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.
Senator Pramila Jayapal, running for the 7th Congressional District
Both candidates in this race talk about making the 7th District a national leader. What is unique feature of the district that can serve to address a national problem?
We live in one of the most progressive districts in the country, which affords us the opportunity to lead on progressive issues. We also live in an area that is known for its innovation and tech industries, and the importance we put on taking care of our environment. Living in a city where so many people have a passion for activism allows us the space to build the movements necessary to create change. My work bringing people together in Seattle across progressive organizations and across the aisle to pass legislation on controversial demonstrates how I have the skills to champion these issues at the national level. I built movements with Seattle communities on issues such as immigration, climate, and police accountability. In addition, the ability to increase federal resources to address challenges that not only Seattle but major cities across the country are facing, such as transportation, infrastructure investment, homelessness and housing, are absolutely top priorities on the national agenda and we will have to work hard in a divided Congress to bring those solutions right here to the District. My work to build coalitions both here and nationally is the reason that I have garnered the endorsements of so many different sectors, as well as 20 members of Congress who will be absolutely essential to hitting the ground running.
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?
Trade is extremely important to the region. You can no more stop trade than you can stop migration, nor is either desirable. It is precisely because the 7th is the most trade-dependent district in the country that we must craft trade policies that foster a healthy economy, one in which both local businesses and workers thrive and that guarantees protections to our shared environment and public health.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said it best when she said we must ensure that civil society is at the center of any trade agreements, not investors. I will work to ensure that our trade policies are negotiated in the interest of communities across the 7th District by ensuring that both labor and environmental voices are at the table along with businesses. I do not support the Trans Pacific Partnership because it undermines worker and environmental protections, undermines local jurisdiction over those very protections at home, and gives too much power to multinational corporations, including around patent protection extensions that would limit the ability to provide essential life-saving drugs at affordable prices to those around the world who need them the most.
It is precisely because of my strong support from so many different sectors of the community, and my commitment to ensuring that the 7th Congressional District is a leader on crafting trade policies that benefit our state and our country that I believe I can play a unique role in ensuring we have fair trade agreements that benefit our economy, our environment, and our workers.
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?
I have been a long-time ally of the LGBTQ community and will continue to fight for full LGBTQ rights and work to include voices from LGBTQ communities in coalition-building on a broad set of relevant issues ranging from anti-discrimination in employment to health equity.
As a grassroots activist with One America, I pushed for LGBTQ equality by joining the coordinating committee of the Washington United for Marriage campaign. I brought together LGBTQ and immigration rights movements in the battle for marriage equality. Broadening the movement helped us create an even greater impact for change.
In Congress, I plan to join the Congressional Equity Caucus to pass the Equality Act and Every Child Deserves a Family Act and Every Child Deserves a Family Act. These pieces of legislation would establish protections against discrimination for LGBTQ people in employment, education, housing and adoption, among others.
I am so proud to have the endorsements of national and local LGBTQ leaders and organizations. SeaMec gave me a top ranking in the primary election, ranking me higher than my opponent in the general election, Brady Walkinshaw. I have won the dual endorsement of Equal Rights Washington for my longstanding work on LGBTQ issues. I also have been endorsed by numerous local and national LGBTQ leaders including (Organizations for identification purposes only): Locally: Danni Askini, Sarah Toce (Editor in Chief, Seattle Lesbian), Cuc Vu (Director, City of Seattle, and former Director of Diversity at Human Rights Campaign), Ray Corona (Commissioner, LGBT Commission, City of Seattle), Rita Smith (LGBTQ Leader); and many others. Nationally: Gautam Raghavan (former LGBTQ liaison to President Obama); Mara Keisling (Executive Director of National Center for Transgender Equality) and Rea Carey (Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force). For a full list of endorsements, please see the website: www.pramilaforcongress.com/endorsements.
Based on your skills and interests, in which Congressional committees do feel you would be most effective?
I currently serve on both the Health Care and Transportation committees in the State Senate and I would like to continue to serve on those two committees, as well as Judiciary (which covers both criminal justice and immigration policy). I have deep experience in health care, having fought for a single payer healthcare system that ensures access for all and having worked on expanding health care for families here and around the world through my work at PATH for many years, as well as locally on reproductive rights.
I also have been extremely privileged to serve on the Transportation Committee at a critical time, helping to ensure the best possible transportation infrastructure package that puts $15 billion into our transportation infrastructure in this state over the next ten years, creating 200,000 jobs across the state. My work on the committee was essential to ensuring that we did not allow for false choices around the environment and transit, and to modernize our transportation infrastructure while also promoting jobs and transitioning to a clean energy economy. As a State Senator on the Transportation Committee, I used transportation as as a pathway to promote jobs and reduce carbon emissions by investing in Washington State’s electric vehicle infrastructure and pushing for $5.25 million in pre-apprenticeship programs for women and people of color.
My work on criminal justice and immigration policy reform has a long track record, and I look forward to bringing that experience to bear on Judiciary.
Where is HIV on your policy agenda?
I got my start in Seattle more than twenty years ago, working for an international public health nonprofit. While there I helped implement health programs that expanded access to health care for women and families with a focus on preventive care through vaccine programs, diagnostics and lowering the costs of drugs to treat diseases. HIV/AIDS was a very important part of all this work. The loan fund that I was the director of at PATH funded many activities around HIV, including education and prevention through contraceptive social marketing program in Indonesia to prevent transmission; vaccine development; and other forms of education, prevention and treatment resources. I am committed to working for health equity for all communities. I have a track record as a grassroots activist and State Senator of working to expand health care access for women, families, and underserved communities with a focus on preventative care. In addition to supporting access to health care for people with HIV, the federal government must also invest in HIV research and development to combat and prevent the disease, and education programs to fight the stigma associated with HIV, while stressing the continued need for prevention and safe-sex.
It is also essential that we invest in more treatment and research, including both domestically and globally when less than half of the people who need antiretroviral therapy are receiving it. In 2015 there were over 2 million new HIV infections worldwide, adding up to a total of over 36 million people living with HIV.
I would support increased funding to combat HIV on a global scale and push to make America lead the way in achieving the 90-90-90 targets (90% of people with HIV to be diagnosed, 90% of the diagnosed to receive HIV treatment, and 90% of people receiving treatment to have an undetectable viral load) laid out by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, which scientists have said is necessary in order to bring the spread of HIV under control.
Click here to see Brady Walkinshaw's responses.