Seattle Voter's Forum: Casting ballots with our whole city in mind. Worship in Action

By Beth Douglass

Seattle's next election day is coming. On November 7, we'll cast our ballots for mayor -- but Seattle voters have more to decide than whether to elect Jenny Durkan or Cary Moon.

As we flip through our Washington State voters' pamphlets and prepare to fill out our ballots, we want to be intentional about considering the impacts our vote has -- not only on our families and neighborhoods -- but on all families and neighborhoods in Seattle. As our city's economy continues to grow at rapid speed, we're becoming even more aware of the impacts on Seattle's underrepresented communities, which are receiving even fewer resources from industries focused on pouring into other areas of town.

For the past year, Union church's Truth & Justice initiative has looked to explore the different ways this gap in our city continues to widen. From youth incarceration, marginalization, homelessness, the history of America's criminal justice system, and workshops to help us begin to identify our own implicit biases and cultural lenses, it's been an exciting year. We are so grateful for the many community partners and leaders who have been instrumental in helping us host these timely events and discussions.

On Suday, September 22, we hosted a voter's forum at the close of our 4th Sunday community service and volunteer activities. Gathering in the cafe of Kakao Coffee and Chocolate, we gathered to discuss a variety of issues on our November 2017 ballot.

Our goal was not to walk away having decided how to vote, but to have the chance to engage in dialogue with others in our community, and to ponder together how we can vote in a way that is guided by Scripture and informed by Christ's heart for the world and the types of actions he took.

The forum began with the video, "That Is Privilege?," which we watched in an effort to see some of the ways our experiences are different from others, and to explore the ways that various parts of our identities and experiences can impact our experience with the world. 

View the full list of questions, compiled by Buzzfeed, used in the video.

In smaller discussion groups, we discussed a variety of current issues, paying specific attention to the impacts they each have on underrepresented populations, such as those expeirencing homelessness, immigrants (documented and undocumented), refugees, people of color, historically non-white neighborhoods, single parents, those with disabilities, who are renting their living spaces, who don't have a car, people with significant medical needs, and more.

  • Homelessnes, right to shelter
  • Housing, zoning, and backyard cottages
  • Police reform
  • Income tax
  • Transportation
  • School funding, education equity, and access to resources
  • Seattle's rapidly growing technology industry
  • Access to healthcare

At the close of our discussion time, we talked about whether we see these issues different when viewed through the lens of another. 

As we choose how to vote -- and consider the many options we see for how we can sharing of our time and resources -- it is such a gift to engage in dialogue with each other. As we learn about others' experiences, areas of expertise, and the places where they are investing their time, we are able to learn, grow, and move forward with a continually growing and expanding view of our city and the complexities of the challenges we face.

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Union's Truth & Justice will host a variety of events in the coming year.  Email Truth & Justice for information.