After more than 10 years working on issues surrounding LGBTQ rights and marriage equality, Washington State Human Rights Commission chair Charlene Strong said she sees the city council position 8 seat as her next platform for involvement.
“Upholding the rights of all citizens is a valuable part of what we do not only in our state but in our city,” Strong said.
Strong, now 54, said her human rights work began with the Pet Project, which aims to provide pet care support for low-income pet owners with HIV/AIDS more than 20 years ago. But it wasn’t until her late partner was killed in the Madison Valley flash flood in 2006 that Strong was thrown into the limelight. She was barred from entering her partner’s hospital room, prompting her to fight for state legislation that recognized domestic partners.
Strong moved to Seattle in 1979 after her father retired from the Coast Guard and began environmental work with oil spill recovery and cleanup. She has 25 years of experience in dentistry as a dental assistant and in medical office management, and currently lives in Magnolia with two kids and manages her wife’s physical therapy business in Interbay.
She said she hopes to broaden her civic service in a new way by making homelessness her first priority in city council. She wants to use available land only for long-term, permanent housing options and invest in agencies like Mary’s Place, which she considers to have proven effective methods.
She strongly opposes safe injection sites. Strong said she has seen the devastation of addiction firsthand, her brother having spent time living in his car as an alcoholic.
“It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the concept that we should allow people to come into a site and willfully put a poison and toxin into their body,” she said.
Strong, as a small-business owner advocating for homeowners’ rights, is a candidate who would attract more conservative or centrist votes compared to other high-profile candidates. She has raised over $47,000, according to the Ethics and Elections Commission.
Strong said there needs to be more time spent looking into HALA requirements and finding ways to do things better. She said that density makes sense in “corridors that have the best transit routes” but said she fears apartments are pushing out commercial spaces and wants to maintain the vibrant neighborhoods.
As a member of the Greater Seattle Business Association, Strong stands by their letter sent to city council on July 6 asking for the current proposal to be re-visited before finalization. She said she supports the statewide income tax but is worried about the city income tax’s burden on small-business owners.
On police reform, Strong said anything that can aid in accountability of police officers and help the city see and learn more, is something she supports. She supports body cams and said they could have been pivotal in the case of Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old black mother of four who was killed by police in June. She also said that proper training must be pursued in de-escalation and that the police force should make less lethal force their number one priority.