My name is Chanan ("huh-nan") Suarez. When asked to run for Bellingham City Council, I saw an opportunity to be a part of building a strong, bottom-up movement in Bellingham for a working-class politics that fights for justice for all.
As a worker and renter, like so many of us, I see the urgency in pushing for bold action at the city level. As a gay, Jewish, Venezuelan-American I see that we must secure safety through solidarity.
I grew up in Miami, Florida, in an immigrant family. Throughout my childhood, finances were a point of stress and my family experienced both periods of middle-class precarity and the realities of being a part of the working-poor.
When I graduated from high school, I signed up for the US Navy. It was a very challenging and formative experience. I served five years honorably, two years stationed in Okinawa and the last three with a Marine Corp Infantry Unit in Iraq.
Experiencing war forced me to start questioning basic assumptions about how the world worked, and when I returned from service my life would take on a new urgency and direction.
After my time in the military, I moved to Seattle and lived on Capitol Hill for seven years. During that time I went to school, worked, and organized. I co-founded the Seattle chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and served as its president for three years. I also organized within the LGBTQ community and started the Queer Ally Coalition
to respond to intensifying gay-bashing amidst gentrification.
I moved to Bellingham, Washington in 2013 and went to Western Washington University where I earned a degree in Spanish Language and Literature. As soon as I graduated, I got a job at the Social Security Administration, where I am a steward in my union, the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3937.
As a bilingual claims specialist, I get to hear about the daily challenges that so many in our communities face. Now, as an organizer with Whatcom Democratic Socialists of America and a first-time candidate, I’m hearing even more people’s stories every day. And every day I become more convinced that we have so much at stake in making sure that each of us has what we need to live a full, wholesome, and self-determined life.