Election Watch 2021: Iowa, North Carolina, and Rhode Island Primaries
There are no off years…or off months! On October 5, six RFS candidates have primaries in Iowa, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. These six candidates are a part of a new and growing group of young progressives making a different in their communities by running for local seats.
Last week, our co-founder Ross Morales Rocketto discussed the importance of investing at the local level to build a stronger democracy and Democratic Party:
“We see the negative effects of these influences already playing out in states like Texas, Georgia and Florida where voting rights bills introduced this year tried everything from empowering partisan poll watchers to prohibiting election officials from mailing absentee ballot applications. This is not a trend that will reverse overnight. That’s why we need to focus our attention on state legislative and local offices. Maintaining the Democratic trifecta in DC, gaining seats in the Senate and fighting back against bad legislation all begins with the offices in our communities — not on Capitol Hill.”
Every election matters and our ability to recruit, support, and empower young democratic leaders will be the deciding factor between whether or not we move forward as a country. Get to know our October 5 candidates and if you’d like to help us recruit and support more candidates to run, donate today!
Davenport City Council, Ward 7
Alexandra Dermody has been an active member of the community for many years. She’s worked in the nonprofit sector as a community organizer, focusing on electoral organizing, census work in 2020, and integrated voter engagement with Quad Cities Interfaith. She’s also led the Education Equity task force, a task force of Quad Cities Interfaith, to end the School Resource Officer (SRO) program and police contracts with the school district and find comprehensive solutions to the disproportionality black and brown students face in Davenport. She also serves on the board of directors for several organizations where she works in mental health advocacy and rights & housing justice, amongst other things. Her main platform points include revitalize the west end and the older neighborhoods, attract more business, expand community investment programs, and bring comprehensive restorative justice reform to make the community safe for everyone.
Marion T. Johnson
Durham City Council, Ward 1
Marion is a social justice consultant who works with non-profits and foundations. From leading salary negotiations as the NC Justice Center union chair, to promoting a more democratic process with Durham’s participatory budgeting program, Marion has spent her career championing equity, justice, and liberation. She’s now running for Durham City Council in Ward 1 on a justice-centered platform, including housing justice, economic justice, and social justice.
As the daughter of Nigerian immigrants raised in North Carolina, Marion is proud and grateful to choose Durham as her home. Durham is at a crossroads, and can become a city that prioritizes unsustainable development in a few areas while neglecting long-standing communities, or an equity-centered city that prioritizes accessibility, affordability, and livability for all. Durham’s future depends on leaders making the right choices, and Marion is running because she has the values and commitment to make those choices.
Durham City Council, Ward 3
AJ Williams is a 34 year old, Durham local with several years of community organizing experience. Most recently, his political work includes organizing to expand holistic investments in community-led safety and wellness with Durham Beyond Policing, bailing out Black women, femmes, and gender non-conforming caretakers, striving to end the cash bail system and pre-trial detention with Southerners on New Ground (SONG); and organizing with BYP100 Durham Chapter to address gender-based violence and interpersonal harm.
He’s serving his second term as an appointed member of The City of Durham’s Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee and is on the movement board of The Cypress Fund. He has worked in non-profit finance for 4 years at Southern Vision Alliance and serves on the Program Design Team of the We Are The Ones Fund, a municipally-funded project aimed at addressing gun violence in Durham through funding community-authored solutions.
His vision for Durham is for communities to be empowered and supported in self-determining needs and solutions that hold it’s citizens in their full dignity. His platform serves to honor the historic legacy of the city, while building the future for generations to come.
Leonardo “Leo” Williams
Durham City Council, Ward 3
Leonardo Williams is a former teacher, school administrator, and current small business owner. He is running for Durham City Council so that everyone in Durham is able to create their own legacy through economic mobility, community safety, a thriving local economy, and access to opportunity. A two-time graduate of North Carolina Central University, Leonardo possesses a broad portfolio in education policy, community development, mental health, and business development across North Carolina. He eventually transitioned from full-time educator to full-time small business owner. Sacrificing everything, he and his wife opened the only full-service authentic Zimbabwean restaurant in the United States.
Housing, community safety, and the pandemic are top priorities in Durham. However, Leonardo believes that we must understand how economic mobility affects all of these issues. It is increasingly difficult for residents in Durham to find financial prosperity. Without it, people cannot access basic necessities like food, healthcare, and shelter. Leonardo believes that we have a responsibility to ensure that Durham residents should not merely live to survive but they should prosper and succeed. Leonardo has focused on a holistic approach to issues facing Durham. He is a grassroots practitioner and will continue to value all perspectives and ideas of his city in his work. Leonardo was called by his community to seek this position, and he would be proud to represent the people of his great city.
Hendersonville City Council, At-Large
Raphael Morales is a Community Equity Advocate, LGBTQIA+ Advocate, Political Activist, Organizer, author and performing/recording artist in Hendersonville, NC. Raphael is running for Hendersonville City Council to bring the informed concerns of communities left out of important conversations amidst a historic period of commercial growth, economic volatility, concentrated gentrification, housing crises and the increasingly disparate regional impacts of climate change.
Raphael is working to equitably improve the quality of life for Hendersonville residents by advocating for the city to adopt modern, informed community consent and data driven, well-measured and sustainable responses to the unique obstacles we face.
Rhode Island Senate, District 3
Geena was born in Arlington, MA to a single mother who emigrated from Vietnam. Her mother‚ a refugee‚ worked seven days a week to ensure that she and her brother had food on the table and a high-quality education. Geena learned through her the value of hard work, integrity, and humility.
After growing up in public housing, she became the first in her family to attend college and earned a degree in education at UMass Boston. Geena works as a public high school English teacher. Inspired to run by her students, she is dedicated to ensuring that each of them have a safe and dignified future. If elected she would become the first Asian American to ever serve in the RI General Assembly. She is committed to centering racial and climate justice in every piece of legislation passed, from education, to housing, to criminal justice. In her free time, she volunteers as a board member of Cozy Rhody Litter Clean-up‚ an organization that brings people together to keep parks and neighborhoods free of litter. When elected, she will continue to work with her neighbors to build safe and livable communities.