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July 21, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 29
 
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Books, busses, budgets dominate debate between 43rd District Dems
Books, busses, budgets dominate debate between 43rd District Dems
by Liz Meyer - SGN Contributing Writer

Given the 43rd Legislative District's demographics and political history, Tuesday night's Town Hall debate between the six Democratic candidates vying to win the district legislative seat could have very well emphasized LGBT specific issues.

For almost twenty years, the district, which consists of Capitol Hill, Wallingford, Fremont, and several other neighborhoods with high LGBT populations, has placed a Gay lawmaker in the state House. The late Cal Anderson, Washington's first openly Gay legislator, won the district seat in 1987, and Rep. Ed Murray has served in the position for the past 11 years.

But while some have predicted that the candidates' ability to court the LGBT vote will weigh heavily in their success at the primary polls, the candidates themselves seemed eager to speak at more length about such issues as transportation, education, tax reform and health care than ones like marriage equality.

Candidates Lynne Dodson, Dick Kelley, Jamie Pedersen, Stephanie Pure, Bill Sherman, and Jim Street spoke on a variety of topics, perhaps in an effort to differentiate themselves. The debate's moderator, former Seattle City Councilmember Heidi Wills, suggested in her introduction that the candidates' apparent agreement on several issues may make them virtually indistinguishable to 43rd District constituents.

Kelley also spoke of this apparent parity between the candidates, saying, "Choosing which candidate is really just rearranging the deck chairs." However, he also touted himself as "the only candidate with experience working in State government."

Kelley, the former Regional Director of the US Department of Health and Human Services, is campaigning upon reducing the power of special-interest groups in political campaigns.

Sherman, a former aide to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and a King County Deputy Prosecutor specializing on domestic violence cases, spent much of his allotted time speaking about his experience as an environmental advocate.

"What we leave for our kids and grandkids in our community says everything about our values. We've got to send a true champion of environmentalism to Olympia," Sherman said.

Meanwhile, Pure called upon her experience working under Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck and in co-founding the Vera Project, an all ages music venue. She stated that education would be among her top priorities.

"I'm running to make sure every student has a shot at a good education, everyone has access to healthcare, and everyone is treated with dignity and respect," said Pure.

Dodson, a community college teacher and co-chair of Washington State Jobs With Justice, challenged Pure's ability to secure the money necessary to fund the types of improvements in education Pure said she'd like to see.

"We can talk all we want about how we need to increase salaries, but if we don't fund those salaries, it doesn't happen. Appropriations ensures that people actually get money," said Dodson.

Dodson and Pedersen, a Lambda legal lawyer and the only Gay candidate, share the 43rd District endorsement from SEAMEC (Seattle Metropolitian Elections Committee), a Seattle-based group that ranks candidates according to their commitment to LGBT issues.

Pedersen mentioned his role in helping PacMed clinics overcome bankruptcy, as well as his work with marriage equality, as potential political strengths.

Additionally, Pedersen spoke of the need for tax reform, stating, "We can convince people to pay more in taxes as long as we can convince them that it's money well spent."

Finally, Street, a former Seattle City Council President and Superior Court Judge, spoke of revamping Seattle's transportation system, and "substituting intervention for incarceration."

Street also spoke of his dedication "&to ensur[ing] an individual's right to control the fundamentals of his or her private life."

Rep. Murray called upon his successor and state voters alike to reach across party lines.

"If we can get Bellevue, Bellevue who voted for Al Gore, Bellevue who voted for John Kerry, to elect two new Democratic senators to the State senate, we will have a working Democratic majority in the Senate," Murray said.

The primary election takes place on September 19, and the Democratic candidate who wins in the overwhelmingly liberal 43rd District will almost unquestionably win in the general election.
 

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