This year GSBA is extending our Candidate Forum programming to our blog and asking select races to answer a series of questions from our Public Policy Task Force. GSBA does not endorse candidates for office. Both candidates in this race have been sent an identical questionnaire.
Representative Brady Walkinshaw, running for the 7th Congressional District
Both candidates in this race talk about making the 7th District a national leader. What is a unique feature of the district that can serve to address a national problem?
We live in one of the most innovative, economically vibrant, forward-looking parts of our country. Because of the national relevance of our community in the central Puget Sound, our 7th Congressional District is a district that can and should lead over the long-term. With an effective and dedicated federal partner, our District can model what it means to grow an urban center with equity and environmental sustainability.
As urban centers have grown and led the way on innovation, they’ve also become increasingly unequal and struggled with the lack of federal partnership on issues from environmental sustainability to homelessness to transportation to small business development.
In Congress, I’ll be the federal partner to our community so that we can tackle the immediate issues we face both at home and nationally. This means reinvestment in a mental health system that we’ve systematically divested from for over 40 years. This means a federal response to homelessness. This means ensuring that Seattle receives the federal transportation support over the long-term to innovate on areas from high-speed to rail to basic infrastructure. And finally, this means that we lead the way in the shift to a low-carbon economy. There are 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives but there is only one, whose job is to serve our home in the Northwest. As we build long-term leadership in Congress from our home, our innovation and our values in the Northwest can move to our country’s mainstream.
The 7th is the single most trade-dependent district in the country. The Port of Seattle alone generates over 216,000 jobs, $9 billion in personal income, and nearly $900 million in state and local taxes. How will you work to support the economy of the 7th District in Congress?
We do live in the most trade dependent Congressional District in our country. Our maritime industry alone generates 30% of Seattle’s tax base. I’m running for Congress exactly because of these aspects of the Northwest. Our employers – large and small – in Seattle and the central Puget Sound contribute to a region that is poised for growth for a long time to come.
Click here to read Pramila Jayapal's responses.
In the State legislature I have been a partner to groups like the Washington State Convention Center to support the expansion in Downtown Seattle. I’ve worked with employers and the GSBA to pass important criminal justice reforms that create employment opportunities for people as they reenter society after incarceration. I’ve worked to secure important transportation investments right here in the central Puget Sound in the State’s Transportation Revenue Package. And, I’ve worked alongside arts and cultural institutions in our community from the construction of the new Burke Museum of Natural History to the renovation and expansion of Pike Place Market. We need a federal partner who will be locally focused and who’ll work alongside our community to support our growth.
In Congress, I will continue this record of partnership. With a long-term partner, we’ll be able to make investments in our community that support our economic growth and tackle equity. I’ve promoted these values on our campaign, for example, by designating a staff member solely to small business outreach.
Federally, I will support minimum wage policies, paid family leave, affordable childcare tax credits, and other policy measures that will extend policies that are already in place in Seattle and work to move these into the country.
The 7th District has one of the highest percentages of LGBT people in the country. How will you address the particular needs and priorities of our community?
Our community is what first inspired my involvement in politics and public service. This is an area where our District can lead. I will always show up for our community, and that’s been my approach in Olympia. Representation from our own community in elected office is vital to advancing and protecting our rights and our priorities. I would be the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress elected from Washington State and the first LGBTQ Latino member of Congress nationally.
I’m honored to have the support of the Congressional Equality Caucus, several LGBTQ members of Congress, including Fmr. Congressman Barney Frank. Locally, our LGBTQ colleagues in the Washington State Legislature support our campaign: State Sen. Marko Liias, State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, State Rep. Christine Kilduff, State Rep. Joan McBride, and State Rep. Jim Moeller. Our campaign is supported by numerous leaders across our LGBTQ community.
In the State Legislature, I’ve translated these values to results. Last year, I worked to secure state funding to improve the experience of LGBTQ youth in the foster care system. As Vice Chair of our Early Learning and Human Services Committee, I worked alongside Rep. Ruth Kagi to pass the Homeless Youth Act. I’ve openly supported the certification efforts for LGBTQ majority-owned businesses and I would support these designations in Congress for federally awarded contracts.
In Congress, I will stand up and lead for our community. We need to pass the Equality Act, we need to prevent discrimination in the workplace, we need to ensure that healthcare coverage provides for all members of our community, we need to tackle youth suicide and homelessness, and we need continue to build our representation across the country in places where LGBTQ equality lags far behind.
Based on your skills and interests, in which Congressional committees do feel you would be most effective?
I would be interested in serving on the Committee for Transportation and Infrastructure. As we look to the future of our region, we are in immediate need of partnership. Transportation and Infrastructure plays an essential role in addressing issues from housing and homelessness to climate change.
Where is HIV on your policy agenda?
I was pleased to join so many others at Lifelong’s End AIDS Walk again this year. The federal government needs to move forward a strong agenda to end HIV/AIDS. Research institutions right here in the Puget Sound will be critical to achieving this. Specifically: We need to provide sustained federal funding through NIH and NSF to support institutions right here, like the Hutch, to deliver on the innovative research programs that are already making strides. There are many important innovations that can come from the Northwest to either develop a vaccine or find other cures.
The ACA was an important step to support people living with HIV/AIDS to have continued coverage and stability while moving between employers. We need to ensure that future federal healthcare policies provide coverage for people living with HIV/ AIDS. At home, institutions like Bailey Boushay have been at the forefront of providing care, especially for the complex cases. We need to ensure that federal medicaid reimbursements meet the needs of providers in our own community so we can continue to provide the levels of care that are necessary.
Finally, we need to continue to work to end stigma. I would join a handful of my colleagues in Congress to call for an end to the 30-year federal ban on blood donations from men who’ve had sexual contact with men within the past 12 months. Our healthcare policy decisions should be guided by science and not stigma.