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T'wina Nobles holds slim lead in bid to be first Black lawmaker in Washington State Senate since 2010

T'wina Nobles was a teen mother who overcame homelessness. If her lead holds, she would be the first Black state senator in the Washington legislature in a decade.

If T'wina Nobles wins the 28th District Senate race, she would be the first Black state senator in the Washington legislature since 2010. 

On Tuesday night, Nobles held on to a slim lead over her opponent, Republican Incumbent Steve O'Ban.

Nobles, a University Place School Board member and CEO of the Tacoma Urban League, asked voters to send her to the state Senate because she says she is ready to step up and serve her community. 

"It means a lot to me. And those who will come after me," Nobles said.

She is also thinking about who came before her, including state Sen. Rosa Franklin, who served a decade ago. No African American has had a Washington state Senate seat since.

"This morning, I called Sen. Rosa Franklin to thank her for blazing the trail," said Nobles, a mother of four who said she wants more diversity in the rooms where decisions are made.

But she said that some have used her back story as criticism. Nobles is candid about how her family struggled with homelessness and how she was placed in foster care.

"I got a message from someone in the community who said, you know, as a teen mom and as someone who married young, you're not qualified to run for office," she said.

Nobles pushed back on that idea.

"My message to everyone else is regardless of your background or your adversities, you are qualified to participate, to be civically engaged," she said.

The Democrat has been locked in a competitive race with O'Ban.

Last month, O'Ban said the race was about the candidates' two differing visions for the state.

"This election is about if the district wants somebody who is a Seattle-style progressive, supports an income tax on capital gains, and opposes $30 car tabs. Or wants to support someone, they know me, who has been fighting hard for $30 car tabs to make that a reality and to reform mental health," he said. 

Nobles said she hopes to take on a new role and break down barriers at the same time.    

"We have to work really hard to figure out how to get our community through this economy, how to get people back to work, how to help our students to access broadband to have technology to have their needs met."

RELATED: Pierce County race for 28th district sees two diverse candidates

RELATED: Black Washington lawmakers push for equity despite lack of diversity in Legislature