Washington voters face a choice in the Nov. 5 election over whether to once again allow affirmative action programs in public contracting, schools and hiring — aimed at boosting participation by historically underrepresented groups.

On Episode 114 of The Overcast, former Seattle Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim makes the case for retaining Initiative 1000, the measure approved by the Legislature this year that would end a ban on affirmative action dating back to 1998’s voter-approved I-2o0.

[We heard last week from Kan Qiu, an opponent of I-1000]

Kim is part of the campaign for a “yes” vote on Ref. 88, which would maintain I-1000 as law. A “no” vote in the Nov. 5 election would repeal the measure.

Kim pushes back against opponents of I-1000 who argue it is unnecessary, pointing to continuing inequities in public contracting and education. The “color blind” approach of I-200 has been “a failure,” she says.

She defends I-1000 against critics who say it would impose quotas, saying the plain letter of the initiative merely allows public institutions to consider factors such as race and gender and sexual orientation in hiring and other decisions.

“I think that is a crucial difference,” Kim says.

She also disputes arguments that I-1000 would harm Asian Americans, calling such claims divisive.


“For the vast majority of Asian Americans, that argument doesn’t resonate well,” she says, arguing that Seattle-area activists for historically underrepresented groups have a proud history of working together instead of clashing.

And Kim responds to Qiu’s claim on the podcast last week that I-1000’s affirmative action policy is akin to racist “Jim Crow” laws of the past.

“I was actually very horrified” by that argument, Kim says. “It’s not just hurtful rhetoric, it’s also damaging.”

Also in this episode, Kim discusses campaign strategy and the odd path that I-1000 took to the Legislature. She also addresses the signature gatherers who helped pass I-1000, only to be stiffed on payment.

This episode was recorded at the Seattle studio of public radio 88.5 FM KNKX.

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