On Tuesday, October 25th, 2016, the biennial Candidates Forum on Disabilities took place at Clark College’s Gaiser Hall in Vancouver, Washington from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. This nonpartisan community event provided opportunities to connect candidates and constituents together for a better understanding of current issues and concerns from the disability community at large.

Clark County Parent Coalition, a program of Parents Empowered and Communities Enhanced (PEACE) coordinated and hosted the event with support from a wide range of community partners and volunteers, including All Born (In), Autism Empowerment, Fraley Photography, Northwest Down Syndrome Association, Parent to Parent of SW WA, Pasitos Gigantes, Salmon Creek TOPSoccer, Special Celebrations, Special Education Parent Teacher Student Association (SEPTSA), Special Olympics of Washington, The Arc of Southwest Washington and Washington School for the Deaf.

Autism Empowerment’s Executive Director, Karen Krejcha had the honor of being Master of Ceremonies at the 2016 Candidates Forum on Disabilities. She had the opportunity to introduce a performance produced by Bertha Chavez and Herencia Mexicana. Next was a round of thank yous from Clark County Parent Coalition Coordinator and Executive Director of PEACE, Darla Helt.  A highlight of the evening was guest speaker and self-advocate, Ivanova Smith from Self-Advocates in Leadership (SAIL) of Washington.

Karen Krejcha, Executive Director of Autism Empowerment and Jamie Burch, Co-Coordinator, Clark County Parent Coalition

Pictured: Karen Krejcha, Executive Director of Autism Empowerment served as Master of Ceremonies and Jamie Burch, Co-Coordinator, Clark County Parent Coalition served as Event Coordinator – photo: Claire Burch

From 6:00 – 6:30 pm was a Candidates & Constituents Meet and Greet. Candidate introductions and Q & A took place from around 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Key topics of interest to the disability community at large covered during the forum included:

  • Accessibility
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Healthcare
  • Housing
  • Work Force Shortage
  • as well as individual questions provided to the candidates during meet & greet, during Q & A and afterward during networking time.

A binder was presented to all candidates in advance of the forum with white papers including position, legislation and recommendations regarding the key topics of interest. Key topics and pre-selected candidate questions were prepared by Clark County Parent Coalition with the support and input from their nonprofit community partners.

If you were not able to attend the Candidates Forum on Disabilities or if you’d like to see it again, you may do so directly on our website by clicking the embedded video link below. Video provided by Clark/Vancouver TV (CVTV) at www.cvtv.org and can also be seen on channels 21 and 23.


Candidates who were invited to the event included:

Congressional District 3: US Representative: Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) and Jim Moeller **(D)
Legislative District 14: State Senator: Curtis King (R) and Amanda Richards (I-GOP)
Legislative District 14: State Rep. Position: 1 – Norm Johnson (R) and Susan Soto Palmer (D)
Legislative District 14: State Rep. Position 2 – Gina McCabe ** (R) and Eric Adams (D)
Legislative District 17: State Senator: Lynda Wilson ** (R) and Tim Probst ** (I-D)
Legislative District 17: State Rep. Position: 1 – Vicki Kraft ** (R) and Sam Kim ** (I-D)
Legislative District 17: State Rep. Position 2 – Paul Harris (R) and Martin Hash (D)
Legislative District 18: State Senator: Ann Rivers ** (R) and Eric Holt ** (D)
Legislative District 18: State Rep. Position: 1 – Brandon Vick ** (R) and Justin Oberg ** (D)
Legislative District 18: State Rep. Position 2 – Liz Pike ** (R) and Kathy Gillespie ** (I-D)
Legislative District 20: State Senator: John Braun (R) – Unopposed
Legislative District 20: State Rep. Position 1: Richard DeBolt (GOP) – Unopposed
Legislative District 20: State Rep. Position 1: Ed Orcutt (R) – Unopposed
Legislative District 20: State Senator: Annette Cleveland (D) and Lewis Gerhardt (R)
Legislative District 49: State Rep. Position 1: Sharon Wylie ** (D) and Kaitlyn Beck (D)
Legislative District 49: State Rep. Position 2: Alishia Topper ** (D) and Monica Stonier ** (D)
County District 3: County Councilor: John Blom ** (R) and Tanisha Harris ** (D)
County District 4: County Councilor: Eileen Quiring ** (R) and Roman Battan ** (D)

Those with an ** were in attendance.

Autism Empowerment would like to give a special thanks and shout out to Autism Serves Kids Care Club members, AJ, Hayden, Tristan and Ryan for doing a fantastic job volunteering as greeters during the event. Thanks also to their parents for volunteering in a variety of useful roles! We are also grateful to AE Board Members Tara O’Gorman, Brian Tashima and John Krejcha who volunteered and were in attendance.