Here’s the fourth official announcement of candidacy we’ve received for the 34th District seat in the State Senate:
Today, Lem Charleston begins his campaign to bring years of community leadership, activism, involvement, and diversity to 34th Legislative District.
I am running to be your next State Senator because I am convinced we can do better. Senator Sharon Nelson did a great job with the tools she had available to her but we need to progressively move her legacy to the next level by doing more in and for our communities here in the 34th district.
I love having a family. I love being a devoted husband and father. I’m a proud union member, a community member, an associate chaplain with Seattle Police Department (SPD). I served my country in the United States Marine Corps. I don’t look like a regular politician because I am not a career politician. I have different experiences than some politicians. I have been working in aerospace for over 30 years. I worked in Everett for 25 years and I am now in Renton and a proud member of District 751 of the International Association of Machinists. I was a Union Steward in the International Association of Machinists for 20 years. I have been a minister since 1992 and was the Pastor at the United House of Prayer For All People, Seattle, WA until 2008. I had a pretty good career as a volunteer soccer coach in the West Seattle Soccer Club (WSSC) as well.
Right now there are ZERO African Americans in the State Senate and the 34th Legislative District has never elected a person of color. It’s time for realistic diversity. We have to work together and not just believe in the creed of this district, but bring that creed to fruition.
I’m running be your next State Senator because I believe we can do better because our community members and our city and State needs us to do better.
We have traffic problems, classroom overcrowding problems, bike lane sharing problems. We also have one of the highest homelessness rates in the nation. We have obscene housing prices, and the property taxes that go with them. There is gun violence that is leaving our communities with grief, anger, and fear like never before. We can’t remedy all these things in one day, but working together, looking at our problems and facing them one by one, for what they are, I am confident we will find a remedy to each and every one of them.
Housing: The 34th district is one that has millionaires on the beach on the west end, and people living on the streets on the east end of this district. We can do better. We need to find solutions that cure that disparity. Seattleites and many people throughout the region are working hard to solve this problem, and I’ll work hard at the state level to find solutions to these issues. Housing is becoming a state issue. The Stranger reported in 2017 that, ”The Seattle area is the ninth fastest-growing metro in the nation, gaining about 1,100 residents per week according to population estimates issued this morning by the U.S. Census Bureau.” It’s not my goal to simply have another food bank for the homeless but how about giving them the tools to start a business or get a job so they can get off the streets and be able to provide adequately for their families.
Education: Seattle needs stronger educational resources and we need our schools to be completely funded. The levy’s just don’t get the job done anymore. I’ll work to make sure they have the resources they need to serve all of our community members. A strong community that is built by the people who serve in it, live in it, and love it is bound to prosper. It is my goal to not only expose the achievement gap between white students and students of color as this is important, but to also partner with the appropriate people everywhere reasonable to remedy this problem.
Revenue: We need to stop giving tax breaks to huge corporations with no way to get that money back if they don’t follow through on the deal. And yes, we need to fix our broken and regressive tax system. Taxing big corporations in a fair and equitable manner in a way that will not cost the middle class living wage jobs. We all must research and study to find economic solutions to remedy our concerns so that we build a stable and collective balance, with these corporations and create income equality here in Seattle.
I believe we can do better because I have lived here in the 34th district for over twenty-one years. As a soccer coach, I watched the parents of kids playing soccer teach their kids how to win and how to lose, all with dignity and fairness. Those lessons we learn as children are the ones we need to apply as adults we need to understand our problems and wisely find remedies for them.
Lem Charleston was born in Seattle and has lived in West Seattle for over 21 years. He’s been a pastor and a minister in the community for sixteen years, a volunteer soccer coach for six years, and is currently serving as a volunteer assistant Seattle Police Department chaplain for the past twelve years. He’s been married for 21 years and he and his wife have two children attending West Seattle Schools.
The three candidates from whom we previously received announcements are Shannon Braddock, Joe Nguyen, and Lois Schipper. Official filing week is under way through Friday; here’s who’s turned in paperwork so far. The seat is open because Sen. Sharon Nelson has announced she is not running for re-election.