Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock (Susan Riemer/Staff Photo).

Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock (Susan Riemer/Staff Photo).

State senate candidates debate on Vashon

Last week, as part of Ballotpalooza at Vashon High School, state senate candidates Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen participated in a debate that included close-to-home topics, such as ferry service and health care and broader topics ranging from immigration to campaign financing.

The Oct. 22 event included a panel of three, Craig Beles and students Clara Atwell and Mari Kanagy, asking the questions. The information that follows is a sampling from the hour-long debate.


“What being a progressive means to me is standing up for women’s rights and equal rights for women because … we live in a sexist society,” Braddock said.

She mentioned the gender pay gap, limited access to childcare care and the “motherhood penalty” as issues that need to be addressed.

She also mentioned lower income communities and communities of color who have often suffered the effects of bad governmental decision-making, leaving them behind.

“Being progressive means to me addressing those issues and addressing those issues through good policy,” she said.

Nguyen responded, saying the things he cares about and fights for are single-payer health care, progressive tax reform and public education.

“The way we live those values is we stand for workers, and we stand for working families,” he said. “At the end of the day, it is how you live your values in addition to what you say you are going to do.”

Money in politics

Nguyen spoke emphatically about the corrupting influence of money in elections, noting his campaign does not take any funds from corporate PACs.

“I want to prove to everybody there is a path to win elections without having to take outside influence money,” he said.

During her turn, Braddock said the problem is particularly significant at the federal level, noting that she believes Citizens United must be overturned.

“We absolutely must have campaign finance reform,” she said.

With the current system, she stated that candidates can self fund and pay the debt off in the end of the campaign if they have the means to do so, which she said is also a policy she would like to see overturned.

She added that not all PACS are the same, citing the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which is a type of PAC that she said could have a positive influence.

Ferry service

Braddock, who said she would fight to get on the transportation committee, said actions at the state level could be helpful, such as reviewing performance standards for Washington State Ferries and implementing new ones to make sure the route is as efficient as possible.

She said she would like to see updated technology, referencing the former bypass lane, with WSF staff in booths and with scanners all processing vehicles.

“The fact that somehow that did not work and we gave up on that so quickly feels like a fail in my opinion,” she said. “We should be able to get four cars through at a time as we are dealing with navigating the ferry system.”

Nguyen referenced the previous Friday night, when a boat was down and there were three- to four-hour waits, while weekend travelers contended with the route on a two-boat schedule.

“I am 100 percent in support of making sure we have the funding to get more ferries, new ferries, and also fixing the Fauntleroy ferry dock,” he said, noting that ferry service is one of his campaign’s priorities.

He added that many changes will be in the long-term because they involve substantial funding, but he said he believes there are steps that could be taken in the short term to improve service, such as installing a stoplight at the Fauntleroy dock , improving vehicle processing systems and supporting additional modes of transportation, such as the foot ferry, to help take pressure off WSF.

Local health care

Nguyen’s campaign recently sent out a flier, stating he will “fight to fully fund a second medical center on Vashon.”

During the debate he noted that funding is allocated for health care in rural communities, but income levels are too high for Vashon to qualify, and he would like to change those provisions.

He mentioned people’s difficulty in recent months in getting medical treatment for urgent medical needs at the clinic, saying he believes urgent care services could be “built on top of or next to or consolidated with” Neighborcare.

“It’s an urgent issue we need to take care of right away,” he said.

For her part, Braddock said she has primarily heard concerns about Neighborcare’s financial shortfall and the need to ensure access to preventative, primary care.

“If we want to talk about urgent care opportunities, if we want to talk about other ways to address medical issues on the island, I would certainly want to talk to the community about that and how we would prioritize those dollars,” she said, calling it a “huge lift” just to keep Neighborcare running.

Education funding

Both candidates addressed the fact that Vashon is receiving less money than many other nearby districts, from “regionalization” funds.

“The state senator will need to fix that immediately in the next session,” Braddock said.

She added that she is also concerned about the McCleary decision’s cap on levies, as that cap will limit local districts’ options on where they invest their dollars.

Regarding Vashon’s regionalization funds, Nguyen repeated a point he had previously made.

“Good policy fails with bad implementation,” he said.

He stated that his wife is a teacher in the Highline district, and each year they buy basic classroom supplies with their own money.

“This is a situation that is far from being resolved, and there is much more that needs to be done from an equity standpoint and to close the opportunity gap,” he said.

To hear the debate in full, see

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