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Candidates for the 7th congressional District Brady Walkinshaw (left) and Pramila Jayapal (right).

As the general election fast approaches, the International Examiner sent a few questions to local election candidates. We will be posting their responses in a series of posts leading up to the election. Candidates are placed in alphabetical order and the International Examiner does not endorse any candidate.

Ballots have been sent out and the final day to return ballots is November 8 on election day. King County residents can drop off ballots at designated ballot boxes by 8 pm on election day, including one at Uwajimaya in the International District.

Rep. Jim McDermott has represented Seattle’s 7th Congressional District in 1989, but decided this year to not seek re-election. The tough primary resulted in Pramila Jayapal and  Brady Walkinshaw competing in the general election. Both currently hold positions in the state Legislature, Jayapal as a senator for the 37th Legislative District and Walkinshaw as a representative for the 43rd Legislative District. Walkinshaw’s previous work has focused on human rights and environmental stability at the Gates Foundation and other non-profits. Jayapal founded OneAmerica and has focused her work on women, immigrants, and human rights. Jayapal did not respond to the International Examiner’s request by the time of printing. You can read Walkinshaw’s responses below.

International Examiner: A number of our readers are concerned about public safety. What do you intend to do at the congressional level to increase safety in neighborhoods of color?

Brady Walkinshaw: Every neighborhood and every family deserves to feel safe, and I believe we can do so much more to keep each other safe. First, we need to build bridges between our communities and leaders at every level to ensure that government is responsible and accountable. This includes supporting and pushing for commonsense reforms to end the epic of gun violence, especially since there are large racial disparities in gun-related violence and communities of color account for the majority of gun-violence victims. Additionally, we need reforms to foster more effective policing, where officers are part of the community that they serve and work to build trust. If elected, I will continue to work with agencies and organizations like the NAACP, ACLU, and The Leadership Conference and others to foster a community-driven agenda to make neighborhoods of color across our community safer. These organizations address the concerns of their communities, have done thorough research, and also propose legislation to effectively represent their communities. We know the problem, and each neighborhood and community of color deserves a seat at the table in building the solution.  

IE: There’s been an increase of racial tensions in political discourse and some people believe this is creating a toxic environment for people of all races. How do you intend to address this issue, if you plan to address it at all, if elected?

Walkinshaw: As a Cuban American, I have experienced the racial tensions in our political discourse firsthand, and I am horrified at the toxic environment it has fostered across the nation. If elected, I will champion civil rights and push for a more inclusive dialogue both in Congress and in our community. This means supporting the rights of all members of our community regardless of race or religion, and supporting and pushing for legislation that protects targeted communities. We need more of our Northwest values in Congress, and I believe that the inclusivity we stand for should be the norm in every community across America.

In State Government, I’ve effectively led efforts to build coalitions to pass key criminal justice reforms. The Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity brings down barriers for employment and housing for people with convictions in their past.  We know that there is widespread disparity in our criminal justice system.  That’s why I worked to pass legislation that creates alternatives for sentencing juveniles in order to broaden access to mental health and chemical dependency treatment.  I worked with BlackOut and the Black Prisoners Caucus in Washington State to hold hearings in our State’s Public Safety committee on the 2nd Chance Act and efforts to look at parole in Washington State.  These are issues I’ve championed and led on.  

IE: Lastly, anything you’d like our readers to know (about you, your campaign, etc…)?

Walkinshaw: I love the Northwest. I’m the son of a fifth generation Washingtonian who works in agricultural education and a public school teacher who immigrated to our country from Cuba.  I was raised in rural Whatcom county where nearly half my class didn’t graduate from High School.  I was lucky to earn a scholarship to Princeton University for college, and I’ve spent my life in some of the most impoverished corners of our planet from urban slums in Honduras on a Fulbright Scholarship to coffee fields in Ethiopia while at the Gates Foundation. I came home because I believe the unique values and innovation of the Northwest are exactly what our country needs.  

I’m a coalition-builder and that’s why the first thing I did in office was drive across the Cascades with my husband, Micah, to meet colleagues across the aisle in their homes — even when we share very different values. That’s because we need to build bridges to make progress. That’s how I passed major reforms to criminal justice and mental health in our state, and why I’ve been endorsed by over 60 state and local elected officials.

I have the strongest and most effective legislative record in this race, ranging from issues of mental health and criminal justice reforms to efforts to improve our transportation and housing investments, and I’d be honored to earn your vote.

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