Leon Threatt found his calling in the south Pacific.
At 19, he went to Hawaii and later Okinawa with the Marines. It was there that he made a discovery that would change his life.
“Somebody shared faith with me, and that became a living reality,” Threatt says.
Faith has continued to be part of Threatt’s life through careers in the military, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and eventually his own east Charlotte church. Now it’s central to his campaign for Congress in the 12th District.
He’s running in a May 6 Republican primary against Charlotte broadcaster Vince Coakley. To Threatt, 56, the race is an extension of his Christian beliefs.
“My faith has kept me connected to the things that are most important in life. (That) compels a person to be actively involved,” he says. “If I was not deeply connected to my faith, I certainly would not be doing it. That’s part of the responsibility of being a good Christian.”
Threatt was born in Monroe and grew up in Greensboro. His parents divorced when he was 6, leaving what he calls a “distressed” household.
“My upbringing was very dysfunctional,” he says. “We know what it’s like to have troubled family.”
He joinedthe Marines after high school, and his 10 years in the service took him to posts from North Carolina to the Pacific.
In 1982, he began his public ministry “evangelizing the lost and preaching the uncompromising Word of God” in Okinawa and later at bases stateside.
He moved back to North Carolina after leaving the Marines in 1987.
In Charlotte, Threatt joined the police department. He worked the beat in the Belmont neighborhood and later became a school resource officer at a pair of schools, including West Charlotte High.
Early in his time as a police officer, Threatt began another career.
He and his wife started Christian Faith Assembly, a church on Idlewild Road. They earned advanced degrees online from an Indiana-based divinity school.
Now they serve as co-pastors to the congregation of about 200.
This spring, he self-published a book called “Storm Warnings.” According to a blurb, it’s about the state of the country and “how to hold onto your peace and well-being when much of the nation is in turmoil.”
Threatt says he’s always been a Republican and counts Ronald Reagan among his role models.
In his first run for public office, he’s calling for smaller government and a return to traditional values.
“I would consider myself fiscally conservative as well as morally conservative,” he says.
He believes the federal government has reached too far in education, regulation and taxes.
Threatt and Democrat Rajive Patel are skipping the special election to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Mel Watt and running only in the regularly scheduled election. The two elections overlap.
The winner of the special election will take office in November. The regular election winner will be sworn in in January.