Time for civility in the 43rd District — or time to take the gloves off? Dwarf warrior Chopp holds own in debate with Bluthulu Lascelles

A dwarf warrior vs. Bluthulu in the 43rd

Days before election results are announced — and with nearly 70% of ballots already returned in their district — state Rep. Frank Chopp and his third-party challenger Sherae Lascelles seemed to be agreeing on most policy issues in a Hillowee-flavored debate hosted by The Stranger Thursday night. The result for the online crowd Thursday night, anyhow, was a victory in the viewers poll for the incumbent Chopp — a possible prediction, he hopes, of the veteran lawmaker’s maintaining a connection with his Democratic base and resonance with at least a portion of its more progressive edges.

Both said they were in support of a head tax-like proposal for big business. Both said they wanted to enact “good cause” eviction legislation at the state level. Both said they were against fare enforcement. Both said they wanted to cap rent increases at 2%. Both said police officers were overrated and protesters demonstrating for the past 150 days were underrated.

And both said they wanted to ban high capacity magazines in guns and decriminalize sex work. Chopp said he wanted to tax capital gains at 10% and Lascelles said 5% would be a good starting point.

But they did notably diverge on one question not relating to policy that could say a lot about how they would govern if elected in the 43rd Legislative District.

Is this a time for civility in government — or is it time to take the gloves off? Continue reading

43rd District’s Chopp and Lascelles trade barbs over policing, racism, and ‘incrementalism’ in Seattle U candidates forum

With the election less than a month away and ballots set to be mailed out in just over a week, community advocate Sherae Lascelles criticized the incrementalism they see as epitomized by Rep. Frank Chopp, a Democrat who has served in Olympia since 1995, who in turn touted years of accomplishments in a virtual forum Monday evening.

When Chopp noted he supports a state income tax and laid out his past work on estate and big business taxes, Lascelles argued this past work doesn’t go far enough and called for taxes on capital gains and wealth, saying “we can’t just add the word progressive to a legislation and say that it’s actually enough.”

Lascelles, who represents the Seattle People’s Party, noted that their goals haven’t changed in the face of months of protests against police brutality and systemic racism because they see their campaign as already aligning with the movement.

“My priorities have always been with them because I am a part of them,” said Lascelles, a non-binary person of color. “I will bring the movement that impacts the municipal level and the county level to the state one. We no longer can just say the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ and do nothing and not have our actions speak as loud, if not louder, than our words.”

Chopp noted his work on the police accountability measure, Initiative 940, which passed in 2018 with 60% of the vote, but said that was only the beginning. He also called for the abolition of qualified immunity for police officers and changing collective bargaining agreements that allow law enforcement to skirt transparency. Lascelles pushed for divesting from the state Department of Corrections and reinvesting in communities of color.

“There is so much more we need to do,” Chopp said. “I will definitely actively sponsor and advocate for and push through legislation that would restrict the use of police force.”

Chopp, who served the longest tenure of any Washington House speaker from 1999-2019, described Olympia as the “most progressive Legislature in the nation,” but conceded “we’ve got to do a lot more and a lot more better things.”

“But we have a strong record of progressive legislation,” he said in an apparent attempt to pushback on Lascelles’s characterization of him as too moderate to represent the 43rd Legislative District, which includes Capitol Hill, Madison Park, and Montlake.

Lascelles, meanwhile, argued that “incrementalism kills folks” because of the difficulties disadvantaged communities face in accessing existing systems. Continue reading

43rd District forum: Chopp touts years of political experience, Lascelles calls for change of ‘political will’ in Olympia

The fundamental division of the race between state Rep. Frank Chopp and activist challenger Sherae Lascelles was brought into stark relief Thursday night during a virtual forum hosted by the 43rd District Democrats. The election is not just a referendum on policy proposals, but a question of what voters value more: a candidate in Chopp who was the longest serving House speaker in state history with extensive experience shepherding legislation or a candidate like Lascelles who has been the subject of decisions made in Olympia as a non-binary person of color.

So while there are differences between the candidates, like Lascelles bluntly calling themself an “abolitionist” while Chopp stops at saying he supports reducing police funding and funneling that money into housing and mental health services as well as independent oversight of law enforcement, the incumbent Thursday night focused on specific measures he has pushed in his 25 years in the state legislature, while Lascelles focused on how those policies affect people like them.

Thursday, Chopp called for a permanent extension of the statewide eviction moratorium implemented because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, lifting the statewide ban on rent control that has stunted local efforts to cap rent, and an increase in funding for affordable housing. Lascelles called these measures, which would face uphill battles in Olympia, a “great start.”

“We quite literally need to cancel rent and cancel mortgages,” Lascelles said on the Zoom forum to about 120 attendees. “It’s gonna hit us hard, it’s gonna hit us for a while. I’m currently living in precarity because I’m one of those individuals that without the eviction moratorium, I would be homeless again. It’s not enough to just delay the debt. That debt can cripple the entirety of someone’s future and life.” Continue reading

43rd District Dems to hold online forum in Chopp-Lascelles race

Mark you calendars for a virtual candidates forum Thursday night and a debate pitting incumbent 43rd District Rep. Frank Chopp against challenger Sherae Lascelles.

43rd Democrats Host Online Candidate Forum for State Representative Pos. 2 

(Seattle, WA) The 43rd District Democrats will host an online candidate forum on Thursday, September 10 with the general election candidates for 43rd State Representative Pos. 2: Representative Frank Chopp and Sherae Lascelles.

Event highlights:

  • Get to know the candidates ahead of the November general election and hear where they stand on important issues affecting the state and 43rd District.

  • Open to the public: All residents of Washington’s 43rd Legislative District are invited to attend, regardless of party affiliation.

  • Ask questions: Attendees will have the option to submit questions for the candidates ahead of time.

WHEN: Thursday, September 10, at 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. PT

WHERE: Online via Zoom and Facebook Live! This is a free event, but registration is required to receive the Zoom link. Please RSVP here. The form to submit questions will be included in the registration confirmation, and a link to the Zoom meeting will be sent out the day before.

ACCESSIBILITY: Please contact programs@43rddemocrats.org if you need any assistance joining or participating in an online meeting.

CHS reported here on the August primary vote that put Democratic Party veteran Chopp into a race with the political upstart Lascelles. A member of the Seattle People’s Party, Lascelles grabbed the second slot in the “top two” primary system. You can read more about their positions and campaigns here.

Politics through a pandemic: How the race to represent Capitol Hill in Olympia is shaping up in the summer of COVID-19

(Image: Elect Jessi Murray)

Jessi Murray was ready to start door-knocking.

The candidate for the 43rd Legislative District’s Position 2, representing the areas of Capitol Hill, Madison Park, and Montlake, had ordered her nametag and was prepared for the campaign’s first day of action with canvassing in late March.

But with social distancing restrictions and stay-at-home orders quickly levied in the state to stunt the COVID-19 pandemic, Murray and the rest of the field have had to recalibrate their campaigns on the fly to unprecedented circumstances as attention has partially turned away from politics to a global pandemic that has left hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians unemployed and killed over 1,400.

Murray first pushed the kick-off a couple weeks thinking maybe “this will blow over.”

“A week later, we were like ‘This is not gonna happen.’”

Murray’s first move was a big push toward digital campaigning, with weekly town halls on Thursday nights on various topics and some text-banking. The campaign has also invested more in targeted mailing campaigns, focusing on areas where voters may be more interested in a new candidate who fashions herself as running to the left of the longtime incumbent, Rep. Frank Chopp. Continue reading

Community organizer and sex worker advocate Lascelles joins challenge for Chopp’s seat in the 43rd

 Sherae Lascelles

(Image: Sherae for State)

Sherae Lascelles can trace their activism back to the third grade. A fellow student was sent to the hall after she “acted out of turn” in class. Lascelles talked to her on the way to the bathroom and she said she was hungry. So Lascelles pulled out some Red Vines and brought them to her.

This resulted in a confrontation with the teacher who was upset that Lascelles had brought the girl a snack.

“I learned quickly that I would have to advocate for myself at every turn to survive,” Lascelles tells CHS. “I didn’t even know why I felt like I had to do that, but I just didn’t understand the punishment and I didn’t understand how she was being treated and it didn’t make any sense so I put it upon myself to do something about it.” Continue reading

Jessi Murray: from SlutWalk and Seattle Clinic Defense activism to a challenge in the 43rd

(Image: Elect Jessi Murray)

When Jessi Murray decided to join the Amnesty International Club at her Massachusetts public high school, her twice-George W. Bush-voting dad said it would brainwash her.

Now, she’s running to unseat one of the most powerful political figures in Washington history in Rep. Frank Chopp, the longest serving Speaker ever who gave up that gavel last year. Murray’s race begins now with a run into the August primary with hopes of making it through to the general election in November.

Murray moved to Seattle in 2010 after attending the Olin College of Engineering, a school with about 350 undergraduates a year, and put down roots in Capitol Hill the next year. She works for a small tech consulting firm and wants to focus on “software for good,” but couldn’t talk about the project she’s working on now.

She has a long history of local activism, starting with Seattle Clinic Defense for Planned Parenthood and helping organize the Seattle SlutWalk in 2011, emboldened to work on issues of reproductive rights and sexual assault given her own experience with sexual assault before she moved here.

“There’s just been kind of a sense of trying to get to justice in this world,” Murray told CHS at Victrola Coffee and Art earlier this week while wearing a Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sweatshirt with the words “Fight for the things you care about” printed on it. Continue reading

In fight to head off state restrictions that would kill Seattle effort, Tax Amazon march will step off from Cal Anderson

Cal Anderson Park will again swing into action this week as a cradle of Seattle activism. Next Sunday will bring a Kshama Sawant-led March on March 1st to Tax Amazon starting at the park’s fountain and ending at the online giant’s downtown spheres:

Tax Amazon! March on March 1

“There is tremendous momentum to Tax Amazon, but big business is fighting tooth and nail to undermine our movement,” the rallying cry reads.

The rally and march follow a weekend victory for the effort to create a payroll tax on the city’s largest 3% of businesses in Seattle that would raise $300 million annually for housing and environmental initiatives. Organizers from the Tax Amazon campaign say their protest at a legislative town hall held Saturday on First Hill forced at least one key concession as Rep. Frank Chopp “was met with loud applause by community members” when he reportedly said he would “publicly oppose pre-emption.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s leaders in Olympia look ahead to 2020: capital gains, carbon tax, behavioral health, rent control ban, and the ‘Tim Eyman disaster’

Frank Chopp, Jamie Pedersen, and Nicole Macri

(Image: @43rdDems)

Coming into the 2019 legislative session in January after the midterms, Washington Democrats held hefty majorities in both chambers in Olympia, allowing them to pass progressive legislation that had been on the backburner for years with close margins or Republican control of the state Senate.

And Democrats passed a suite of legislation, including expanded higher education funding, increased renter protections, and a public option. But, despite the advantage, they still fell short on other policy goals, like clean fuel standards, banning high capacity magazines for firearms, and comprehensive sexual health education in the state’s schools.

So when the 43rd District legislative delegation — which includes Capitol Hill, First Hill, and other parts of the city — came to Seattle Central College Tuesday night to preview their priorities for the 2020 session, one of the lawmakers’ biggest pleas was to expand that Democratic majority through other parts of the state to make passing progressive legislation simpler.

The environment, gun safety, behavioral health, and housing, were some of the top issues for the delegation, made up of Sen. Jamie Pedersen, Rep. Nicole Macri, and Rep. Frank Chopp, who Pedersen called “speaker emeritus” given his extensive time serving as the top lawmaker in the House that came to an end in 2019. Continue reading

43rd District Democrats make move to Capitol Hill

Fresh off making “history” with the group’s endorsement choice in the Seattle District 3 race for City Council, the 43rd District Democrats are bringing their monthly meetings to Capitol Hill:

We’re MOVING! Our next general meeting will be on Tuesday, October 15 at 7pm at Seattle Central College.

Enter through the main doors of the college, go to the left, and we’re just down the hall — room BE 1110.

Be sure to RSVP going on our facebook event page! https://www.facebook.com/events/274492786568352/

In recent years, the influential political group has gathered in the University District for its meetings and endorsement sessions. Tuesday’s meeting will include two new resolutions — one a “Rent Control Resolution” and another “End Sex Work Arrests Resolution.”

The group meets every third Tuesday.

The 43rd was also busy in the neighborhood over the weekend canvassing for D3 Socialist Alternative incumbent Kshama Sawant in her race against challenger Egan Orion.

It’s not every election year you’ll find the Democratic-focused group working to get out the vote for someone outside the party.

In September, the 43rd voted to endorse Sawant, the first ever endorsement of a non-Democrat by the 43rd District group.

Ballots are slated to be mailed out Wednesday for the November 5th General Election. Thursday, the drop boxes open. You can find all of CHS’s Election 2019 coverage here.

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