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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 21, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 43
7th District Congressional candidates reveal differences
Section One
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7th District Congressional candidates reveal differences

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Pramila Jayapal and Brady Walkinshaw, vying to fill the 7th Congressional District seat being vacated by veteran Rep. Jim McDermott's retirement, revealed clear differences in their October 13 debate at the Seattle Central Library.

While both candidates come from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, they displayed some sharp contrasts in focus.

Jayapal showed herself to be the most likely to continue in the tradition of Jim McDermott, who was often criticized by conservatives for involving himself in broad national and international issues.

'Let's be clear: United States Congress is a national position,' Jayapal said. 'How do you deliver at home while also being able to articulate the values of this country?'

Jayapal reinforced her position as a national figure on October 15, when she appeared at a Seattle rally with Bernie Sanders. She is one of a handful of progressive congressional candidates Sanders has endorsed and is campaigning for.

'Pramila and I have some news for Donald Trump and his billionaire friends - you are going to start paying your fair share of taxes!' Sanders told an enthusiastic crowd at the Showbox theater.

'We need dozens of Pramilas in the United States Congress, because when you speak up and fight for justice, what seemed impossible suddenly becomes mainstream when you have the courage to fight for those ideals.'

In contrast, Walkinshaw emphasized his hometown-boy credentials.

'I'm running because of our extraordinary home,' he said in the debate. 'We need members of Congress who are rooted in their communities.'

When moderators asked the candidates to question each other on one specific issue, Walkinshaw challenged Jayapal on her campaign contributions from outside the district. Some 70% of her donations come from outside the 7th District, he said, and her home is outside the district.

Jayapal asked Walkinshaw how he could reconcile his environmentalist positions with his work with the Gates Foundation, which has been criticized for not divesting in fossil fuels.

The two candidates also clashed on I-732, the state carbon tax initiative.

Walkinshaw supports the measure, but Jayapal said it would burden families with increased gas prices, pull funds away from education and health care, and reduce state revenues.

Environmental groups are split on the initiative, with the prestigious Sierra Club refusing to back it. Labor unions, which have lined up behind Jayapal, are also opposed to it because they want more money to help workers in fossil fuel industries transition to new jobs.

Walkinshaw promised that if elected he would try to lead on climate change, homelessness, and mental health. He said he would promote a comprehensive federal homelessness package for cities.

Jayapal said her top priorities would be immigration, women's issues, and increasing the federal minimum wage. She said she would work on passing comprehensive immigration reform.

When asked which of his endorsements he was most proud of, Walkinshaw named primary rival Joe McDermott. In a subtle reminder that she far outdistanced both Walkinshaw and McDermott in primary votes, Jayapal replied 'my 79,000 primary voters...'

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