Who is Dimitri Cherny?
Honest. Decisive. Visionary. Compassionate.
"He has a big heart for helping people. He's smart. He's honest. He has been down and out and knows what it's like. He's knows economics. He's approachable- a regular guy. He's a good listener. Talk to him. Ask him questions." - quote from a supporter March 2016
"Meeting with you gave me such hope that there are still honest politicians who are looking to sit in office to truly help the people. Your vision for which you stand is undoubtedly the most heroic thing I have heard yet. Going back to the basics and showing the citizens, your voters, and showing them it's not about your financial status (the billionaires) and how you can stand to profit from being in office, but how the people you serve will profit from having you in office. That to me, is worth more than anything. Which is why I will support you." - quote from a supporter March 2016
Dimitri Cherny is a champion for the people. At one time he had it all - a long career in the high-tech industry which took him all over the world, a custom home in an exclusive seaside community, a hefty salary, and a large 401k. Then the recession hit and he lost everything. Unable to find work, his resources drained away until he found himself homeless.
Dimitri eventually found work as a long distance truck driver, where he met an America he didn’t know existed. Many lived paycheck to paycheck, one car repair or medical bill away from disaster. He also met heroes - people who had taken a stand to make the world a better place. Forever changed by his experience, he joined them, working on issues of racial justice, education, gun violence, public transit, homelessness, and equal rights for all.
Running for Congress is the next step. The challenges of a community can often be met by making changes in the law. In order to further his fight to ensure quality of life in the Lowcountry, Dimitri is running to replace Mark Sanford in Congress for the First Congressional District.
Born in 1960, Dimitri was the second child and first son in a family of seven. His parents were Eastern European World War II refugees. Childhood friends recall him as a “little scientist,” always curious about the world. He spent much of his youth in the mountains of New England, hiking, sailing, climbing and canoeing. After earning an electrical engineering degree, he began a successful career in the high-tech industry as a product manager. That work first took him all over the country and then all over the world.
He traveled to third world countries with desperate poverty, where a few had incredible wealth while most suffered. He also visited nations where even a low wage worker could hope to own a home and not have to worry about illness or old age. Each time he returned to the US, where the country was embroiled in an unnecessary war while the middle class was rapidly disappearing, he questioned how things had become so unbalanced. In 2007, Dimitri became disillusioned selling software to the Fortune 500 while civilization was seemingly heading for collapse. Looking for more meaningful work, he invented and patented an airborne wind energy system and started a company to develop it, which brought him to South Carolina.
When the recession hit, investors for renewable energy dried up. Unable to find another job, penniless and homeless, Dimitri found himself living in his car and off the kindness of friends and family. Desperate and ready to make a sign to beg at a highway off-ramp, he saw an ad for a no-money down truck driving school. He began a new career driving big-rigs, eventually traveling through 47 states. While driving the highways of America, he met people in every state who he didn’t know existed. The majority were fearful and struggling, one small disaster away from ending up on the street. They couldn’t get ahead, couldn’t save even a dime, couldn’t afford healthcare, had no job security, and were increasingly discouraged about the future they were leaving behind for their children. It became clear that our current economy is a zero-sum game, rigged to keep the winners winning, and the losers losing. But what could one person do against such a system?
In 2014, Dimitri decided to run as an independent write-in candidate for Congress against Mark Sanford. After the votes were tallied that November, he had received more than 8,000 votes, almost ten percent of the vote in Charleston, an unusually high percentage for a write-in candidate.
After the election, Dimitri stepped up his social justice work. He became one of the founding members of Black Lives Matter Charleston. He helped form the Charleston chapter of SURJ, Showing Up for Racial Justice. After the Emanuel AME murders, he spearheaded an effort to remove the flag from the South Carolina Statehouse and helped to get more than a million signatures, which pressured the governor to take action. Within a couple of months of the murders, Dimitri helped form Gun Sense SC to educate South Carolinians on the efficacy of gun purchase background checks. Dimitri also works to promote equal educational opportunities, encourages art for social justice, assists in the movement to expand the public transit system in Charleston, stands up for the LGBTQ community, participates in the movement to prevent offshore drilling, and is passionate about helping the homeless. He has worked to find resources and land for a tiny house village or micro-apartments and connected the numerous people and organizations working on similar projects helping the homeless. His goal has been to make a lasting positive difference in the lives of as many people as possible and to fight for those without a voice.
Dimitri’s successful rise and unpredictable fall through the American economy made him realize how easily and unexpectedly any one of us could find ourselves in a similar situation. Roughly 75 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, many earning starvation wages and unable to put anything away in savings. Even those who are making larger salaries are on shaky ground, denied cost of living increases and robbed of job security and pensions. Looking to make an even bigger difference in the quality of life of Lowcountry residents, Dimitri believes that what's really needed is a fight for economic justice and the best way to do that is via federal legislation. That's why he's running for Congress.