The political season was in full swing last Monday night at Ballotpalooza at Vashon High School, an event that raised more than $1,000 for The Riptide journalism students and provided islanders a chance to learn about the initiatives on the ballot and to hear from state senate candidates Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen.
The candidates, both progressives, addressed a range of issues posed by a panel that included two Riptide students and islander Craig Beles. In the hour-long debate, topics ranged from immigration and saving orcas to ferry service and health care, both at the state level and on the island.
The two candidates each made a case for themselves as the best senator for the island, sometimes drawing from their personal lives. In her opening statement Braddock, who is the deputy chief of staff for King County Executive Dow Constantine, noted she is a single mother of three children, including a girl adopted from Korea and a son who came out as gay at 16. She drew connections from her family experience to the current federal administration, which has attacked LGBTQ rights, women’s reproductive rights and civil rights. Washington state needs to stand up against those actions, she said.
“I want to fight for you. I want to fight with you. I want to stand up against this administration and for the 34th District and the communities within this district, including Vashon Island,” she said.
Joe Nguyen, currently a senior program manager at Microsoft, grew up in White Center and Burien, the son of refugees from Vietnam. He cited his “lived experiences” as one of the reasons he wanted to run for office. He shared that after an accident, his father became a quadriplegic, and he and his brother had to carry him up and down the stairs of the house for appointments until a neighbor saw the situation and recruited some friends to help build a ramp.
“That informs why I am doing this,” he said. “This community helped shape my values, it really helped raise me, and the reason I want to run is that people here came to my support when I needed it the most.”
Voice of Vashon recorded the event; it is now available online at voiceofvashon.org. The event happened too close to Beachcomber press time for a story for this issue, but an article will be posted later this week online. Ballots are due Tuesday, Nov. 6.