6 Elected Positions You May Not Know (And the Candidate Running for Them This November)

There are thousands of elected local positions across the country that play a massive role in the day-to-day functions of our lives that most of us don’t even know exist. In our current political landscape, positions at the federal level — and a few down-ballot seats like State Senator — get all the shine, but positions like county clerk and water conservation commissioner affect your access to the ballot and whether you have clean drinking water.

If we want to see improvements in our communities, it’s imperative that we learn about and invest in every single seat on the ticket. TL;DR: your local county magistrate is just as important as your member of Congress.

Take a look at 6 positions you may not know about and the RFS candidate running for them this November.

1. COUNTY COMMISSIONER

The responsibilities of a County Commissioner may vary from district to district, but generally a county commissioner works to ensure that the concerns of citizens are being addressed and that federal and state requirements are being met. They may help with adoption of a county budget, implement new fiscal policies for the county, oversee the budget of county employees, and represent the county on advisory boards that provide direct and county related services such as airports, libraries, community corrections, hospitals, mental health centers, day care centers, and nursing homes.

Mai Chong Xiong
Ramsey County Commissioner, District 6, Minnesota

Mai is a mother of two, community activist, first-generation immigrant, and current legislative aide to Saint Paul Councilmember Dai Thao. As an elected official, Mai plans to help push for low-interest loan programs that rehabilitate & repair homes; streamline recycling and composting; and adopt a transparent, participatory budgeting process where residents in Ramsey County directly determine a portion of the county’s annual budgets.

2. COUNTY CLERK

Election administrators are the local backbone of our democracy and county clerks are at the heart of this process. County clerks and other local election officials manage and oversee our voting process. This includes updating machinery at polling locations, providing transparent and accessible information on voting results, supporting potential candidates as they attempt to get on the ballot, and creating voter/civic education materials for the residents of their district. To learn more about the importance and work of election administrators, check out RFS’ newest, Clerk Work campaign.

Anthony Vega
Lake County Clerk, Illinois

Anthony is an organizer, advocate and public servant who has rooted his career in educating, organizing, and empowering historically underserved communities. With experience in organizing around environmental advocacy and criminal justice reform, Anthony is running to protect free and fair elections from those that wish to undermine the integrity of our elections.

Linh Nguyen
DeKalb County Clerk, Illinois

Growing up in communist Vietnam taught Linh to cherish Democracy. Voting rights are sacred to Linh and she believed every eligible voter should have equal access to the ballot. Her Ph.D. training as a computational scientist and my experience as the President of the League of Women Voters of DeKalb County uniquely qualify Linh to deliver free, fair, and accessible elections and safe, complete, and available records.

3. COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUDGE

Common pleas judges are one of the many branches of the state judicial system that often goes ignored. Judges who are elected to the Court of Common Pleas handle a myriad of cases ranging from criminal to divorce/custody arrangements all the way to juvenile offender cases. Because of this, Common Pleas Judges are some of the most consequential in our court infrastructure, with the power to build equity on the bench or perpetuate disparities in the criminal justice system. As of today, Delaware, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are the only states with Common Pleas Courts, with the responsibility of these courts usually being handled by district or circuit courts in other states.

Jennifer O’Donnell
Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Ohio

Jennifer is a public defender in Cleveland, Ohio who has dedicated her career to representing thousands of members of her community who cannot afford legal representation. This experience has given Jennifer a deep and intimate understanding of the criminal justice system in Cuyahoga County and the need for change. Jennifer sees the urgent need for judges ready to work with county government to improve conditions in the Cuyahoga County Jail, prioritize bail reform, and expand mental health and substance abuse services for defendants.

Melissa Kobasher
Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge, Ohio

Melissa has worked in Lorain County for over a decade as a licensed attorney, practicing both family and criminal law, and currently serves as a Lorain County Court of Common Pleas Magistrate. She has a passion for justice, the safety of her community and takes pride in having an unmatched work ethic, firm knowledge of the law, and ability to make fair decisions. If elected, she will become the sole female on the bench of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas.

4. CONSERVATION ELECTEDS

Whether it’s flood control, clean water, or affordable utilities, leaders elected to conservation positions are some of the most important local officials. Different types of conservation positions have existed since the 1930s and usually reflect the specific geographic needs of a community. Generally speaking, conservation electeds — water board members, flood control trustees, conservation supervisors — are charged with ensuring that local natural resources are clean, affordable, and accessible and establishing local level policies to address climate and man-made occurrences that compromise environmental sustainability. There are thousands of conservation positions across the country, so be sure to check in with your district to see who runs your water board or elected conservation efforts.

Sage Rafferty
Santa Clarita Valley Water Board, Division 2, California

Sage is a U.S. Arm veteran who has managed production, maintenance, and engineering, including wastewater treatment systems throughout Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valley. If elected, Sage plans to prioritize water treatment maintenance infrastructure, sustainability, and groundwater supplies.

Rae Vander Werf
American River Flood Control District Trustee, California

As a scientist who works on water issues and has studied flood control issues, Rae cares deeply about these and other related issues facing their community. If re-elected, Rae will push for carbon tracking and carbon neutrality, greater flood protections, and more feedback from the residents of Sacramento on environmental safety.

5. COUNTY TREASURER

County treasurers — who are often elected officials — oversee the finances, taxes, and budgets of public services for a specific county. Some of their duties include creating budgets, the disbursement of county funds, and managing accounting services. Some county treasurers are also responsible for issuing business permits. As of 2008, 38 states elect their county treasurer.

Cassandra “CJ” Johnson
Champaign County Treasurer, Illinois

Cassandra “CJ” is a retired Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer currently working on her doctorate in Organizational Change and Leadership. As the Champaign County Treasurer, CJ plans to improve processes and provide strategic vision for the staff, while engaging the community to rebuild their trust in the office. If elected, CJ would be the first African-American woman sworn in to a countywide office in Champaign County.

Matt Strabone
La Mesa City Treasurer, California

Matt is a professional treasurer and attorney who is passionately committed to doing the right thing. Whether he’s fighting to pass crucial transparency and ethics reforms or volunteering his fiscal and legal expertise to charities and others in need, Matt strives each and every day to build a better community. Since moving to California 18 years ago, Matt has had a successful professional career that included passing government laws in cities and states across the nation and performing legal work for President Barack Obama and other elected leaders.

6. ADVISORY NEIGHBORHOOD COMMISSIONER (DC)

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANC) only exist in the District of Columbia. The position is one of the newest elected offices having been created in 1974. Generally speaking, ANCs promote, support, or reject policies and programs affecting areas such as traffic, street improvements, zoning, economic development, police protection, trash collection, and the city’s annual budget. As of today, there are 40 ANCs in D.C.

Steven McCarty
DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission, District 2G04, Washington, D.C.

Steven McCarty is a community champion for working families and youth. Steven is fighting to make our streets and alleys safer for our children, families, individuals, and pets to enjoy. He wants to focus on the utility of public and green spaces and collaborate with relevant D.C. agencies to better support small businesses. As an advocate for underserved youth and member of the LGBTQ community, Steven worked with the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. and SMYAL to secure $100,000 in annual funding to start SMYAL’s Clinical Services Department, a program that offers free, affirming, mental healthcare to queer and trans youth in D.C.

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