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Black Lives Matter activist, longtime politician face off for Lynnwood City Council seat

A political veteran is taking on a 21-year-old who is new to politics, but hoping to make history.

LYNNWOOD, Wash — Two people running for Lynnwood City Council this year are looking to make history in their own ways. While they hold similar views, they come from different backgrounds and generations. 

Josh Binda is a fresh face in city politics. The 21-year-old University of Washington Bothell political science major is the son of Liberian immigrants who literally won a government lottery to be allowed to enter America.

Binda made a name for himself as an outspoken activist during the George Floyd protests last year. If voters approve, he would be the youngest African American ever elected to public office in Washington.

"I don't want that to define my campaign. I want to be defined by my character," said the Kamiak High School graduate. "To me it means being somebody who can be a catalyst for the younger generation to get involved in what's going on."

On the other hand, Lisa Utter is a no nonsense political veteran who previously served on the Lynnwood City Council from 1998 to 2009.

"Someone told me I was actually on the council when Joshua was born," joked Utter. "That was eye opening."

Utter raised a family in Lynnwood and helped pave the way politically for the light rail and its surrounding development when she was in office.

"I want to see that to completion and make sure it's done right," she said.

Utter said her deep roots in the community set her apart.

"I'm the chair of the cold weather shelter. I've been a volunteer at all the schools. I worked on the friends of the library. So, I have a lot of connections."

Binda and Utter are running for Position 3 on the council. Binda surprised many when he won the three-way August primary with 46% of the vote. 

Increasing affordable housing and encouraging diversity in the city are the top two issues for each candidate, who are very similar on paper, if nothing else.

The campaign could turn on matters of personality and perspective as Lynnwood writes its next chapter in the history books.

"I think I bring a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge," said Utter. "I think that matters."

"I'm sure she accomplished great things," said Binda. "I just think we're ready to move in a different direction here in Lynnwood."