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Image: Katie Lemay

The presidential election may be months away, but we’ve already been watching a unique election cycle unfold — fueled, at times, by staggering acts of violence, massive population shifts, and questions about justice and the value of human life. So we sampled a local panel of diverse voices: Going into this election, what issues concern you most as an American Jew?

Jason Rantz

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Image: Katy Lemay

Jason Rantz Show, 7–10 p.m. Weeknights on KIRO Radio

I’m paying particular attention to how candidates treat the alarming trend of students and professors shutting down speech they find disagreeable. Progressive campus
activists are bullying people who hold opposing viewpoints, which is disconcerting when so many student activists and professors view Israel as a terrorist state. I hope, in an effort to gain their support, campaigns don’t embolden these students to continue pushing their extremist viewpoints without challenge.

Eileen Hershberg

Anti-Defamation League Pacific Northwest Region Chair

As a 501(c)(3), ADL does not support or oppose candidates for office. ADL’s mandate to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry compels it to caution against stereotyping and campaign rhetoric that appeals to voters based on religion, race, ethnicity, or any other criterion that separates rather than unites. Notions of a religious test for public office have no place in our debate. The beauty and strength of this country lie in how we embrace those who immigrate here in search of a better life; we are, indeed, a nation of immigrants with a constitution that prohibits religious tests for public office and safeguards individual rights, including the free exercise of religion.

Reuven Carlyle

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Image: Katie Lemay

State Senator —36th Legislative District

My policy priority remains meeting our state’s paramount duty to fund education, not only in K–12, but early learning and higher education as well. Until we rethink our old approach and modernize our broken tax system to prioritize education instead of tax preferences, we will continue to slip in the quality of funding and outcomes of our kids’ education. We need to make more progress this year in helping foster youth graduate high school and college, improve at-home services for seniors, improve homelessness programs, and strengthen our ethics laws. 

Tana Senn

State Representative —41st Legislative District

The 2016 election is critical to the Jewish community given the anticipated retirement of at least two Supreme Court justices. If Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer — both members of the tribe and of the liberal wing of the court — soon retire, the next president’s appointments will shape the Court for a generation to come. Issues like reproductive choice, religious freedom, immigration, campaign finance reform, and the Second Amendment hang in the balance.

Brooke Adams

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Image: Katie Lemay

Director, Jconnect at Hillel at the University of Washington

One major issue in the upcoming election, which has been largely ignored by many candidates, is racism. We must elevate this issue to the national radar, because people are still being gunned down in the streets due to the color of their skin. As a Jewish woman, this is important to me because my Judaism is centered on the practice of celebrating the humanity of every individual. An election that does not explicitly state that black lives matter is an election that fails to recognize the value of every human life.

Saul Gamoran

Cochair of the Cruz for President Washington State Leadership Team

My biggest concern for the 2016 election cycle is our community’s lack of prioritizing Israel as an issue in the campaign. When I ask Jews what their most important issues are, Israel is lucky if it is in the top five. I am not suggesting that we all must share the same perspective on the best way to help Israel achieve peace with her neighbors —
I welcome the diversity of our approaches and ideas — but voting for a candidate that is personally and demonstrably committed to the U.S.–Israel relationship should be of vital importance to all of us.

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