By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
Ballots for the November 5 general election landed in our mailboxes two weeks ago. Every odd-numbered year, we have an “off-off-year” election, when our ballots are made up mostly of races for local offices, with a few regional judgeships and statewide ballot measures in the mix.
These off-off-year elections don’t necessarily stir the drama that are features of campaigns for statewide or federal offices, especially in times of heightened polarization and 24/7 media. Yet their importance to the Jewish and broader communities cannot be overstated.
With this in mind, I am proud to report that the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has endorsed Referendum 88 / Initiative 1000 to help combat discrimination in Washington State. One of the central tenets of Judaism is justice. We are commanded, “Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof – Justice, justice, you shall pursue.” In our tradition, we are called upon to not merely respect or follow justice, but to actively pursue it. The repetition of the word “justice” emphasizes the importance of this value.
Voting “yes” on Referendum 88 will solidify voters’ support for affirmative action for veterans, disabled and elderly individuals, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and women in public employment, education and contracting, while barring the use of quotas and preferential treatment. We hope you’ll join the Federation in supporting equity, diversity, justice, and inclusion, by voting “yes” on Referendum 88. You can learn more about the measure here.
Jewish values also are critical for weighing issues that are front and center in local government. People who serve on city and county councils, on school and other special-purpose boards make decisions that significantly impact the lives of our families, neighborhoods, and our Jewish community. Public safety, the education of our children, our quality of life, what we do to help the less fortunate … for all of these critical issues, we turn first for answers to the public servants who run our local governments.
To help Jewish community voters who live in Seattle, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s government relations team sent a questionnaire to all 14 candidates running for the seven Seattle City Council district seats at stake in the election. We asked each candidate three questions about critical issues that have strong relevance to the Jewish community and are informed by Jewish values. The questions included:
As a Seattle City Council member, what will you do to deepen understanding of antisemitism by the community and by yourself personally, and how will you work to combat hate and bias against the Jewish community in Seattle?
Homelessness and Housing Insecurity
What specific legislation will you propose or support to address homelessness and housing insecurity in Seattle?
Immigrants and Refugees
What will you do to ensure that Seattle is a safe, secure, respectful, and welcoming place for immigrants, refugees, and asylees?
All 14 candidates answered our questionnaire! That’s a testament to the impact of the Jewish community on local and state public policy. Take a look at their responses, even if you don’t live in Seattle, to get a sense of the candidates’ stances on some of the issues that matter to our community.
If you’ve already sent in your completed ballot, thank you! If you haven’t, be sure to get yours into the mail no later than Tuesday. No need for a stamp! Or, you can return your ballot to a handy drop box by 8 pm on Tuesday. Your vote is your voice. Make it count!