Attorney General – Manka Dhingra

Legislative Questionnaire

Candidate Info

Candidate Name:   Manka Dhingra
Position Sought:    Attorney General
Are you an incumbent for this position?    Non-incumbent
Home Legislative District:    45th Legislative District
Are you a Democrat?    Yes

Campaign Info

Campaign Manager or Point of Contact:    Erin Schultz, NWP Consulting

Part I – Candidate Background

1. Please briefly describe your qualifications, education, employment, community and civic activity, union affiliation, prior political activity, and other relevant experience. Beyond your qualifications, what makes you the best candidate for this position or office? Please describe any specific background or unique perspective you offer and how those will help you accomplish your goals for the position sought. If possible, give practical examples.

I have been a Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with King County for over 20 years, since January 2000. I have worked on domestic violence, sexual assault, and gun violence crimes in addition to creating the first in the nation Therapeutic Alternative Unit. As Chair of that unit, I supervised the Regional Mental Health Court, helped create our Veterans Court, and the Community Assessment and Referral for Diversion program. I helped create the 40-hour crisis intervention training for law enforcement and was a trainer at the Criminal Justice Training Commission. In my professional capacity, I have also served as a member of Shoreline Police Department’s Advisory Group for Response Awareness De-escalation and Referral (RADAR) and participated in the Seattle Police Department’s Muslim, Sikh, and Arab Advisory Council to address hate crimes in our community. I led the Coordinated Crisis Intervention Response meetings where I collaborated with all King County law enforcement officers to find creative solutions and coordinate responses to help individuals with mental illness.

Before becoming a prosecutor, I interned with the State Attorney General’s Office in their Criminal Division assisting with Sexually Violent Predator cases, and also clerked for Justice Barbara Madsen at the Washington State Supreme Court from September 1997 to June 1998.

I hold a JD from the University of Washington School of Law.

In the Senate, I am the Chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee and the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee as well as a member of the Senate Healthcare and Long-Term Care Committee and Ways and Means.

In terms of management experience, it is easy to come into a functioning office and run it, however I have had numerous opportunities to actually create new systems. I have run 2 nonprofits – Chaya and NAMI Eastside. I created all the systems for management and training for the entire organization for the founding members of Chaya. This included training for volunteers, employees, advocates, and board members. I led the transition from our first Executive Director to the expansion of the office of NAMI Eastside. I have also trained multiple other non-profits on board development and strategic planning.

Task Forces:
WA State Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People (MMIWP) Task Force
Criminal Sentencing Task Force
Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Statewide Coordinating Committee
Legislative-Executive WorkFirst Poverty Reduction Oversight Task Force
Poverty Reduction Work Group
Substance Use Recovery Services Advisory Committee
Crisis Response Improvement Strategy (CRIS) Committee
Crisis Response Improvement Strategy (CRIS) Steering Committee
Behavioral Health Recovery System Transformation Task Force (Co-Chair)
Washington State Task Force Against the Trafficking of Persons
Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA) Work Group
Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Best Practices Advisory Council
Sexual Assault Coordinated Community Response Task Force
Eyewitness Evidence Work Group
Informant Reliability Work Group
Jury Diversity Task Force
Office of Equity Task Force
Select Committee on Quality Improvement at State Hospitals

Jacob K Javits Public Service Award, the highest award given to a public servant by the American Psychiatric Association Jun 2022
Behavioral Health Champion, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Washington · Jan 2021
Champion for Kids’, Washington Digital Public Schools Alliance · Jan 2019
Legislator of the Year, The Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs (WACOPS) · Jan 2019
Nursing Champion, Washington State Nursing Association · Jan 2019
Behavioral Health Champion, NAMI – Washington · Jan 2019
Social Justice Champion, SEIU 775 · Jan 2019
Rynas Advocacy Award, The highest award for exceptional service for those with serious mental illness, Nami Eastside · Jan 2017
Golden Acorn Award in recognition of her dedication and service to children and youth, Redmond Elementary School PTA · Jan 2013
Randy Revelle Award for Mental Health Advocacy, for a lifetime of advocacy on behalf of the mentally ill. Washington Psychiatric Association · Jan 2010

2. What prompted you to run for this office?

Our next AG must be both a good litigator and a proven fighter with a demonstrated track record of standing up for what is right. I’ve spent my career fighting for the people of WA as an advocate, prosecutor, and Senator. No one will fight harder than I will for immigrants, refugees, women, LGBTQIA individuals, workers, a livable planet, and safe communities.

As AG, my priority will be to protect people and institutions from the increasing and persistent threats from the Supreme Court, Republicans, and Trump. Washingtonians will need someone who understands the depth of harm caused by their attacks on reproductive rights and on our diverse communities. As a mother and a woman of color, I deeply understand.

I will prioritize consumer protection and ensure our laws keep up with technology and the sophisticated manner in which all of us are targeted for fraud. We need education and outreach into communities so that all Washingtonians know their rights and the role the AG can play in protecting them.

This commitment to justice, proven leadership, and a history of delivering on the toughest issues is what I bring to this job, and I would be honored to have your support.

3. What are your campaign’s most important themes, issues, or priorities (three to five)? Share issues or priorities specific to the office that you’re running for.

MAGA extremists are intent on rolling back reproductive rights, worker rights, protection from gun violence, environmental protections & continued attacks on immigrants, refugees, & LGBTQIA individuals. Our next AG must continue to defend the rights of all Washingtonians.

AG Ferguson has set the standard for cooperating with colleagues and stakeholders across the country to effectively stand up against those attacks and protect our values. I’ve been honored to partner with the AG’s office and other legislators and elected officials across our country in coordinating access to abortion care, gender-affirming care, voting rights, privacy, drug policy, and cost transparency. I was honored to have been invited to the White House to present one of my signature bills, My Health My Data, to other national leaders. As our next Attorney General, I’ll continue to stand up for what is right and collaborate with local, regional, and national leaders to get the job done.

Consumer protection is a huge priority for me. We need laws to keep up with technology and the sophisticated manner in which all of us, especially our elderly are targeted. We need education and outreach into communities so they know what their rights are and the role the attorney general can play in protecting them.

I have seen first-hand the human and environmental toll that chemical pollution can extract on our lives given the Bhopal gas tragedy (my birth city) and I am committed to holding corporations accountable for their decisions. I will use every tool available to the Attorney General’s Office to ensure sustainable and environmentally friendly practices in our state, and environmental justice for every Washingtonian. We have only one planet and we have to make sure our children have clean water, air, and soil.

Gender-based violence is another priority for me and I have worked with the AGO in establishing the Missing Murdered Indigenous Women’s taskforce, working on trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault matters. We have to continue to change our culture so that we believe survivors.

4. What steps are you taking to run a successful campaign?

I am a tireless campaigner. As someone who was involved in Washington’s highest-profile election, receiving an endorsement from former VP (at the time) Joe Biden and flipping the State Senate from red to blue in 2017, I know how to run tough campaigns and win. Over 3 million dollars in attack ads were spent against me, but I’ve never backed down from a fight. Since then, I’ve won two additional elections against Republicans who targeted me and lost.

My campaign plan to win this year includes aggressive fundraising goals through in-state and out-of-state networks, securing a broad base of endorsements from organizations, elected and community leaders, helping them spread the word about our campaign, and mobilizing supporters across the state. I am proud that the Youth Committee I started in my first campaign has grown to nearly 60 young people who are motivated and actively engaged in this campaign.

Throughout my career, and my service in the State Senate, I have worked to strengthen communities through trust, respect, and putting in the work – that is exactly what I intend to do in this campaign. I have hired an experienced team that knows my story and shares my values. I firmly believe that when democracy awakens, justice wins and that the best strategy for winning is engaging the public.

Part II –  Yes or No Questions, please qualify your response if necessary

1. Do you support steps to build a fairer economy through tax reform, including a wealth tax?    Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #1    Ensuring that our wealthiest households and corporations pay their fair share in our state and generating additional progressive revenue to invest equitably in our priorities is another essential component. I was proud to vote for capital gains in the State Senate and will continue to support efforts to reform our upside-down tax code.
2. Do you support the right of public workers, excluding military, to bargain and strike?    Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #2    As a former union member and elected leader, I have stood with workers and working families, making every policy decision and investment with the impact of workers and their families in mind. I have a 100% voting record with labor ever since being elected to office 6 years ago, and I am proud to have earned the early endorsements of WA Fire Chiefs, Bellevue and Redmond Firefighters, IBEW Local 48, Sheet Metal Workers Local 66, Iron Workers PNW Council and Local 86, and ATU Local 587. I am the labor candidate in this race and I will continue to firmly defend the right of workers to organize, form and join a union, and bargain collectively as Attorney General.
3. Do you support legalizing multi-unit homes statewide, as proposed in the #Homes4WA bill, to help alleviate the affordable housing crisis?     Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #3    Given our housing shortage, we must use every tool at our disposal to create more capacity for affordable housing. As Attorney General, I will be a vocal advocate for effective strategies to meet the needs of Washingtonians to be housed.
4. Do you support legislation to address climate change and protect our environment, including the Keep Washington Evergreen Act?    Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #4    We have only one planet and Washington needs to be a leader in clean technologies and renewable energy. We passed a voter initiative over 10 years ago to increase the state’s use of renewable energy, and the legislature has been working to combat the degradation of our environment. I have been a proud co-sponsor of many of the initiatives around housing affordability, transit, and emission reduction, and I push to do this work with an equity lens. We must focus on reducing pollution in our waterways, and forestlands, especially as the federal government seeks to dismantle the EPA. But our transition to a green energy economy must include opportunities for all workers to share in the opportunity and prosperity. We simply cannot leave anyone behind. As Attorney General, I will do everything in my power to promote and uphold just and equitable transitions.
5. Do you support women’s unrestricted access to reproductive healthcare?     Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #5    Our next Attorney General has to be someone who prioritizes reproductive rights and access to services. In the State Senate, I have been securing the nation’s strongest privacy protections for sensitive reproductive and health care data, prohibiting cost-sharing for abortion, protecting people seeking an abortion in Washington and providers from prosecution in other states, protecting health providers from professional disciplinary action in Washington for performing procedures that are legal here, regardless of laws in other states, and giving the DOC authority to act as a wholesaler and dispenser of mifepristone to Washington providers and patients.

Last year I led the bi-cameral strategy in the legislature to ensure Washingtonians had access to reproductive healthcare and gender-affirming care. I was honored to be invited to the White House to present my data privacy bill for other national leaders. No one will fight harder for reproductive freedoms than me.
6. Do you support achieving a universal, affordable, quality single payer healthcare program?     Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #6    As a strong supporter of the significant strides in access to affordable, quality health achieved through the Affordable Care Act, I believe any healthcare reform should build upon these gains. I have long supported maintaining the prohibition of pre-existing condition exclusions, gender rating, and annual and lifetime benefit caps in all plans, and I support reimbursement parity as essential to guarantee access to quality health care. As AG I am committed to ensuring we are addressing the issues of healthcare mergers and the negative impact they can have on access to healthcare.
7. Do you support laws regulating the purchase, ownership, and carrying of firearms?     Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #7    While we have great laws on the books about removing firearms from people who have a history of violence, we don’t have consistent implementation of these laws across the state, this is an arena where the AG can directly impact the epidemic of gun violence.

I am proud to be the first candidate in WA State to make gun violence prevention a priority in their race, and I have sponsored many of the policy changes in the State Senate to prevent gun violence in our communities. I have successfully championed laws addressing gun violence every single year in the legislature.

Part III – Free Response (Please answer at least four questions fully, consider the remaining three optional)

1. Why are you running as a Democrat? What aspects of the Democratic platform most resonate with you?

I have been a Democrat my whole life. I believe government has a critical role to play in helping people end the cycles of poverty and intergenerational trauma and provide them with the resources to be successful. As an advocate and legislator, I have spent my life fighting for marginalized communities.

Although Washington State is blue, we face many of the same representation challenges seen across the country. The diversity of our population is not reflected in our elected leaders. I am proud to have contributed to changing that in 2017, when my win doubled the number of women of color in the Senate. But we have a great deal more to do. I’ve been the First in everything I’ve done. If elected, I’ll be the first immigrant, the first person of color, and only the second woman to hold this position.

But it’s not only about your skin color, it’s how you show up. As a leader of color, I ensure I go to marginalized communities instead of expecting them to come to me. I hold events at parks so that diverse communities feel comfortable attending. My youth campaign committee provides space and opportunity for all backgrounds to engage.

And it’s also about doing the work. I’m proud of my long and proven history of standing up for what’s right, but also getting results. When I was elected, I realized that the legislature did not have an HR, office, code of conduct, or an infrastructure to help employees. I have chaired the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee where I have led in establishing an HR office, including hiring a DEI officer, establishing policies and procedures for hiring practices, updating resume reviews, and establishing systems to ensure employees have input and agency in how their workplace functions. I’m proud to have championed the Nation’s first Statewide Office of Equity. The mission of this office is to specifically review government agencies’ policies and procedures to ensure our government reflects the population. I have been humbled to have won numerous awards for my work, including the President’s Award from the NAACP for what they called “spirit of excellence in leadership with an extraordinary passion for justice and equity for all.”

I’m motivated every day to help improve the lives of all Washingtonians, regardless of what you look like, how you identify, or where you come from. As our next Attorney General, I’ll keep fighting– through official action and using my voice as a woman, immigrant, and mom. Challenging injustices and keeping our families and communities safe has always been my north star, and with the support of the people of our great state, I’ll continue this work.

2. What important state and local issues have you worked on (or taken an interest in) that you feel aren’t getting enough attention from elected leaders and the media?

I wish Democrats talked more about intergenerational poverty and tools for wealth generation. As Democrats, we need to have open conversations about the role of government. The government’s job should not only be to help people when they are in need of assistance, but to help individuals develop a holistic plan for self-sufficiency and wealth generation. This necessitates an honest conversation about the role of intergenerational trauma and historical racism. The reconciliation arch in Whatcom County to acknowledge the massacre of the Sikh farmers is a good model for the state and local communities to follow in addressing the hurt of the past and finding a path forward.

3. What legislative reforms do you support to achieve greater equity and inclusion for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals in our communities?

We have made great strides in WA addressing equity and inclusion and still have a long way to go. We need to take a stand against discrimination and ensure that all in our community, especially our most marginalized, have their rights protected and defended. I have a proven track record of fighting for equal rights for all Washingtonians. I am cognizant of the breadth of challenges facing LGBTQIA and BIPOC communities, as I have spent my career working on issues of race, gender, and equity. I am proud to have earned a rating of “perfect” from the WA Equality PAC for my last election.

In our schools, places of work, and communities, every Washingtonian should have access to the same opportunities and ability to succeed as well as be seen and heard. As a State Senator, I worked to ensure that every piece of legislation should be viewed from the lens of how it may adversely impact marginalized communities or have unintended consequences for those communities.

I’m excited to take this next step in my legal and advocacy career, continuing to work for all the people of Washington State as we confront national challenges including LGBTQIA+ and reproductive rights and voting access.

4. What are some obstacles inherent in proposed legislative solutions to climate change? How would you approach those obstacles in order to best overcome or minimize any negative effects?

Taking on polluters is personal for me. My father passed away from colon cancer at the age of 40 having worked in the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal India, the site of one of the worst environmental disasters in recent history. I know firsthand the toll climate change can take on marginalized communities. WA is leading the nation in enacting climate policy addressing climate change and ss AG, I will bring the same tireless advocacy I have led with in the State Senate to:
– Expand the AG’s Environmental Division to better meet the needs of frontline and vulnerable communities– taking on polluters, reducing exposure to dangerous chemicals, dirty water, and climate impacts
– Better enforce the laws to safeguard our old-growth forests, salmon recovery efforts, reduce carbon pollution, and maintain progress on climate action
– Strengthen and enforce laws that help families and communities, protect our natural legacy, and set a national standard
– Stand steadfast against partisan attacks from MAGA supporters and donors, polluting industries, Trump, Congress, and the Courts– from rollbacks and attacks on laws that must be preserved

5. What safety, law, or justice reforms are you currently in favor of, and how will you work to implement them?

I have led on criminal justice reforms in the legislature and as a progressive prosecutor. I created the first in the nation Therapeutic Alternative Unit at the prosecutor’s office and have led on alternatives to incarceration and restorative justice practices for decades. We have to hold people accountable as well as reduce recidivism. To do that we have to ensure our jails and prisons are working to assess individuals in their custody to provide them with the resources they need so that when they are released they have the tools and plan for success. I created the WA Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention which currently provides grants across the state to community organizations that work with our youth who are at risk of incarceration to change the trajectory of their life. These programs are effective. The biggest criminal justice reform we can undertake is to ensure our children graduate high school.

6. What steps do you think need to be taken to improve voter turnout and increase voter trust in our election process?

When democracy awakens, justice wins. Democracy is not a spectator event but a team sport and we have to ensure every single person feels like they have a role to play. I believe we as a Party need to do more to engage young people, motivate and inspire them to be the change they want to see, and empower them to engage other people their age. As I mentioned before, my campaign’s youth committee has grown to nearly 60 young people who are motivated and actively engaged in this campaign. I believe we also need to do more to engage communities of color who often don’t see themselves in positions of power and understandably question the positive impact engaging in our Democracy will have in their lives. We can’t go to these communities when we need them to vote, but we have to engage them year-round. They have to feel like they belong and are heard in our election process.

Protecting our election workers is another critical part of ensuring public trust in elections. I was proud to support a bill this session that would make harassing election workers a felony, so people who participate and engage in our democracy have faith that the system works well – and that we don’t have bad actors that can actually disrupt vote counts.

7. Do you think public schools are adequately funded? If not, what minimum requirements should be met in an adequately funded public school system? What specific forms of taxation would you support to attain that funding?

A fully funded public education system is the foundation of our democracy. It is what ensures each and every child can have an equal opportunity to thrive. We have a long way to go to ensure that every student has an individualized plan for success and access to the resources and support they need to reach their full potential. We need to reimagine the prototypical school model and reevaluate what children need to be successful adults. I will continue working to fund our schools in a sustainable and responsible way, so we can invest in the teachers, programs, and resources that every student needs to succeed, especially in terms of providing more special needs accommodations. I have been a vocal supporter of fixing our upside-down tax system and we have to continue to look for more progressive revenue sources. As AG, I am committed to ensuring I am not only an attorney for the adults, but also the children of our state.

Printed Name    Manka Dhingra
Date (mm/dd/yy)    03/05/2024

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