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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrK6oTO2Fk0

Chain Gang Protest Against Sen. O’Ban Highlights Voting Criminal to Women

IMG_4041 University Place, Wash. — Friday, May 13, 2016 — Community members led by Washington Community Action Network (CAN) protested Thursday in front Sen. Steve O’Ban’s campaign launch in University Place to call attention to his voting practices regarding women’s equity issues including reproductive rights, paid sick days and gender pay equity. Protesters dressed as a “chain gang” aimed to disrupt the event and inform attendees that O’Ban’s voting practices are criminal to women.

“As a community organization fighting for economic justice, Washington CAN recognizes that women are central to our families and our economy,” said Washington Community Action Network Co-Executive Director Mary Nguyen. “Senators like Steve O’Ban needs to expand health care access for women and trust that we will make healthy decisions for our bodies, family, and community.”

O’Ban, incumbent candidate of the state’s 28th Legislative District, has consistently voted against legislation that extends women’s reproductive rights including a bill in 2013 that would have required insurance companies to provide reproductive health services as part of the benefits they offer. He also sponsored a bill in the most recent session that would require minors to notify their parents of their need for abortion services.

“As a teenager, I was raped and had an abortion as a result of that crime,” said Washington CAN member MykleAnn Mora. “O’Ban’s proposed bill would have restricted the free choices teenagers deserve when they choose not to involve their parents.”

This protest 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.