2022 Election Watch: May 3 Primaries

Primary season is officially underway! On May 3, thirteen RFS candidates have elections in Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Tennessee!! These state and local candidates are ready usher in a new era of progressive leadership in their respective communities. Take a look at each of them and volunteer to help out before Tuesday!

CANDIDATES

INDIANA

Austin Knox
Fort Wayne Township Trustee

Austin was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana to two public school educators. Austin’s parents instilled in him the importance of serving others and his community. He graduated with a bachelor of arts from Indiana University Fort Wayne. He began working at the Wayne Township Trustee Office in 2015. In January 2020, he was unanimously elected trustee at a caucus of Democratic precinct committee leaders of Wayne Township. Austin became the youngest ever Wayne Township Trustee.

Austin enjoys being involved in his community and making a difference in anyway he can. Austin serves on the City of Fort Wayne’s Board of Public Safety which is responsible for oversight of the city’s police and fire departments. He also serves as a board member and advocacy chair for the Allen County United Way. He is a founding board member for the Fort Wayne chapter of the Urban League’s Young Professionals. He also chairs the Fort Wayne chapter of the Indiana Democratic African American Caucus. Austin looks forward to continuing serving his community as Wayne Township Trustee.

Andrea Hunley
Indiana Senate, District 46
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Andrea is a community leader, mother, teacher, public school principal principal, adopted daughter, and advocate. For a decade she has been committed to serving children and families as an Indianapolis Public Schools Principal. Now, as an extension of that commitment to our community, she is running for Indiana State Senate.

Prior to her career as principal, Andrea taught high school English in one of the largest high schools in the state of Indiana. Andrea has a PK-12 administrator’s license, a Master’s Degree in Language Education, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education from Indiana University. She also holds a license to teach middle and high school English and a license to teach English as a New Language.

A lifelong Hoosier, she has been preparing for the last several years to run for a state senate seat (in addition to being a mom, principal, and serving on several nonprofit boards). She was in Class 2 of Hoosier Women Forward, a political leadership course for Democratic women. She has volunteered on campaigns offering expertise and insight on education policy as well as boots-on-the-ground phone banking and door-knocking.

Andrea is a proven leader with a bold voice and she is ready to represent Indiana State Senate District 46.

Ashley Eason
Indiana Senate, District 46
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Not everyone is lucky enough to be born in Indiana — some Hoosiers have to find their way home. Ashley and her husband Andy moved to Indianapolis for work but instantly felt at home. Indy has the perfect combination of hard-working innovators and friendly Midwestern charm. (Also, they never could have guessed the Indy 500 was what was missing from their lives!)

Ashley had quite the adventure getting to Indiana, and her experiences have prepared her for the challenges to come with governing. As a nonprofit executive, she has led teams and projects with business and government partners, so she has a unique understanding of the needs of each sector. She also understands how to achieve great outcomes with limited resources. She has deep experience leading bi-partisan advocacy teams connected with communities at the grassroots level — having coordinated 300 high-level volunteers across four Midwestern states.

From her Texas roots, to her time living in Memphis and D.C., she learned how different communities tackle their unique challenges. When she studied and worked abroad, she developed ways to build bridges across cultural divides to solve problems. These skills and more have prepared her to serve at the Indiana statehouse.

Karla Lopez Owens
Indiana Senate, District 46
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Karla is a community organizer and an attorney. She comes from a working-class, immigrant family and has lived in Indianapolis for over 20 years. Karla is running for the Indiana State Senate seat in District 46, located in Marion County, the most diverse County in the state.

For over 11 years, Karla has fought for social change in Indiana through grassroots organizing and legislative advocacy. Interpreting at a young age, Karla became a bridge between her community and social service agencies. As a young adult, she was introduced to the complex immigration system through her Citizenship process and learned to navigate these systems. As a registered voter, she started organizing around the same issues her campaign is focused on: full political participation for all, voter empowerment, transparency and accessibility to government, fair wages, racial justice and immigration reform.

Karla was the first to graduate from college in her family. After graduating with her Bachelor’s degree, she enrolled in law school and graduated with her Juris Doctor. She was sworn in to practice law in Indiana in 2021.

Karla has worked with the non-profit, private and public sectors. She has served on the Marion County Citizens’ Police Complaint Board, the Marion County Commission on Youth, has taught and tutored students with the Indianapolis Public Schools for over 8 year and co-founded the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance, 9 years ago. She currently serves as the Director of Community Outreach with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and lives on the East side of Indianapolis.

Max Gosman
New Albany Township Board
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Max is running for New Albany Township Board because it’s the most direct, efficient way to connect people in need with vital resources. If elected, Max will support the efforts of the Township Trustee, especially as they relate to job training programs and homelessness prevention. As the Township is responsible for cemetery maintenance, Max will also fight to protect and preserve Freedomland, a historically significant site that was a burial place for New Albany’s African American residents in the 19th century, but has fallen into disrepair and is largely forgotten. If elected, Max will advocate for funding and restoring Freedomland, and for making it a protected state or federal historic site.

MASSACHUSETTS

Gabriela “Gigi” Coletta
Boston City Council, District 1
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Fighting on behalf of her community is the only thing Gabriela “Gigi” has ever known. Raised by community advocates in East Boston, Gabriela grew up attending civic association meetings, neighborhood events, and even multiple protests against airport runway expansion with her mom, Nina. Gabriela has dedicated her entire life working in service to others and giving back to the beautiful, diverse neighborhood that has given her so much.

Gabriela brought her passion for public service in her role as Chief of Staff to Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards. She centered and amplified the lived experiences of those systemically overlooked in every policy discussion, constituent case, and civic engagement initiative.

Gabriela spent the entirety of her tenure in the neighborhoods of Charlestown, East Boston and the North End understanding constituents’ concerns to build bridges between differing populations. She exemplified collaborative leadership when tackling some of our district’s biggest challenges like housing affordability and development, inequities in our public education system, and the impacts of climate change on our coastlines. Gabriela is running for Boston City Council District 1 because she is the bold, effective, and inclusive advocate that this district deserves to fight for the community’s best interest, center the lived experiences of residents, and protect the vibrancy of our neighborhoods on day one.

Tania Del Rio
Boston City Council, District 1
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Tania is a BPS mother, a Latina immigrant, and a proven community leader running to be District 1’s strong voice for keeping this community together by fighting for attainable and affordable housing, quality schools, and environmental justice. Charlestown, the North End, and East Boston are dealing with an urgent displacement crisis resulting from rising rents, climate change, and the lack of equitable access to quality education in our school.

As the former Executive Director of both Boston’s Department of Women’s Advancement and YWCA Cambridge, Tania has a track record of advancing equity on issues of immigrant rights, access to childcare, pay inequality, and housing. Tania has the lived and professional experience to work alongside District 1 residents to accomplish bold goals while committing to delivering excellent constituent services.

OHIO

Melissa Kobasher
Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge
Volunteer with Melissa!

Melissa has worked in Lorain County for over a decade as a licensed attorney, practicing both family and criminal law, and currently serve as a Lorain County Court of Common Pleas Magistrate. She has a passion for justice and the safety of her community and takes pride in having an unmatched work ethic, firm knowledge of the law, and ability to make firm and fair decisions that bring positive changes to her community.

If elected, she will become the sole female on the bench of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. She will make the courtroom a place to connect with litigants and the community, maintain an efficient docket aimed at resolving cases in a timely and fair manner, and openly collaborate with agencies and programs to make a difference in the criminal justice process in Lorain County.

TENNESSEE

Arriell Q. Gipson
Shelby County Clerk
Volunteer with Arriell!

Arriell is a lifelong Tennessean who often draws on her Memphis roots to be deliberate and afraid of nothing. As a graduate of Leaders of Color, Organizing for Action, New Memphis Leadership Institute, and The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Arriell has worked in four diverse career fields all across the state of Tennessee that range from small business, non-profit, government, and public health. This unique life path has crafted a rich set of transferable skills, adaptation, and sharpened her ability to succeed in any environment. Arriell is currently a Public Health Coordinator in Shelby County, TN — the largest and most diverse county in the state of Tennessee — with three focal areas; community safety, community resilience, and violence prevention.

Arriell has an undeniable love for service and when she’s not leading and managing winning pollical campaigns she’s using her innovative mindset and contagious energy to volunteer in her community. You can always find Arriell at the corner where resilience and civic engagement meet as hundreds of Shelby Countians stand behind her. Arriell believes that on the ground you see the raw beauty of human connection and it’s there where change is birthed. This is why the A-Team has already spent months talking to neighbors, employees, business owners of Shelby County to include their voice in this campaign.

Arriell often shares that the County Clerk’s office may not be the sexiest office on the ballot (it’s second to last on the ballot) but it’s one of the most essential as nearly a million Shelby Countians interact with the services every single year. Arriell was employed by the County Clerk’s office and spent much time learning the history and identifying solutions for the plaguing issues the operations held. She knows what it takes to fix the low morale, decrease the long wait times, and make essential services more accessible to the people.

Arriell is committed to the positive growth of Shelby County. Arriell is The Answer.

Brian Bush
Chattanooga City Court Judge
Volunteer with Brian!

Brian is a Chattanooga native, lawyer, U.S. Naval officer, and community advocate running for Chattanooga City Court Judge. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Maryville College and earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law.

After returning home, he began his career as a legal liaison for the Chattanooga-based nonprofit organization, House of Refuge, where he advocated for alternative sentencing on behalf of non-violent offenders experiencing substance addiction and homelessness. From there, he served as an Assistant District Attorney for Hamilton County (TN), prosecuting violent crimes and felonies before joining a private firm.

Brian cares deeply about his hometown and believes that Chattanooga’s journey into the future requires fresh ideas and new visions, including in its’ court system. He is running to improve the lives of Chattanoogans through the municipal court by connecting them to local, life-improving resources that promote long-term stability and success, instead of burdening Chattanooga’s most vulnerable community members with unnecessary court costs and fines. Brian lives in Chattanooga with his wife, Mauriel.

Marcus Shute Jr.
Davidson County Criminal Court Judge, Division 6
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Marcus is running for Division 6, Criminal Court Judge in Davidson County, Tennessee. Marcus believe that integrity should be the guiding principle of every aspect of our justice system and that every citizen is entitled to respect and dignity.

Marcus knows firsthand what it’s like to be deprived of those things while dealing with the justice system, and he’s running to make sure that no one else will have to experience what he did ever again.

Montrell Besley
Hamilton County Commission, District 11
Volunteer with Montrell!

Montrell is a father, small business owner, community advocate, educator, and Chattanooga native running to become the first Commissioner for Hamilton County District 11. Montrell has a Master of Science focused in Public and Community Health from Austin Peay State University. Montrell’s goals as County Commissioner include investing in our public education, enhancing our public safety and strengthening our local economy.

Sara Beth Myers
Davidson County District Attorney
Volunteer with Sara Beth!

Sara Beth is an accomplished civil rights attorney, Vanderbilt Law graduate, statewide nonprofit founder, and community leader running for District Attorney in Davidson County, Tennessee, which includes Nashville. Sara Beth has been fighting for victims of racial and domestic violence, as well as prosecuting public officials, law enforcement officers, and private citizens when they violate people’s civil rights for 10 years.

She is running for District Attorney because Nashville cannot wait another 8 years for change. Her campaign is about modernizing and re-envisioning how we approach criminal justice. To make Nashville safer and our justice system more equitable, Sara Beth will focus on Crime Prevention, Civil Rights Advances, and Restorative Justice. For nonviolent offenses, Sara Beth will champion a restorative approach to heal communities without contributing to mass incarceration.

When elected, she will make history as the first woman District Attorney in Davidson County. Sara Beth lives with her husband and two young children in East Nashville, Tennessee.

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