated the idea of ending all state subsidies as a last resort to engage republicans.

In the August primary, Macri won 52% of the vote compared to Shih’s 25%, although Shih has maintained a strong lead in fundraising since the start of the race.

With many in Seattle seeking answers for what can be done about the city’s homeless crisis, Macri offers a wealth of experience. She has been a leader in supporting housing first policies, one of the key recommendations of a trio of recent reports recently commissioned by the city, and is a deputy director at Downtown Emergency Service Center.

As a trial lawyer by trade, Shih has touted his experience fighting against corporate malfeasance as proof of his ability to understand complex issues and fight the good fight. Shih is also a board member at Washington Sate ACLU and a nonprofit supporting domestic violence survivors.

Brady Walkinshaw also made an appearance at the GSBA forum in his bid for the 7th Congressional District. His opponent, Pramila Jayapal, was out of state at the time.

Walkinshaw told attendees he wanted to bring Seattle’s progressive ideals to the halls of Congress. He also touted his work in the state Legislature, including passing legislation that strengthens involuntary commitment guidelines. The so-called Joel’s Law was named after Joel Reuter, who was shot and killed by police in 2013 on Capitol Hill while suffering from mental health issues. “I remember that day,” Walkinshaw said.

Walkinshaw narrowly made it through the top two primary when he edged ahead of King County Council member Joe McDermott in late ballot counts. He will still have his work cut out for him as Jayapal took a commanding lead with 42% of the vote.

If Walkinshaw, a 32-year-old gay Cuban-American who lives on Capitol Hill, is elected in November, he would be the first openly gay member of Congress from the state and the first Latino Democrat from Washington elected to a federal office.

Jayapal, a first-term senator serving the state’s 37th District, has collected endorsements from many elected officials including 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, LGBTQ leaders, and representatives of other progressive organizations. Jayapal is vying to become the first Indian American woman elected to Congress.

Tina Podlodowski, the Democratic challenger for Secretary of State, told attendees she wanted to make ballots postage free and streamline the state’s business incorporation process. Secretary of State Kim Wyman did not attend.

Two candidates for Superintendent of Public InstructionErin Jones and Chris Reykdal — also took questions from the GSBA. Both said children should be exposed the LGBTQ issues as early as kindergarten. They also agreed that schools should support kids who are transitioning gender whenever the children and parents are ready.

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