There’s no sugarcoating it: The past few months have been heart-breaking. While our nation comes to grip with the on-going effects of coronavirus, millions of people have taken to the streets to protest the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
We are more committed than ever to our efforts to elect anti-racist leaders into positions of power so they can make meaningful progress on combating racism, creating policies that support the emotional, economic and structural success of Black and Brown communities, and especially important right now, ending police brutality against Black people.
On June 2, 27 RFS candidates are running for local elections in their communities. These aspiring elected officials (and incumbents) are moving to create meaningful changes that reflect the short-term and long-term goals of their constituents. This work is always difficult, but the emotional and physical toll right now is even harder. Marching alongside their brothers and sisters; organizing food drives and essential supplies for residents in need; advocating for policy changes to address the most insidious forms of discrimination at the local level; canvassing virtually. We are in an unprecedented time in our nation’s history and the need for change is not coming from the top, but from the grassroots.
As Barack Obama stated, “…When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government. And yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.”
Take a look at 27 candidates working towards that goal below.
Indiana House of Representatives, District 49
Amanda Qualls is running for Indiana State House because it is time for new perspectives and new solutions to challenges at the statehouse. Amanda has worked in mission-driven organizations throughout her career. Most recently, she served as Human Resources Director for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. Prior to joining Pete for America, Amanda was the Director of Human Resources at Ballotpedia, a nonprofit organization that strives to connect people to politics.
Amanda is currently an at large member of the Goshen Community Schools Board of Education. Amanda is passionate about public education, the environment, and access to healthcare for all Hoosiers.
Indiana House of Representatives, District 4
Ben is the son of two educators and has over 10 years of experience managing a small business. In Indiana, Republicans hold majorities in the State Senate and House and the governor’s office, and our public schools are underfunded and over-tested, our workforce is being undermined, and our healthcare services are being attacked. We need to bring balance to our state government and that’s exactly what Ben’s goal is. Indiana’s government is hoarding tax dollars while leaving behind workers, veterans, our environment, and children. Ben is running to put things right.
Gardiner Bink III
Hamilton County Council, At Large
Gardiner is passionate about his community and wants to do his part to keep Hamilton County a great, family friendly community. The county government has been run by one party for too long. Gardiner will bring a different perspective to the council and greater transparency and insight into the operations and agreements in the council. He plans to do this by running our council with fiscal responsibility to continue to foster growth in our community.
Tippecanoe County Council, At Large
Monica is a first generation immigrant from Mexico whose family was undocumented until Reagan’s Amnesty Law. Monica credits this act of Congress as changing her family’s life; moving them out of the shadows and living a life without fear.
Monica is running for Tippecanoe County Council-at-Large in north central Indiana. She is the first Latinx woman to run for office in her community. She is running because she wants local government to be representative of the community it serves. Currently, she is the Assistant Director of Lafayette Urban Ministry’s Immigration Clinic and she also teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) to adult learners.
Indiana State Senate, District 16
Tim is a high school teacher running for the Indiana State Senate to fight for his students. He is an active leader in his local chapter of the Indiana State Teachers Association where he regularly advocates for students and teachers. Special interest groups have made education a partisan battleground in Indiana and across the United States. Tim is one of over thirty Hoosier teachers that have answered the call to run for office this year.
Tim is running to ensure every student has access to a quality education. Public education funding was a major issue in Indiana before COVID-19 struck. This virus has exposed the inequality across schools in Allen County and Indiana. At the end of the day we want our kids to have better opportunities than we had. If that’s the case, then we need to ensure they have the tools to be successful.
Montgomery County (MD) Board of Education, At Large
Dalbin is a former teacher, current Maryland Education Policy Fellow, and current Program Manager running for Montgomery County Board of Education’s soon-to-be vacant At-Large seat.
Dalbin is running to close the opportunity gap, recruit and retain quality teachers, partner with the school system to develop culturally-competent curriculum, and implement culturally-relevant instruction. These priorities are set to be tackled under the Three C’s: career, college, and community. Dalbin wants to utilize policy to ensure that each student and family is as successful as they can be within those three pillars.
Dalbin’s experience as an ELA and math teacher and school social worker gives him the in-school experience to intimately understand the challenges our schools face. Dalbin’s experience as a Preventive and Foster Care Social Worker has given him the opportunity to hear firsthand from families what their issues within the school system are. Finally, Dalbin’s experience as a Program Manager working on policy has given him the chance to take that knowledge and work on policy that helps these same communities thrive. Dalbin views education as an investment that requires people constantly working to make it an investment worth investing in.
Baltimore City Council, 12th District
Dave Heilker has lived in Baltimore City for almost his whole life; it is where he was adopted at four months old. Dave is a community organizer who specializes in digital engagement and communications, and has organized with Baltimoreans for Educational Equity (BEE), Strong Schools Maryland, The Baltimore DSA, and Baltimore vs Everybody.
He is a Democrat running for Baltimore City Council, District 12, because he believes that no one we love should have to suffer so that giant institutions can profit. If we start from the bottom and build up, we’ll have a healthier, more equitable city for all.
Anne Arundel County (MD) Board of Education, District 6
Erin is a public school teacher who believes it is time for someone directly from the classroom to have a voice in the Board of Education. She has been teaching English and Theater for the past 13 years while serving as the drama program director.
She earned a B.S. in English/Secondary Education from Towson University and went on to complete a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from the Catholic University of America. Active in her teachers’ association, she has advocated at the local and state level for increased education funding after years of shortages.
Baltimore City Council, District 14
Born and raised in the city of Baltimore, Joe has committed his life to serving his community. From serving on the streets of Baghdad helping to ensure Iraqis were able to hold their first national democratic elections to returning home and fighting to ensure the children of Baltimore have access to a world-class education in schools that are safe and fun, Joe currently serves on the Parent and Community Advisory Board for Baltimore City Public Schools and as a Vice President of his community association.
Joe’s urgency to address the systemic issues that have plagued Baltimore for decades is what fuels his campaign. He believes a community-centered public health approach that prioritizes investing in people will help Baltimore achieve its motto as being the Greatest City in America.
Baltimore City Council, District 1
Paris Bienert is a community organizer, social worker, and native Southeast Baltimorean. She is a well-known political activist in Baltimore, as well as a leading voice for women and youth involvement in the political process. In 2018, Paris was elected to the Democratic State Central Committee and was then chosen by her colleagues to serve as Chair of the Committee in Maryland’s 46th District. In that role, Paris led the efforts that doubled voter turnout in the First District in 2018. Now, she is running for City Council to implement bold, progressive solutions with immediate local impact.
Baltimore City Council, 12th District
Phillip is deeply connected to the day-to-day struggles faced by his community. He is a public interest attorney that has dedicated his career to providing legal assistance to Baltimore City residents facing foreclosure, eviction and consumer debt collection. Before practicing law, he managed youth mentoring and internship programs.
Phillip seeks to further equality and economic justice in his City Council District by championing equitable housing development, a fair and living wage, and targeted community-based investment. Phillip and his husband Mike live in the Greenmount West neighborhood in East Baltimore.
Montana State Senate, District 40
Jacob is a life-long Montanan who wants to serve his community. He comes from a middle-class background, living in a family of 7 in Helena’s North Valley. As a legislator, advocate, and public servant, he will continue to fight for your family as hard as he fights for his own.
Running for office is Jacob’s way of giving back to the community that raised him. With this race, we have the opportunity to make real change for communities that are left out of the national discussion. Jacob has made history as the youngest candidate for any legislative seat in the United States. But this race isn’t just about making history, it’s about fighting for real people and real families. Jacob is the candidate for the job.
Jacob knows what Montanans value, and those values are what guide the policy he’s fighting for throughout this campaign. Jacob is fighting for robust mental health programs and the expansion of hospital capabilities to combat our mental health crisis compassionately and effectively. He is an advocate for our public lands, and will stand up to big corporations, corrupt billionaires, and out-of-state groups who want to exploit and privatize our lands for their own profit. And Jacob believes that every Montanan should be empowered to succeed, which is why Jacob supports a public pre-K program, so that we can invest in the next generation of Montanans.
Montana House of Representatives, District 64
Josh chose to make his home in Montana 11 years ago. Florida born and Wisconsin raised, Josh settled in the Gallatin Valley at the age of 23 and has worked a variety of jobs: seismic mapping exploration, food delivery, and working for an environmental lawyer. For the past five years, Josh has worked as a fly-fishing guide on some of Montana’s most precious resources, including the Gallatin, Smith, Madison, and Yellowstone rivers.
Frequent travel and a love of the outdoors helped him learn about Montana, while his engaging and extroverted personality helped him learn about its people. Josh has gained a unique perspective about life in Montana, the needs and wants of everyday working Montanans, and the best path forward for the state, based on years of simply talking, listening, and engaging with the people of Big Sky Country. For Josh, one thing is abundantly clear: Montanans believe we must ensure the last best place stays that way.
District Attorney, 4th Judicial District
Brett is running to be the next District Attorney for New Mexico’s Fourth Judicial District, an office never held by someone from Mora County, where Brett lives with his wife. When Brett was a teenager he was arrested for marijuana possession. It was the sense of hopelessness he felt going through the legal system that made him want to become a lawyer. Now, as a contract public defender, he represents people in similar situations, but without the privilege that he had as a teen. And seeing how his community’s most vulnerable people are treated by the criminal legal system is what made Brett want to run for District Attorney.
As a contract public defender and Mora County attorney, he sees the issues facing his community every day. He has handled hundreds of felony cases, including attempted murder, armed robberies, drug trafficking, and auto burglary. This experience has shown him that our criminal legal system is broken. He sees clients struggling with mental illness and substance abuse going to prison when what they need is treatment. He sees families being separated and children left without parents. Justice is not being served. As District Attorney, Brett’s top priority is to make the Fourth Judicial District a safer place for everyone to live, work, and raise their families. He plans to achieve that goal by increasing access to treatment, using more diversion programs and other prosecution alternatives, and restoring faith in the District Attorney’s Office by treating everyone fairly under the law.
Santa Fe County Clerk
Katharine Clark is a small business owner with over 10 years of high-level management practice, including building effective teams. She believes that we need to make it easier for people to vote, not harder and protect their access to the ballot. As a tech consultant, she will use her skills to make the County Clerk’s office user- friendly for everyone.
Katharine has served in several capacities in New Mexico’s State Legislature, as well as in several elected positions in the Democratic Party. Her MBA from the University of New Mexico is in Public Policy & Human Resources. She also holds a dual BA in Cognitive Neuroscience & Interdisciplinary Studies from UC Berkeley. Katharine is a 2017 alumna of EMERGE NM, an organization dedicated to changing the face of power, politics and leadership in order to have policies that are responsive to all Americans.
Pennsylvania State Senate, District 17
Amanda Cappelletti is an attorney with a Master’s in Public Health serving as the Vice Chair of the East Norriton Board of Supervisors. She has experience in Harrisburg with organizations like the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Planned Parenthood. After law school, Amanda was accepted into the inaugural William Penn Fellowship Program through the Governor’s Office.
Now she’s running for State Senate, District 17, because the incumbent is ineffective. The district deserves a Senator who will push for progressive values, and work with their colleagues to achieve those goals. Amanda will bring back dignity and respect to the office.
Andre Del Valle
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 175
The 175th District is Andre’s home and he loves it, but the residents there are struggling. The opioid epidemic has ravaged Andre’s communities leaving needles and lives lost in its wake. They have schools that can’t open for the fear of poisoning our students with the very air they breathe. Gun violence is on the rise, blue collar workers can’t pay their mortgages, and college graduates are drowning in debt.
Andre is offering his community “A Better Vision”: a district where they are building bridges not having people sleep under them, a district where students don’t have to use “safe corridors” to walk to school or fear school closing due to being poisoned by the very air they breathe. He sees a district that has properly funded school facilities and retains their amazing teachers. Where they close loopholes and create Red Flag laws so those who are a danger to themselves or our community don’t have access to weapons, preventing mass shootings. Andre’s vision is that those same students will be able to apply to every state university because they’ve waived the application fee breaking down a barrier to higher level education and provided tax credit for those who have ridiculous student loans.
Bernard A. Williams
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 198
Bernard A. Williams grew up in the lower Northwest section of Philadelphia. After matriculating through Cheltenham and Philadelphia public schools, he decided to stay in Philadelphia to attend college, majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance.
Currently, Mr. Williams is a payroll consultant for Robert Half International, and serves on the 39th Police District Advisory Council. He also serves as the chairperson for the Youth Aid Panel which is a diversion program at the District Attorney’s Office.
Through his knowledge of public policy, public relations, and community event organizing, he decided to run for Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, District 198 in 2018. Although he was not successful, Bernard continues his work in the district since 2018 and is running again in 2020. He believes we need someone in Harrisburg to advocate for education, social justice, and economic development, and that will fight for the issues of the new generation as well as older citizens.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 168
Brittany is running for the Pennsylvania State House (168th District). After receiving her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, Brittany worked in federal and local government. She is currently the Director at an economic consulting firm and specializes in community and economic development. Brittany will advocate for progressive legislation and work tirelessly to: 1) balance development with open space, 2) invest in early education, and 3) increase government transparency. Brittany is a proud mom of two and a military spouse, she will fight to make sure that ALL our children, businesses, and families have the opportunity to thrive.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 20
Emily Kinkead is a Pittsburgh native with a deep love of the area. Emily was first spurred to action in Democratic politics in support of LGBTQIA+ issues and has fought for equality at every level ever since.
She is an attorney who has advocated for HIV+ individuals, low-income tenants, criminal defendants, and immigrants seeking asylum. She has over a decade of experience working on policy and advocacy for issues including disability rights, campaign finance reform, gerrymandering, and healthcare research. Emily believes that PA State House District 20 deserves a proactive representative who will fight for progressive policies to make our government work for working people.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 36
Jessica Benham is running as a Democrat for state representative in PA House District 36 because she wants to protect workers’ rights, fight for investments in infrastructure and education, and ensure that everyone has access to healthcare. Jessica is the Director of Development for the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy (PCAA), a grassroots self-advocacy project run by Autistic people for Autistic people. As a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, Jessica was involved in the efforts to organize a union of graduate workers. She has served on numerous boards and committees in HD 36.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 30
Lissa Geiger Shulman is running for State Representative because she believes Harrisburg isn’t working for working families. As a former teacher, early education advocate, and young mother, Lissa is putting forth bold solutions to the problems working families face every day, with a focus on making healthcare more affordable and accessible, investing in our public education, and creating family-sustaining union jobs.
Lissa is running in PA HD-30, just outside of Pittsburgh, which is a top target seat to flip the Pennsylvania State House.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 181
Malcolm Kenyatta was elected to serve as state representative for the 181st Legislative District, Philadelphia County, on November 6, 2018. He is a product of Philadelphia public schools, a graduate of Temple University, and Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government.
He currently serves as Vice Chair of the Philadelphia Delegation and as a member of the Governor’s Taskforce on Suicide Prevention as well as a host of committee leadership positions. As the first openly LGBT person of color and one of the youngest members elected to the PA General Assembly, he is deeply committed to creating an equitable and inclusive society.
As a legislator he has championed proposals to address generational poverty, raise the minimum wage and protect workers rights, increase access to mental healthcare, common sense measures to address gun violence, and protecting our digital infrastructure.
In 2016, he was elected as Delegate to the Democratic Convention (PA 2nd), garnering the second highest vote total of any delegate in the Commonwealth. He has also appeared on local and national media outlets to discuss systemic poverty, affordable education and childcare, and how to make government more accountable to citizens. His election was turned in an award winning short documentary, ‘Going Forward’ produced by Seven Knot Productions which premiered on ‘The Atlantic Magazine Selects’ in 2018.
Pennsylvania State Senate, District 31
Shanna is a public school music teacher, a mother, and a community advocate running for Pennsylvania State Senate, District 31. Shanna believes we need leaders with real lived experiences like those of the people of this district- leaders who will take on the underfunding of public education, unaffordable healthcare, the student debt crisis, and our looming environmental catastrophe, with bold legislation and a clear vision.
Shanna ran for State House in 2018 as a Run for Something endorsed candidate, is a founding member of her local democratic club, serves on the State Democratic Committee, is an Emerge PA graduate, and is ready to serve on Day 1!
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 175
The daughter of a hairdresser, Vanessa learned the importance of hard work and perseverance. Vanessa was the first in her family to attend college. After graduating, she worked in immigration law, helping individuals and families navigate the red tape to safely and successfully enter the United States. After attending Temple Law School and clerking on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Vanessa spent her career working as a litigator and a champion for women in leadership positions. She is a tireless volunteer for numerous non-profit boards, focused on education and progressive policy.
Through her career as a lawyer and advocate, Vanessa saw the ways government could be used to improve people’s lives, and how it has failed to do so. Vanessa is running for office because she believes that the government has a great capacity and responsibility to listen to what people need and act to make their lives better. The 175th District needs an advocate and a champion that won’t be held accountable to special interests and lobbyists, but will be accountable to the people.
Washington, DC Council, Ward 2
Jordan is a fifth generation DC resident and former Obama Administration, Capitol Hill, DC federal district court, and DC Medicaid official. He’s running to represent Ward 2 on the DC Council to end corruption, fight for DC statehood, and equity for our schools. Additionally, he will work to make it easier for residents to afford a home, find high-quality child care, walk, bike, or take public transit, and pay off student loan debt.