ELECTION 2018: Joe Nguyen becomes second candidate to announce a run for 34th District State Senate seat

We’ve heard from another candidate who has entered the race for our area’s 34th District State Senate seat, open since Sen. Sharon Nelson is not running for re-election. Here’s the announcement from Joe Nguyen‘s campaign:

Joe Nguyen, a Senior Manager at Microsoft who was born and raised in the 34th Legislative District, announced he would run for State Senate. The son of Vietnamese refugees and father of two, Nguyen aims to succeed retiring Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson for the open seat. He is off to a strong start with an early endorsement from Senator Bob Hasegawa.

Nguyen’s involvement in the Seattle area is lifelong, multi-faceted and represents a lived experience that is deeply connected with the values of hard work and service in this community. His mother escaped Vietnam with his sister on her back – and floated for weeks in the Pacific until seen by a Coast Guard plane and picked up by a cargo ship. He was born and raised in White Center/Burien, where his parents settled.

At Microsoft, Nguyen is working to provide accessible job training resources that empowers all people
with the right – often new – skills needed to succeed in this rapidly changing, technologically dependent economy.

“As the father of two young children and husband to an all-star educator, there is no issue more important than education,” said Nguyen. “Our state should be a national leader, not only in providing the kind of education that sets our kids up for success, but in reducing inequity and disparity. Fully funding our state’s obligation for education is essential, but it is not enough. Our teachers need better pay and benefits; our kids need resources in the classroom and beyond – whatever it takes so all students arrive at school ready to learn and thrive.”

Nguyen serves as the Associate Board Chairperson at Wellspring Family Services, which partners with families experiencing homelessness. This year, he helped Wellspring promote and advocate for legislation that will incorporate training in trauma-informed child care for early learning providers in Washington. This legislation was signed by Governor Inslee in March.

Nguyen is committed to finding solutions, so our residents can afford to stay here. “Seattle grows more unaffordable every day. People are worried they will no longer be able to live in their homes because they can’t afford the taxes. Health care costs, property taxes and rents are rising faster than wages. Despite Washington having one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, many residents right here in the 34th, don’t have any access to that prosperity.”

Nguyen was appointed by the King County Council to the Community Advisory Committee for the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO). He serves as a bridge between the community and the King County Sheriff’s Office in efforts to hold law enforcement accountable for providing fair and just police services to the public. “Along with law enforcement de-escalation resources and training,” Nguyen said, “Washington must implement solutions to decrease the epidemic of gun violence. There were nearly 700 firearm-related deaths last year in the state. We need stronger gun laws and policies to protect our children and save lives.”

Nguyen attended Highline Public Schools, John F. Kennedy High School in Burien, and graduated from Seattle University, where he was a two-term student body President. He lives with his wife Tallie, a former Highline Public School teacher who taught for a decade, and their two children near the West Seattle Junction.

“I am excited for the opportunity to amplify the voices and ensure a seat at the table for all our
neighbors, community members, business owners, teachers, immigrants, union workers and families that make our community such a special place to live.”

America is made greatest by its immigrants and refugees. If elected, Nguyen would be the first legislator of Vietnamese heritage in Washington and despite being one of the most diverse communities in the state, he would also be the first legislator of color from the 34th district.

The first candidate to announce in the race was Shannon Braddock, earlier this month. Formal filing happens the week of May 14th; the primary election is on August 7th.

30 Replies to "ELECTION 2018: Joe Nguyen becomes second candidate to announce a run for 34th District State Senate seat"

  • Jon Wright April 30, 2018 (12:41 pm)

    My eyes glazed over after the “endorsement from Senator Bob Hasegawa” part.

    • Jort April 30, 2018 (12:53 pm)

      Yes, anybody who touts support from Bob “I Will Personally Kill Light Rail to West Seattle” Hasegawa is disqualified from my list. 

      Being attached to Bob Hasegawa’s anti-urban, anti-Sound Transit viewpoint is an enormous liability. 

      • TreeHouse April 30, 2018 (5:50 pm)

        Anyone who gets an endorsement from Bob Hasegawa is a huge no for me as well. Public transportation is a top priority for me since the buses at rush hour are way too full. Hopefully we will see a few more fresh new candidates. 

    • Lagartija Nick April 30, 2018 (6:12 pm)

      I couldn’t agree more, for exactly the reasons Jort said.

    • Peter April 30, 2018 (6:28 pm)

      Same here. Being endorsed by a liar, hypocrite, and anti-urbanist like Hasegawa excludes Nguyen from getting my vote. 

      • heartless April 30, 2018 (7:42 pm)

        Even if that endorsement is a net negative I think I’ll wait and hear what the man has to say.  After all, we have plenty of time to decide.

  • Tedb310 April 30, 2018 (1:01 pm)

    The primary is August 7th, not May 7th. 

    • WSB April 30, 2018 (1:13 pm)

      Thanks, typo, fixing.

  • rb April 30, 2018 (2:13 pm)

    Frankly, they all seem to say the right things and then fall apart once they get elected. I would be interested in how he intends to resolve all the problems he listed.  Job tax? More restrictive laws? 


  • Emily April 30, 2018 (3:38 pm)

    So proud of our good friend Joe! He is a wonderful husband and father and so freaking smart!!! I know he’s going to do really good things for families in and around West Seattle! Go Joe! 

  • JTT April 30, 2018 (3:47 pm)

    I’m from White Center and have known Joe a long time.  Super excited to see someone so dedicated to the community running office! 

  • Lyss V April 30, 2018 (3:53 pm)

    I think that it’s exciting that a new face is trying to break into this space, and I too am interested in seeing how some of the community’s big issues will be handled.

    Joe has been a steady advocate for families in the South Seattle sphere. He has plenty of well rounded community experience as well. So I’m hopeful that that will keep him more empathetic and realistic when it comes to the needs of constituents.

  • MN April 30, 2018 (4:23 pm)

    Having grown up and lived in Burien most of my life I’m actually pretty excited to see what Joe brings to the table! I’ll keep up with the news on him.

  • Linh T. April 30, 2018 (4:51 pm)

    It’s exciting to see a new and younger member of the community getting involved in electoral politics.  It’s doubling exciting to have someone who is culturally competent and has a track record of servant leadership wanting to represent the community at the legislature.  The 34th LD’s citizens are lucky to have a candidate of this experience and caliber to get to know and cast their votes for.      

  • Matt M April 30, 2018 (7:38 pm)

    I don’t believe Joe’s endorsement from Senator Hasegawa  means he aligns with Bob on every or most issues. It simply shows Joe will effectively work with anyone to represent interests of the 34th LD (and he’ll certainly need to work with Bob if elected). What I know about Joe leads me to believe he’s independent-minded and progressive and can’t easily be put in a box.

  • Question Authority April 30, 2018 (8:09 pm)

    The 34th has been imploding from within, not an organization to be linked to in my opinion.

    • WSB April 30, 2018 (9:13 pm)

      There isn’t a single mention of the 34th *organization* here – it’s all regarding the district, which is a geographic area.

  • Calires April 30, 2018 (8:36 pm)

    Single issue voters baffle me.  There are actual issues in the world other than mass transit.

    • Lagartija Nick May 1, 2018 (2:36 pm)

      In a region that is decades behind on mass transit, touting your endorsement from the anti-transit Hasegawa is tone deaf at best and shows a lack of good judgement.

      • TD May 1, 2018 (7:21 pm)

        Senator Bob Hasegawa has always made it a point to support candidates of color, and has used his office in Olympia as an entryway for People of Color to enter a political system that has historically been closed to them. I believe there are only 5 Senators of Color out of 49, and only 15 or so People of Color in the entire legislature. If elected, Joe would be the first Vietnamese Senator in Washington State history, and to my knowledge the first candidate of color elected to the legislature in the 34th. While I can’t speak to the exact reasons why Senator Hasegawa endorsed Joe, I would venture to guess it is because of this and Joe’s years of community engagement and advocacy. To minimize Senator Hasegawa and his years of advocating on behalf of under-served communities down to being supposedly anti-transit reeks of privilege and bias. 

        Instead of making an unfounded assumption that Joe is anti-transit, why don’t you actually ask him personally? Here is his email (hello@meetjoenguyen.com) and his campaign phone number (206-659-0291) that I pulled from his campaign website.  

        • Lagartija Nick May 2, 2018 (8:34 am)

          TD, I’m not saying that Joe is anti-transit, I’m saying that his highlighting the endorsement from one of the most anti-transit politicians in the region shows a lack of judgement that will affect my vote.

          I also would like to see more minorities in our state’s legislature and I do recognize and applaud Hasegawa’s contribution to fixing that, but glossing over his duplicitous opposition to one of the biggest problems in our region because of his support for minority representation is the opposite of being an informed voter and has it’s own privilege.

          • Ivan Weiss May 2, 2018 (9:18 am)

            The only people being “duplicitous” here are those who think Sound Transit should be getting a blank check, and should be immune from all public scrutiny, criticism, and fiscal responsibility, and that anyone who deviates one iota from this orthodoxy shall henceforth, and for all eternity, be marked as “anti-transit,” and be branded with the Mark of Cain.

            I live on Vashon, the ferry-dependent part of the 34th, and if Bob Hasegawa lived in the 34th also, I would damn sure want him representing me, to demand from the Washington State Ferries bureaucracy the same hard answers he has demanded from Sound Transit.  

            I support all transit. I do not support bureaucracies running amok. They are not mutually exclusive.

          • heartless May 2, 2018 (10:26 am)


            I love transit at least as much as you and understand where you’re coming from.

            What I think (what I want to think?) is that Mr. Nguyen and his campaign figured that an endorsement from Senator Hasegawa would increase his publicity and help his chances of winning–and that’s all.  And I’d bet they are probably right–I’m betting most voters either don’t care as much about transit or aren’t aware of Senator Hasegawa’s history on the issue, or even have a different take on the whole thing.

            What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t take the endorsement–or even his touting the endorsement–as evidence of his positions or even evidence of bad judgment on his part, it’s more complicated than that.

            (That said I hope he gets wind of this comment thread and understand how strongly people feel about transit and takes that into consideration.)

  • Nicole April 30, 2018 (8:56 pm)

    Joe is a fixture in West Seattle, raising children in our community- he volunteers locally and has a vested interest in the future of West Seattle. More over he has a vested interest in ALL of the 34th district, not just the Junction. Joe can be a strong advocate for an electorate that is historically under-represented in Seattle politics (White center/ Burien) giving a voice to a rapidly growing part of our city at a time when it is desperately needed. Hasegawa endorsement aside, I’ll be eagerly waiting to hear the rest of his platform in the run up to the election. 

  • Mike G April 30, 2018 (9:05 pm)

    Joe will be a fantastic Senator. I’ve known him for 12 years, and have served under him in leadership positions. He’s fair, consistent, committed to the most good for the most people, and a real champion of the underserved. We’d be fortunate to have him represent us in the State Senate. 


    A Supporter in Delridge        

  • MJ April 30, 2018 (10:43 pm)

    The Vietnamese people I know are hard workers.  I know people who have escaped Vietnam with nothing who have become very successful via hard work.

    I suspect Joe’s life experiences could provide some diversity to the State Senate, but I want to learn more.

  • HTB May 1, 2018 (9:10 am)

    I like that someone from the tech industry is running. We need more of that. Too many elected officials come from the non-profit or social service space and this creates a bias toward business.

    I’m interested to hear more of what Mr. Nguyen has to say.

  • LP May 1, 2018 (9:16 am)

    I’m a White Center homeowner and have known Joe a long time.  I’m excited to support someone who actually reflects the incredible diversity of this community.  Joe grew up here, still lives here, and will work hard to ensure that the voices of this community are heard.

  • scubafrog May 1, 2018 (7:02 pm)

    Cool Joe!!

  • Scott May 3, 2018 (10:19 am)

    How about enforce the current gun laws on the books and see if that helps.  If you cant even enforce the current ones I don’t see why you need more laws that you wont even enforce. 

Sorry, comment time is over.