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City council and school board hopefuls discuss equity and inclusion at forums

Virtual events took place on Oct. 19 and 21.

Mercer Island city council and school board director candidates stepped into the spotlight during a pair of recent virtual forums presented by ONE MI, Do the Work MI and the Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC).

The “Your Vote Matters: Conversations on Equity and Inclusion” events featured discussions with city council hopefuls Daniel Becker, Michael D. Curry, Ted Weinberg and Kate Akyuz, and a quartet from the school district realm, Brian Giannini Upton, Dan Glowitz, Lacey Aaker and Deborah Lurie. City council candidates Salim Nice and Lisa Anderl were not present at the forums.

CITY COUNCIL

Moderated by Bill Radke on Oct. 21, the candidates weighed in on several topics, once of which was a city councilmember’s role in unifying Islanders and addressing social media discord on Nextdoor and other platforms.

Here’s some of their responses, in part.

Becker: “The role that we would play is really setting an example of leadership and trying to work with people. I have tried very very hard in my campaign to talk to everyone and work with everyone and show that we will be better if we can actually work together.”

Curry: “We’re elected officials. We serve at the will of the people that we represent, and so because of that we should hold ourselves to higher standards. By holding ourselves to higher standards, it’s about making everybody feel included and to make sure that everybody has equal say at the table.”

Weinberg: “I think that we need to support our journalists, we need to support our local coffee shops where we can meet with people and discuss issues person to person rather than in this impersonal space where everyone has a megaphone.”

Akyuz: (On Nextdoor) There’s a pain, there’s a mistrust. I think the only way we can get through that is once you get on council, actually being a good balanced listener. I’m a capital project manager, I have to listen to many facets of an argument, and I think I’m fair in that and I think the council could do a better job of that.”

Nice wasn’t at the forum because of a personal appointment, and Anderl relayed a message that she felt it was a conflict of interest to participate in the debate because the city council is considering partnering with ONE MI and Do the Work MI on a project promoting inclusion and diversity. The SJCC will not be involved in the project. The incumbents’ websites are https://www.lisaformi.com/ and https://votenice.com/.

To view the full debate, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8dOkqD-I4c.

SCHOOL BOARD

On Oct. 19, Martha Brant was at the helm of this event, and one of the topics she engaged candidates in was their thoughts on why Islanders should be invested in creating diverse and inclusive schools.

Following is part of their responses.

Giannini Upton: “This is a major issue in America. It’s a major issue in our society both locally and beyond. If our students grow up in a bubble here on Mercer Island and aren’t exposed to diverse communities, cultures, then they’re not going to be successful in the world when they leave the Island.”

Glowitz: “Equity is important because the principle of equity is each individual realizing their full potential. The challenges we face as a community and as a country and in our world are enormous. In order to tackle those, we have to enable students to achieve what they’re capable of.”

Lurie: “(With a Mercer Island education) We’re building character, we’re developing them as people and these are our future leaders. We need students who understand themselves and understand the world around them. They’re not going to be able to do that unless they understand and can empathize with the path that each person takes.”

Aaker: “We should be interested in equity and inclusion if we are interested in human rights, if we’re interested in everyone having an equal opportunity to participate in this society that we love so much. (Equity and inclusion are) important that it informs kind of everything that we do, from the budget, to academic clubs to how we interact with the community.”

To view this forum in full, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8Dq9i-8LL4.


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