Candidate Forum Moderated from Behind Bars of Clallam Bay Prison

Candidate Forum 1

Lakewood, Wash. – Friday, June 10, 2016 – Thursday, Washington Communication Action Network (CAN) held a candidate forum for candidates running in the 28th Legislative District. The forum was co-moderated by Willie Nobles, a black man serving a life sentence at Clallam Bay Corrections Center and focused on criminal justice and gender equity issues. Nobles also leads college courses in the prison. Sonja Pitts, a black, formerly homeless social worker, co-moderated at the forum.

“This district is specifically challenged with economic, mass incarceration and gender equity issues that can be difficult to navigate,” said Washington CAN Co-executive Director Mary Nguyen. “We wanted to give voters in that district a more in-depth look at their candidates to help make informed choices based on these issues that are most important to the community.”

Although all candidates running in Legislative District 28 were invited, participating candidates included Paul Wagemann, Anne Giroux and Marisa Peloquin. Legislative District 28 encompasses several Pierce County cities including University Place, Lakewood, Dupont and a portion of Tacoma.

Candidates were asked questions from the moderators and also heard from storytellers about social justice issues and were able to respond.

“What would you do to protect women’s right to choose when they have families?” Nobles asked over the phone from Clallam Bay.

“As a man, this is a very difficult subject. I believe life begins at conception. So, if that’s the case, how do I protect that life?” asked Wagemann. “I can’t make that decision. I have to allow that individual, their doctor and their family make that decision.”

“Somebody tried to rob me here in Lakewood and hit me very hard. I went to a hospital close by and I got a bill for $15,000,” said storyteller Marco Ramirez through a Spanish interpreter. “They sent me to a collections agency and take money from my paycheck. I stay in a shelter and live in a lot of fear.”

“We need to do the right thing and protect our own,” said Peloquin. “It will protect and save lives and our dignity.”

This candidate forum supports the Stand With Women campaign that aims to update the rules with the basic idea that women should be equal participants in society and have reproductive freedom, equal pay and policies that support pregnant women in the workplace.

Sponsors: Washington State Labor Council, Post-Prison Education Program, Washington Environmental Council, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Economic Opportunity Institute, Black Prisoner’s Caucus

Watch a video of the forum here:

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