Young supporters gathered around Josh Binda Wednesday as he arrived at Edmonds College to announce his campaign for the 2nd District Congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen.
The 24-year-old Binda said that if his bid is successful, he would be the youngest African-American elected to Congress. Larsen has held the 2nd District Congressional seat for 23 years — almost as long as Binda’s been alive. Binda received cheers from an enthusiastic crowd eagerly awaiting the “new face in Congress” he promised.
During his speech, Binda — who is halfway through his first term on the Lynnwood City Council — focused on what he described as a desperate need for change and “fighters” in the political arena. He said that as a young, driven individual he hoped to inspire both people of his generation and older generations to be proud of themselves and take action.
“People closest to the pain of the people should be closest to the power of the people,” Binda said, referring to his background as a child of two Liberian immigrants and his own political activism.
He said that his campaign slogan, “We believe in now,” is focused on the importance of action, rather than mere hope for change. Supporters cheered his sentiments of “protecting America’s soldiers from war” and his endorsement of universal health care.
Binda was elected to the Lynnwood City Council in 2020. He spoke about initiatives that he endorsed during his two years on the council, such as a proposal from the city’s Human Services Commission to fund two mental health clinicians at Lynnwood schools and a funding request from Lynnwood’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts department to combat a surge in vandalism. In 2022, Binda supported a request allotting $25,000 in scholarships to the parks department. He attempted to double the amount requested so that more residents would benefit from the scholarship fund, but was unsuccessful in garnering enough council support.
During his time in office, Binda hosted a “Keeping It Real” seminar designed to encourage young adults to participate in civic involvement.
Binda said that he intends to balance his city council duties with his Congressional campaign.
Binda has faced challenges during his time as a councilmember. He was fined $500 by the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) for spending $2,913.09 of his campaign funds on personal items. The PDC also fined Binda for two instances where he failed to submit his financial disclosure paperwork as required by state law. He did not pay the fines and was ordered to pay the full $1,250 owed to the agency or face an additional $300 fine.
Binda also received backlash when he filmed a video in the Lynnwood council chambers about his then-upcoming Love Conquers All tour. When it was revealed that Binda had been paid over $20,000 for his speaking tour, he was accused by public commenters and fellow councilmembers of using his status as a councilmember and city property for personal gain. While he initially denied the accusation, Binda later signed a settlement agreement with the City of Lynnwood that confirmed the transgression with the stipulation that he did not know this was against the rules.
Binda and his supporters pushed back against these accusations. The NAACP of Snohomish County began an investigation of Binda’s treatment in May 2023. Preliminary results issued by the NAACP stated that City of Lynnwood officials and the news media treated Binda differently from other city councilmembers and he was unfairly targeted because of his race and age.
Binda has faced mounting criticism for his conduct, which culminated in a recall effort. The recall petition received approximately 1,050 signatures, but did not proceed as it failed to garner the required 2,416.
A continual theme of Binda’s speaking engagements, including the Love Conquers All tour, is the importance of love and understanding. When asked how he intended to reconcile the contrast of being a fighter and speaking about love, Binda responded that the biggest lovers in the world were also the ones that fight the most.
“I love my community and I want to stand up and fight for it. I want the change. I want to be the voice of that.”
–Story and photos by Jasmine Contreras-Lewis