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Meet the candidates for Rep. Jim McDermott's seat

Amy Radil
Candidates include two state legislators, a county council member, and a former mayor.

The campaign to replace retiring Congressman Jim McDermott is getting off the ground in Seattle. Most of the candidates for the seat held their first debate Wednesday at the University of Washington.


Nine candidates have filed to replace Jim McDermott in the Seventh Congressional District, which includes Seattle. All five Democrats and one independent candidate for that seat came together Wednesday. They gave voters a sense of the first thing they’d do if Democrats gained control of the U.S. House in November.  

First to speak was state senator and former community organizer Pramila Jayapal.

Jayapal: “For me, getting immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reform done immediately so we can bring 11 million people out of the shadows – that bill is ready to go, it passed the U.S. Senate, I actually worked on that bill. It passed with 67 votes so we are ready to move that right through the house and bring that forward.”

Arun Jhaveri is the former mayor of Burien. He’s also worked as a scientist with the Department of Energy.

Arun Jhaveri: “My primary objectives as a congressman would be to make sure we implement the global climate change treaty that was passed in Paris, and secondly to make sure that campaign finance reform is completely done so we do not have corruption of political activities by financing from outside sources.”

Campaign finance reform is also the top priority for Joe McDermott [no relation to Jim McDermott], who has served in the state legislature and now chairs the King County Council.

McDermott: “We need to overturn Citizens United and we have to address our broken campaign finance system in this country. I really do believe it’s what drives people to both extremes and prohibits work on all of those other issues.”

Leslie Regier is running as an independent. She’s the only candidate in the debate who is not rooting for Democrats to control the House but instead says she’s indifferent to party politics.

Leslie Regier: “I want there to be less partisanship. And if I’m elected, then I would work with any of these and I think that they should focus on issues, listening to the people.”

Metro employee Don Rivers has run for Congress before. He says police oversight is a crucial issue for him.

Rivers: “One issue that I would love to add is the issue of Black Lives Matter, and make sure we know that all lives are important but work on it in such a way that it would bring back peace among all the voters in our nation.”

And state representative Brady Walkinshaw says climate change is the reason he’s running for Congress.  

Walkinshaw: “The first piece of legislation that I would bring forward would be a federal carbon tax. I think that climate change is the most pressing issue that our generation faces, it’s why I got into this race. I believe what Congress needs is a bold new generation of progressive leaders.”

There were few sharp differences of opinion among the candidates in this heavily Democratic district. So their top concerns were one way of spelling out the differences. The candidates are competing to see which two will move on from the election primary in August. Wednesday’s full debate airs June 1 on the public television station KCTS. 

Year started with KUOW: 2005