White Walkers: Democracy Is Coming & Are Candidate Forums Diverse Enough?

That’s a lot of white and old white people…

We’ll get back to that.

Several organizations hosted/are hosting candidate forums for the upcoming race for 7 seats on the Seattle City Council. That is great. Council members hold enormous powers. These forums help voters separate the pro up-zoning, pragmatic, and detail-oriented candidates the city needs from the gregarious but distractingly inflammatory ideologues.

The voters still might choose the destructive ideologues, but that is their choice. This is a democracy after-all, popular does not mean best.

However, there seems to be a diversity problem in the audiences of these forums, at least a perceived one. Unless someone is accurately tracking demographic data from them, it’s irresponsible to make absolute claims over inclusiveness.

Local journalist Erica Barnett pointed out the Speak Out Seattle! District 1 forum was very white. Her tweet at right is phrased with some judgement. But she’s the same person who posted that chock-full-of-white-folk tweet above—a forum she moderated.

So yeah, maybe Barnett should not have been so quick to condemn SOS, but that’s not what matters here. And if anyone reads this post and takes out any aggression on her for this very mild inconsistency, guess what: You’re the asshole. No, what matters here is this: How do we include more diverse voices in our council race?

These forums are deeply informative, but perhaps the organizers and the candidates themselves need to brainstorm new ways to make sure these discussion include the voices and the ears of a broader diverse community. A reasonable assumption is that privilege allows older whiter folks to take the time to attend these forums at disproportional rates. If so, the question becomes how do we bring these discussion to the broader community?

Any candidates out there have thoughts? You’re asking us to validate you as a leader… lead.

In the meantime, let’s cool it with the single photo diversity decrees. It’s not only unscientific, it’s not helpful.

Nathan Chaffetz