Candidates for Washington State Legislative District 48 Pos. 2, were invited to the First Baptist Church of Redmond for the first in a series of candidate forums held by the Education Hill Neighborhood Association on June 7.
Amy Walen, mayor of Kirkland and president of the Sound Cities Association, and Cindi Bright, owner of the management consulting firm The Bright Group and board member of the Seattle Urban League, discussed several topics regarding the legislature and statewide issues and answered a variety of questions submitted by the audience.
One of the big topics of the night was about homelessness, mental health and other social services. Walen said mental and physical health, along with addiction are illnesses that need more social services to help address them. In her work with the King County “One Table” task force, Walen said working with the juvenile justice and foster care systems are important to prevent those minors from ending up homeless as well.
“Breaking the cycle from the criminal justice system to homelessness to hospitals, this is very expensive for society it’s not the best service we can do,” Walen said. “Having our people sleeping on the street and being so ill should be unacceptable to all of us…it is going to take philanthropy, business and government working together and we are on the way to that cooperation I think.”
Bright also said that the areas of homelessness and mental health when it comes to race and gender are a primary concern for her. The demographic hit hardest by these issues, she said, are people of color and Bright wants to address the systematic issues that put people into homelessness. Through public and private partnerships she hopes to lead change in this area.
“I’m a business owner, we have businesses here that have profits in the trillions while people are sleeping under bridges,” Bright said. “There is a problem. We have a social responsibility to do something as a community. I want to lead that effort because it is affecting people that look like me, it is affecting people who look like my family.”
Responding to an audience question regarding changes the candidates would make to the quality of life of their constituents, Walen said she wants to focus on affordable housing, making transit accessible and firearm safety.
“I would work with other people; I would build coalitions; I would solve problems; I would learn and take action, advocate,” she said. “You move forward by working hard, finding common ground and then advocating for change.”
Bright said her goal would be to address inequality in employment opportunities. Her aim is to improve access to job opportunities for all people.
“We have Chinese, Asian, brown, black people in our constituency who are being considered not qualified for work and who are not being given opportunities in these corporations that are here in our backyard,” Bright said. “To improve the quality of life, my issue is to address the ecosystem that gives all people the same access, so that they have the same opportunity for a quality of life here that they are not being given.”
One audience member asked if there was a bill on any issue they would like to see passed. Both candidates didn’t have a specific bill in mind, but did speak to issues they felt were important to work toward.
Bright spoke about improving the diversity seen in the businesses of the state.
“I do believe that there is something that’s going to have to be introduced to legislation that is going to hold companies accountable to progress this. They’re not doing it on their own,” Bright said.
Walen said she would like to see work done around firearm violence, stating that she hopes that running for this position will allow her to make a change to the state of regulation around guns.
“We should require safe storage, we should require insurance. If you drive a car, it’s a dangerous object. You can do damage with your vehicle. You should have insurance of how you conduct yourself with your car,” Walen said. “We should require that for firearms.”
In their closing statement both candidates expressed their desire to represent the district in order to make positive changes to the lives of the constituents.
For the full video of the candidate forum, visit the Education Hill Neighborhood Association’s Facebook page. Their next candidate forum will be held on Thursday, Aug. 6, and will feature the candidates for the Legislative Districts 45 and 48 state senator positions.