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

Discussion on Rights for Pregnant Workers Fuels Candidate Forum

IMG_4291Vancouver, Wash. – Tuesday, June 21, 2016 – Today, Washington Community Action Network (CAN) held a candidate forum for candidates running in the 17th Legislative District at the Marshall Community Center in Vancouver.

“We wanted to connect with voters in the 17th district because of the exciting candidate races we have here,” said Washington CAN Political Director Mauricio Ayon. “This is an important election cycle in which the results could have a direct effect on issues that are a concern to residents in Clark County.”

Although all candidates running in Legislative District 17 were invited, participating candidates included Don Orange, Sam Kim, Tim Probst and Robert Frisina.

The forum was moderated by Washington CAN’s co-executive director, Mary Nguyen, who asked the candidates pre-determined questions. Candidates also heard stories and answered questions from community members about health care, economic justice, social justice and immigration issues and were able to address those concerns. Audience members were given signs depicting thumbs up, thumbs down and a waffle (for waffling) to let the candidates know how they felt about responses.

“The pregnant workers fairness act was introduced in Washington state in 2016 to protect pregnant workers by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations during pregnancy such as temporary reassignment to light duty, additional bathroom breaks and flexible schedules for prenatal appointments,” Nguyen told the candidates. “How would you as a lawmaker work to ensure women aren’t forced to choose between a healthy baby and a paycheck?”

“Providing reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities is a common practice,” answered Probst. “Reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers should already be on the books.”

“I would definitely support rights for pregnant workers as well as paid medical leave,” said Frisina. “These are our friends, family and neighbors and we need to find a way to give them the time they need.”

“Isn’t it amazing that we have to have a law to treat people with respect?” asked Kim. “Absolutely, we should accommodate people with disabilities and abilities. We should encourage every worker to be competitive and stay in the workforce as long as they can.”

“Not accommodating pregnant women is discrimination,” said Orange. “The state needs to come through with some useful guidelines, it’s critical.”

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, OneAmerica Votes, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest & Hawaii