On October 6 and 7, Bellevue College hosted a Legislative Candidate Q-and-A from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. so students could ask the candidates questions about issues pertaining to them.
Each session had a mix of Republican, Democratic and independent candidates so as to offer students a variety of answers to their questions. Ramiro Valderrama, Darcy Burner, Michael Appleby, Michelle Darnell, Ronda Metcalf and Patty Kurderer were present on Thursday, while Friday’s panel consisted of Paul Graves, Lisa Wellman, Chris Reykdal, Mike Mullet, Steve Litzow and Marty McClendon’s campaign manager who spoke on McClendon’s behalf.
A variety of topics were brought up during these sessions, ranging from changing labor to rehabilitation in jails and juvenile facilities as well as preventing youth from being locked up in the first place to the availability of reliable and experienced surgeons who can correctly perform a chest surgery for transgender people. Some of the candidates hadn’t even heard of the issues a few of the questions brought up. “That’s why it’s good to go to these events,” said Mullet. “It’s because you definitely have things brought to your attention that you weren’t aware of.”
One of the more prominent issues discussed in these Q&A sessions was the topic of college funding and textbook prices. Students said that they wanted to make textbooks more accessible or at least be able to be able to get some of their money back when returning textbooks. Darnell said that she would support the idea of students getting their money back. “Students have no choice in the matter,” she said regarding the purchase of textbooks. She also said that she wanted college libraries to have enough of each textbook to check out so that enough students could complete their coursework without having to buy a book.
The other candidates had similar statements and Metcalf said that she also wanted to be able to give colleges licenses for electronic versions of textbooks which would cost less than physical textbooks.
Many of the candidates talked about how they wished there would have been more people at these events and more youth who voted. “I think it’s so important to get especially young people involved,” said Wellman. She went on to say that she is advocating for a service that will automatically register people to vote once they turn 18. “We need to get people in the process and habit of voting,” she said.
Mullet talked about ST3 and said that if the bill is passed, Bellevue College will get a light rail stop. “If Bellevue College wants their light rail stop, they better get engaged,” he said.
As well as less youth voting in general, less people vote at the state level than at the national, according to Burner. “It is really easy to get excited about and invested in the presidential race,” she said, “but in the terms of your day-to-day lives, it is likely more important to what happens to you, who you send to the state legislature.”
She as well as the other candidates encouraged youth to get involved in their daily lives by being informed about politics at the state level and voting in state elections. “It’s the local communities and the local representatives that are making the difference in your life,” said Wellman. “Pay attention to them.”