Friday, May 18, was the deadline for candidates to file for Washington’s 34th state senate district – most recently represented by retiring Democrat Sen. Sharon Nelson – and some familiar local names have tossed their hats into the ring. A primary election will be held Aug. 7, 2018, with the top two vote-getters moving onto the general election Nov. 6. The 34th district represents Burien, White Center, West Seattle and Vashon Island, and – far as we know – four of the 11 candidates have local ties:

  • Republican Darla Green
  • Independent Debi Wagner
  • Democrat Lois Schipper
  • Democrat Joe Nguyen
EDITOR’S NOTE: So far, The B-Town Blog has only received candidate information from Schipper and Nguyen. For his post we will do our best to include background on all local candidates based on our previous coverage.
First, here’s some background info on the most-known local candidates – Green and Wagner:
Darla Green
  • In Burien’s Nov. 2017 City Council election, incumbent Nancy Tosta defeated Darla Green by 1,836 votes – the biggest margin of victory for that election. Previously, Green lost to current Councilmember Austin Bell in 2015 by just 189 votes.
  • New/current Mayor Jimmy Matta beat incumbent Debi Wagner by 368 votes.
  • The Nov. 2017 election was very contentious and controversial, with a “slate” of four anti-sanctuary ‘Burien Proud Burien First’ (BPBF) candidates (which included Green and Wagner) accused of being tied to a known hate group called Respect Washington. That group’s main organizer, Republican Craig Keller, also recently filed to run for the U.S. House to represent the 7th Congressional District of Washington against incumbent Democrat Pramila Jayapal.
Debi Wagner
  • The BPBF slate was endorsed by Respect WA in a very controversial direct mail piece (see .jpeg here) that listed names and addresses of “alien and gang criminals in Burien” (see .jpeg here). The BPBF slate later attempted to distance themselves from that group, but it’s likely that negative fallout from that highly-publicized incident inspired a strong “get out the vote” drive that won the election for the four progressive candidates, who now dominate Burien’s council by a 5-2 majority.
Lois Schipper
Lois Schipper has served as Chair for the Highline Citizens for Schools group, as well as a member of Highline Public Schools’ Capital Facilities Advisory Committee. She is a Public Health Nurse. She said in a statement:
Throughout her career, Schipper has led the fight to solve these needs and challenges, managing the King County Public Health Center that serves White Center and Burien.  Earlier, Schipper was the first nurse in the 1980’s supporting HIV positive mothers and babies. Now, at Seattle Children’s Hospital, she leads a team helping non-English speaking families navigate the health care system. Lois Schipper has deep ties to White Center – one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of King County. In addition, Schipper served as PTSA president in both the Seattle and Highline School Districts, successfully leading school levy campaigns and serving as a PTSA legislative representative in Olympia. Schipper has been married to Mark Ufkes for 27 years and they have two sons who are both Eagle Scouts.
Joe Nguyen
Joe Nguyen was born and raised in the White Center/Burien communities:
As the son of Vietnamese refugees, my family was able to settle in Washington with assistance from social services. My experiences growing up in an immigrant community and being raised by a single mother due to a tragic accident that left my father a quadriplegic when I was only 7 years old, informs much of my service today.” I am the chair of Wellspring Family Services’ Associate Board, which works on issues related to family homelessness and is committed to housing 2,000 children and their families in the next two years. Part of the board’s work includes advocacy, and we were able to pass Wellspring’s first bill (HB2861) providing support for trauma informed care, which was signed by the Governor in the 2018 session. I am involved with police relations as a member of the Community Advisory Committee for the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight in King County. Our work focuses on building bridges between community and law enforcement to achieve equitable policing. Professionally, Nguyen works as a Senior Manager at Microsoft.
Here are all the candidates – 11 in total – according to the WA State Secretary of State website: Legislative District 34, State Senator:
  • Darla Green (Prefers Republican Party)
  • Debi Wagner (Prefers Independent Party)
  • Lois Schipper (Prefers Democratic Party)
  • Joe Nguyen (Prefers Democratic Party)
  • Sofia Aragon (Prefers Democratic Party)
  • Lisa Ryan Devereau (Prefers Democratic Party)
  • Shannon Braddock (Prefers Democratic Party)
  • Lemuel W. Charleston (Prefers Democrat Party)
  • Annabel Quintero (Prefers Democratic Party)
  • Hillary Shaw (States No Party Preference)
  • Courtney Lyle (Prefers Republican Party)
According to Ballotpedia:
As of the 2010 census, a total of 125,055 civilians reside within the 129.3 square miles of Washington’s thirty-fourth state senate district. The population per square mile is 2,136. The median age of these residents is 40.[2] Washington’s state senators represent an average of 137,236 residents.[3] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 120,288 residents.[4]The pay for this full-time, Olympia-based gig is $47,776/year, with a $120/day per diem.

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.