Meaningful Work At The Local Level: Meet our May 2021 Endorsement Class

Today, we’re excited to introduce you to 50 new RFS endorsees running in 18 states across the country.

In 2021, RFS’ endorsement consist of:

Even more important than their stats, our candidates bring a unique perspective to office, based on their experiences and the concerns they have for their communities. Take a look at the backgrounds of a few of this month’s endorsees:

  • Bridgette Craighead is a single-mother, and social activist that made national news for organizing the first Black Lives Matter chapter in rural southwest Virginia and then again for speaking up when a photo of two local Police officers, posing inside the Capitol, surfaced after the events of January 6th. If elected, she will be the first woman and first woman of color to serve as representative for VA State Delegate in district 9.
  • Rhett Dietz is a farmer and social worker also running for Virginia State Delegate. Rhett decided to run for office after seeing the fallout of COVID-19 on her brother’s education due to a lack of affordable, functioning internet in Southwest Virginia. As an elected official Rhett wants to ensure that rural communities have the same opportunities to thrive and function in times of crisis.
  • Community advocate Judy Pineda Neufield is running for Somerville City Council in MA to continue her work in service. Judy’s background — a working class Latina and Jewish woman — has propelled her need to serve underrepresented communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic Judy acted as the head of Somerville’s Immigrant Services Unit, bringing resources to her immigrant neighbors under her city’s emergency response team.

As we continue to build the progressive bench from the bottom-up we are excited to support and amplify more talented, young progressives already making a difference at the local level. Get to know the rest of our May endorsement class and if you want to help us recruit more candidates to run and win, donate or volunteer today.

CANDIDATES

CALIFORNIA

Alfredo Hernández
Westchester-Playa Del Rey Neighborhood Council, At-Large
https://twitter.com/Hernandez4NCWP

Alfredo is a nonprofit organizer with experience in helping community stakeholders engage groups historically left out of the political conversation. He is running to be the At-Large Director for the Westchester-Playa Neighborhood Council of Los Angeles, CA.

As a candidate, his focus is on making the Neighborhood Council the ground floor for community organizing. He believes that the Neighborhood Council should be the first line of action in addressing the causes and issues he and his community care about: better resources for public schools, more green spaces and environmental protections for the wetlands, and solutions with dignity for all his unhoused neighbors. Beyond making the Neighborhood Council a force for community good, Alfredo wants to mobilize the political power of younger residents, like himself, who have been left out of the community writ large. He believes government is best when it is diverse, and he wants to work to have the council better represent the beautiful complexity of his neighborhood.

Alfredo is a life-long Angeleno and the son of two Mexican immigrants. He has lived in Westchester-Playa for 6 years, and is a volunteer with organizations looking to alleviate the hardships associated with homelessness. When not working or volunteering, he loves talking with his neighbors as he walks his rambunctious poodle-mix, Madela.

COLORADO

Fernando Branch
Centennial City Council, District 1
https://www.branchforcentennial.com

Fernando is an educator and social justice advocate with the ambition to discover new and innovative ways to create equitable approaches toward city and educational policy-making for all Colorado residents. He is running to represent Centennial, District 1, because he believes in servant leadership that works collaboratively to use both public and private partnerships to provide Centennial residents quality access, opportunity, and cost-efficient services to our growing community. Fernando lives in District 1 with his wife and two daughters.

Jeslin Shahrezaei
Lakewood City Council, Ward 1
https://jeslin4lakewood.com

After months navigating the pandemic, Jeslin found herself with a new challenge-parenting during an incredibly destructive wildfire season. With kids that experience respiratory issues, many days were spent indoors during the summer. This was against the backdrop of an already challenging situation with COVID-19.

There are many reasons for wildfires, but climate change is a key driver in their increased intensity in recent years. Jeslin understands that we need policy level change to ensure sustainability and climate action are a top priority with our city leaders. Jeslin is running for City Council because we need creative thinking in Lakewood. The challenges coming out of the pandemic are unprecedented and we have seen the same tired narrative in Lakewood for too long.

Jeslin and her husband are raising 3 kids in Lakewood, where they put roots down 8 years ago. She has worked in the non-profit sector for the last 14 years, with a focus on youth development. Currently Jeslin is a director at an agency focused on providing climate action service opportunities for young adults 18–24 years old. As a first generation Iranian-American, Jeslin uses her father’s courage and commitment to community as a north star in community work.

Jeslin’s experience in community-centered work will be valuable as we exit the pandemic with an increased need for creative and collaborative solutions during these unprecedented times.

Kate Miya
Thornton City Council, Ward 3
https://www.kateforthornton.com

Kate grew up in Thornton and has been a teacher in the community for over a decade. She is running for city council because she wants to expand on the work she already began as a teacher who has been able to positively impact students and families. Over the years, Kate has served on boards and commissions in Thornton ranging from arts and culture to recommending funding to programs that meet people’s basic needs. Kate is proud to be multiracial. Her dad is Japanese-American and her mom is British/Mexican-American. She believes in equity and inclusion and will continue to fight for all people in her community.

As Thornton continues to grow, Kate is the leader who will listen and represent her community with respect, compassion, and a solution-oriented focus. Her love, passion, and understanding of the community will greatly assist her in advocating for every person in the community.

Obi Ezeadi
Westminster City Council, At-Large
https://www.voteobi.com

Obi is a political outsider and successful entrepreneur fighting to challenge the status quo and design a better future that inspires hope, healing, and courage for all Westminster residents. He is a first-generation American and the son of Nigerian immigrants, with lived experience as a survivor of childhood poverty, police brutality, and racial discrimination. Having defied great odds to achieve individual success, he knows what it’ll take to achieve community advancement.

Obi’s goal is to revive city council with diversity of thought, fresh perspectives, and compassionate leadership. He will forge a new bond with residents, molding the government into a true deliberate democracy — one that empowers residents with an elevated voice representative of their needs and values. Obi will engage and empower marginalized groups to tell their stories, helping all of Westminster to learn, unlearn, and evolve as a community. He believes that if we can work together to ensure we increase the quality of life for all residents, this will result in reduced crime, increased property values, and more productive classrooms.

Rebekah Stewart
Lakewood City Council, Ward 3
https://rebekahforlakewood.com

Rebekah has spent her career working with and advocating for individuals in the disability community in Colorado. As a music therapist, she works to increase opportunities for her clients to have the same quality of life we all deserve. Her background drives her desire to make sure that everyone has a voice in shaping local government and in what we want our neighborhoods and city to be.

Rebekah will work to ensure further investment in sustainability to ensure cleaner air and water, reduced traffic, safer streets, and expanded trails and parks. She cares deeply about ensuring that families and residents are not priced out of housing as the city grows, and will prioritize keeping the community safe and getting people back to work and school during this recovery.

CONNECTICUT

Anthony Owusu Afriyie
The Town of Stratford Planning Commission

Anthony is a recent college graduate, who just completed 10 months of national service with AmeriCorps NCCC during the pandemic. Anthony is a first-generation American whose parents immigrated from Ghana, West Africa. He believes that being a public servant is about the improvement of people’s lives. Ultimately establishing a fair and just society, where all peoples have a fair shot at life. His professional, academic, and volunteer experience in government, and nonprofits has given him the ability to actuate his communities needs.

Anthony is running to represent the 5th District, one of Connecticut’s most diverse towns. Post pandemic he seeks to advocate to advance the town of Stratford against its economic, educational, social, and systemic challenges.

IOWA

Alexandra Dermody
Davenport Alderwoman, Ward 8
https://alexfordavenport.wixsite.com/2021

Alexandra 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 revitalizing the west end and the older neighborhoods, attracting more business, expanding community investment programs, and bringing comprehensive restorative justice reform to make the community safe for everyone.

KANSAS

Jae Moyer
Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees
http://www.jaemoyer.com

Jae (They/Them) is a candidate for the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees, a proud Johnson County, KS native, and an activist for LGBTQ+ rights and public education in the state of Kansas. Their platform is about Equality, Education, and Opportunity: Jae wants to create a more equitable campus for Johnson County Community College students, create safe spaces for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students, and help create more affordable options for college

Melanie Arroyo
Lenexa City Council, Ward 3
http://www.Melanie4Lenexa.com

Melanie is a clinical counselor and art therapist providing bilingual therapy services to the community in Kansas City. Melanie has experience working with a range of populations to address issues of trauma, family distress, and immigrant issues.

Melanie’s experience working with clients from a range of backgrounds is what inspired her to run for local office, because she realized that successful mental health treatment requires a supportive and affirming community. She is running for Lenexa City Council for Ward 3, to bring empathy to conversations from members of our community, multicultural considerations when working through our agenda, and evidenced-based approaches in community development.

Ty Gardner
Overland Park City Council, Ward 4
https://tyforop.com

Ty is running for City Council in Overland Park, Kansas to help change expectations and bring a new generation into local government. Raised in poverty in a single-parent home, Ty was exposed to some harsh realities growing up. Ty used education to escape the poverty cycle, attending the University of Kansas to pursue his undergraduate and law degrees, and Indiana University for his master’s degree in business administration.

Ty hopes to use Overland Park’s status as the second largest city in Kansas to help change a red state’s perception of what Democratic policies are and how they can be implemented to make life better for our residents. He is focused on thinking big on the issues that will define local government for the next generation. As someone who openly receives treatment for depression, Ty will work to support and destigmatize mental health treatment. He is committed to backing diversity and inclusion efforts to create a community where everyone feels a sense of belonging. And he plans to use his status as a millennial candidate to help encourage more young people to participate in local government.

MAINE

Lawson Condrey
Portland Charter Commission, At-Large
https://www.condreyforportland.com

Lawson has lived in Portland since 2014, and currently calls North Deering home. Being active in the community and local government has always been incredibly important to him. As a preacher’s kid he was taught the importance of service and giving back. His first job out of college was working on President Obama’s ’08 campaign. He currently serves on the City of Portland’s Community Development Block Grant Committee. Additionally, he has been a volunteer with Portland Adult Education since 2016 assisting teachers in English writing classes for recent immigrants and refugees.

Lawson’s guiding principle is making sure that those who are elected make the political decisions so we can ensure accountability. He also is excited about the opportunity to increase representation on the City Council so more people have a voice. This would increase access to representatives by making districts smaller and allowing more people to be engaged in the process. He’s energized by the opportunity to have a big impact on a small city like Portland and ensuring the government is set up to be accountable, accessible, and transparent.

MARYLAND

Keanuú Smith-Brown
Annapolis City Council, Ward 3
http://www.ksbward3.com

Keanuú is the eldest of six siblings and a first-generation college graduate. He was born in Annapolis, Maryland and raised by his mother, Tameka Smith, in public housing communities. Keanuú survived histiocytosis (a cancerous disease) at the age of two, after undergoing months of chemotherapy and radiation. He also grew up surrounded by abuse and domestic violence, witnessing journeys of survival — from addiction to cyclic incarceration. Having personally experienced mental health illness, Keanuú knows the importance of providing access to mental/physical health resources and services.

In December 2017, Keanuú graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Public Policy and a minor in Philosophy. From 2019–2020, he was the scholarship manager and legislative assistant for District 30A Maryland State Delegates Alice Cain and Dana Jones. Keanuú served as President of the District 30 Democratic Club from 2020–2021 and from 2019–2021, served on the Board of Directors. Currently, he is a substitute teacher at the first elementary school he attended.

Keanuú vows to help save our Families, Finances, and Future with a platform of Public Safety, Police Reform, Immigration Support Services, Food/Housing Security, Human Wellness, Youth Engagement, Fiscal Responsibility, Community Wealth, Environmental Justice, and Extended Transportation Access.

MASSACHUSETTS

Judy Pineda Neufeld
Somerville City Council, Ward 7
https://www.judyforsomerville.com

Judy is running for City Council because she believes Somerville deserves a city councilor with both the lived and professional experience to take bold action on our common challenges from day one.

Judy is a Latina and Jewish woman and the proud daughter of immigrants. She has helped lead Somerville through the Covid-19 crisis as the head of the Immigrant Services Unit, bringing much-needed resources to her immigrant neighbors under the city’s emergency response team. She is also a small business owner who built her own leadership development company after recruiting, training, and supporting thousands of women to run for office while she was with the nonprofit Emerge. Judy also consults mission-driven organizations on how to lead through a lens of inclusion, equity, and justice. She authored the Mayor’s Food Access Agenda for the City of Boston following a strategic planning process, and developed a long-term leadership development plan centered on equity for the largest progressive organization in Florida.

As City Councilor, Judy will fight for more affordable housing, an accessible and livable city, and an equitable Covid-19 recovery plan.

Ruthzee Louijeune
Boston City Council, At-Large
https://www.ruthzeeforboston.com

A grounded, thoughtful, and inclusive leader, Ruthzee is the person Boston needs to build a more prosperous and equitable city. Ruthzee was born and raised in Boston and is passionate about her hometown — her first job at the age of 14 was as a walking tour guide, offering a people-centered history of Boston’s neighborhoods. An experienced lawyer and a daughter of working class Haitian immigrants, Ruthzee will fight for a budget that reflects the values of Boston residents and a more affordable city for working class families.

Ruthzee has practiced before Boston Housing Court representing families facing eviction and foreclosure and has worked on cases before the U.S. Supreme Court expanding voting rights. She served as the senior attorney on Senator Warren’s presidential and Senate campaigns. When she was just a student, Mayor Menino appointed her to a committee to redesign the student assignment process in Boston Public Schools.

Ruthzee has the passion, conviction, and experience to meet the urgency of this moment as we come out of the pandemic. Her candidacy is historic: she would be the First Haitian-American elected to represent Boston citywide. She is a graduate of Boston Public Schools, Columbia University, Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School. She is trilingual with French and Haitian Creole and is conversant in Spanish.

Willie Burnley Jr.
Somerville City Council, At-Large
https://www.willieforsomerville.com

Willie has seen firsthand how people-powered movements can transform the urgency by which we tackle systemic issues through his experiences fighting on the frontlines of today’s most pressing social movements and staffing the re-election campaigns of both Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey. Now, he’s running for City Councilor At-Large to ensure Somerville is safer, stronger, and more sustainable through transforming public safety, passing a Somerville Green New Deal, and ensuring we have permanently affordable and accessible housing.

Willie is a queer community organizer, renter, and former union member with Teamsters Local 122 and knows from lived experience the impact of economic, racial, and environmental injustice. In 2017, he was displaced from Somerville. Ever since he worked his way back, Willie’s been fighting to ensure that we close the gap between his community’s stated values and its reality. From organizing for housing as a human right and alongside communities of color with Just Us Somerville for racial justice, he knows that by putting the power in the hands of residents they can create a Somerville that is more affordable, accessible, and accountable.

MICHIGAN

Carrie Budzinski
Livonia City Council
https://carrieforlivoniacouncil.com

Carrie has been passionate about government and democracy since her first visit to Washington, DC when she was 9 years old. After graduating from college with a dual major in History and Political Science, she worked for Senator Carl Levin for over 5 years handling constituent services in the areas of Social Security, Veterans Affairs, Housing and Education.

2020 brought to light a lot of problems and pain in our country. A global pandemic, economic insecurity for workers and business owners, racial injustice, climate change and a pervasive political divide. The problems can feel overwhelming but we have to start somewhere and Carrie believes we can have the biggest impact where we live.

Carrie is running for Livonia City Council to use her experience with constituent services to connect with her neighbors, understand what improvements can be made in their community, and work to find solutions that make Livonians feel good about where they live.

Carrie lives in Livonia, MI with her husband and two sons. She works full-time managing the operations of LittleGuide Detroit and is active in multiple community organizations and hosts a monthly education web series called Vote.Run.Serve.

Gabriela Santiago-Romero
Detroit City Council, District 6
http://gabrielasantiagoromero.com

Gabriela is an immigrant from Mexico, raised in Southwest Detroit and an active organizer in Michigan. She’s the policy and research director at a state based movement organization. She has spent her whole life fighting for justice and will bring her core value of putting people first to local government.

Jon Akkari
Dearborn City Council
https://www.jonfordearborn.com

Jon is an attorney and activist dedicated to fighting on behalf of working families. As the son of a Lebanese immigrant that has worked 40 years as a union tool and die maker, and proud mother and homemaker, Jon understands the day-to-day struggles that ordinary people face. Jon is the first member of his family to graduate from a four year university, and to obtain a professional degree and license. In law school, Jon fought for the rights of unemployment beneficiaries falsely accused of fraud by a broken system, and to ensure equal access to the legal profession for visually impaired people. As an attorney, Jon represented injured litigants against greedy insurance companies. As Dearborn’s next City Councilmember, Jon will advocate for a welcoming community that invests in the success of its residents.

MINNESOTA

Dillon Gherna
Minneapolis City Council, Ward 11
https://www.dgmpls.com

Dillon is a public safety professional running for Minneapolis City Council in Ward 11. Professionally, Dillon serves the over 1.2 million residents of Hennepin County as the Public Initiatives Coordinator where he works to identify and develop initiatives to help prevent crime, build community trust, increase public safety, and expand community education. As a former small business owner and private-sector leader, Dillon knows and understands the many challenges it takes to accomplish significant change.

As an openly gay man, Dillon is no stranger to not having a seat at the table. Over the years he has fought for equal rights, tackled challenging issues to create ease of access to programs, and created space for inclusive representation in everything he has been involved in.

Dillon is running for city council because he believes that everyone deserves to feel safe in their community, he believes that we need to address the housing crisis with long-term solutions, he believes we need to support our business community to help small businesses survive, he believes we need to tackle systemic racism at all levels of our government, and he believes elected leaders need to be actively listening, readily available, and have honest discussions with constituents.

Jason Chavez
Minneapolis City Council, Ward 9
https://www.jasonchavez.org

Jason is an organizer, policy worker, renter, and proud LGBTQ+ Latino with experience fighting for renters’ rights, immigration justice, economic development, and changing the criminal justice system. He’s running for the 9th Ward City Council seat in Minneapolis, the area he was born and raised in, by his parents who are Immigrants from Mexico.

Jason works at the Minnesota House of Representatives where he is on the Workforce Business Development Committee working on efforts to rebuild the 9th Ward, expanding unemployment insurance, creating youth employment opportunities, and ending pre-emption of rent control statewide. Jason has the lived experience of working-class families in Ward 9 and the policy experience to bring people in, govern with the community, and get things done.

Kelsey Waits
Hastings School Board ISD 200

Kelsey is a community activist, mother, and PhD student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Kelsey is seeking re-election to the Hastings School Board where she currently serves as Board Chair. Over the last four years on the board, Kelsey has advocated for more equitable schools, environmentally friendly practices, and financial responsibility. She has also worked hard to ensure that community voices are represented at the decision-making table, advocating for School District transparency as well as intentional outreach to traditionally marginalized communities.

Outside of her School Board and graduate school roles, Kelsey also serves on various committees including: Hastings Environmental Protectors, OutFront Minnesota Action (an LGBTQ+ advocacy group), and the Friends of the Library Board. Kelsey is the mother of two amazing children, two dogs, two adorable rabbits, and three gerbils.

Kelsey would love the opportunity to continue representing her community on the school board and to be a voice for equitable practices that ensure each and every child in her district has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Nick Kor
Minneapolis City Council, Ward 7
https://www.nickkor.com

Nick is an organizer and coalition builder for progressive change running for Minneapolis City Council at a pivotal moment. He is a former Bush Fellow, Civic Engagement Director for the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and he’s been a leader in Minnesota on progressive causes for the last decade. From helping to defeat the anti-marriage amendment in 2012, to passing the strongest anti-bullying legislation and addressing racial and gender equity through hiring practices on major public infrastructure projects, Nick is someone who knows the power of working alongside people and organizing for change.

Nick is running to represent the people of Ward 7 to build a city that belongs to everyone at a critical moment in the city after the killing of George Floyd, a devastating pandemic, and an affordable housing crisis. He believes it’s time for experienced leaders who listen and can inspire us to reimagine systems of public safety, recognize housing as a human right, and prioritize community revitalization efforts that puts people and the planet first.

Tom Anderson
Minneapolis City Council, Ward 2
https://reimaginempls.com

Tom is a former public school teacher, coach, teachers union representative, and is currently the Director of Government Relations for Students United; a nonprofit organization that represents Minnesota State university students and advocates for higher education policies that will make a positive impact for university students and their communities. He is deeply rooted in his community and has served on the Longfellow Community Council Board of Directors and as the Neighborhood Development and Transportation Committee co-chair. He currently serves on the World’s Best Workforce Equity Advisory Committee for Minneapolis Public Schools, in addition to being the Outreach and Inclusion Officer for the Senate District 63 DFL.

Tom lives in the Longfellow Neighborhood of Minneapolis with his wife, Ellie, and their two sons Remy (3) and Julien (4 months). In their free time, you can find them running around Brackett Park or stopping into one of the many amazing shops or restaurants on East Lake Street.

Tom’s vision includes increased transparency and open communication with his neighbors as he pursues progressive policy solutions. He will focus on fostering a culture of listening and learning, in order to bring authentic and effective leadership to city hall. Tom hopes to reset, reimagine, and rebuild a new version of Minneapolis that is safe, sustainable, and just.

MONTANA

Christopher Coburn
Bozeman City Commission
https://www.coburnforbozeman.com

Christopher is a community health advocate and collaborator. Christopher is from a non-Indigenous family that has called Montana home for generations. He’s guided by an intention to have a positive impact on the communities that raised him — and he has a strong history of showing up.

Christopher has worked on numerous initiatives aimed at improving the lives of his neighbors — including developing a supportive housing program, hosting community conversations around domestic violence, and leading a mental health education campaign — and has served on the Gallatin City-County Board of Health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christopher is running for Bozeman City Commission because he believes Bozeman has the opportunity to be a leader in creating the type of strong, equitable, inclusive, and just communities we all deserve. Against the backdrop of a devastating state legislative session, Christopher will be an unwavering voice to advocate for health, working families, LGBTQ+ people and folks of color. He’s committed to fighting for affordable housing, addressing the climate crisis, and increasing access to services that folks need to thrive — such as childcare, healthcare, and transportation.

NEW JERSEY

John Malchow
Watchung Borough Council
http://www.votewatchung.com

John is an attorney and former educator with experience drawn from working in small business, government, and as a first responder. He’s running to represent his hometown on the Watchung Borough Council, and working to build good schools, good roads, and green spaces. John is a problem solver who approaches issues with a kind heart, strong moral compass, firm command of the facts, and a sense of humor. A lifelong resident of Watchung, John practices law throughout the State of New Jersey.

Mico Lucide
Atlantic County Clerk
https://www.lucideforclerk.com

Mico is a lifelong Atlantic County resident running to serve as County Clerk. Mico is a progressive Democrat who believes the core of being progressive means having our government be representative of, and responsive to, our communities. He grew up working poor with divorced parents. He is proudly the first member of his family to graduate with a 4-year degree. He pushed past the struggles of poverty to become more than was expected of him. When his mother suffered a severe stroke in 2012 with no health insurance, he was forced to navigate difficult-to-find resources to stay afloat on his own. This experience led him to commit that if nothing else in his life, he would be a resource for people.

He wants to reflect that mission in the County Clerk’s office. The County Clerk is uniquely positioned to be a central civic resource for voters. He wants to bring voting resources out into the community, making it easier for people to register, vote, and understand the voting process from start to finish. He wants to increase transparency, accessibility, and accountability in our government by ensuring our ballot is fair, makes sense, and is easy to read for all voters. He is committed to modernizing the Clerk’s Office and making it an engaged part of our Atlantic County community.

NEW YORK

Bridget O’Toole
Greece Town Justice
https://www.otooleforgreece.com

Bridget is a working mom of a young toddler, civil litigator and partner at her law firm, and is now running to be the first Democratic woman elected to Greece Town Court in Western New York. Bridget is running for Town Justice to challenge the inequitable status quo that has been upheld in Greece by lopsided representation in her town’s government.

In her law practice, Bridget holds state and local governments accountable for their actions in applying and enforcing the law. The current Town Justices’, whose backgrounds come from criminal and family courts, continue to uphold a strong ‘law and order’ stance which has disproportionately affected minority youth and poor folks in the community.

Bridget understands the impact the town court justices have in the school to prison pipeline from her position as a volunteer with Rochester Teen Court for almost a decade. Bridget’s background brings a diversity and viewpoint that differs from those currently on the bench: she intends to advocate for changes in the administration of Greece Town Court that will promote justice and equity for all who appear before the court.

Carolyn D Hoffman
Monroe County Legislature, District 25
https://www.carolynforthecounty.com

Carolyn is running for Monroe County Legislator on a compassionate, justice oriented platform. She is the CEO of a holistic consulting practice where she is a strategist and organizer for social movement campaigns. A resident of the PLEX neighborhood in Rochester, NY, some of her work and service include the Police Accountability Board Alliance, Flower City Noire Collective, and the Monroe County Democratic Committee. She is a WomenElect graduate and has also worked as an EMT, a youth & child education professional and a care professional for adults and children with disabilities.

Gabriella Romero
Albany Common Council, Ward 6
https://www.gabriellaforalbany.com

Gabriella is a public defender running for the Albany Common Council in Ward 6. As the City of Albany battles unprecedented challenges in public health, schooling, housing, policing, and accessibility, combined with the struggle of small business, our city cannot afford timid steps or weak leadership. With a career dedicated to strong advocacy and strategic collaboration as attorney in an adversarial system, Gabriella is well prepared to stand up unapologetically for progressive reforms.

Gabriella’s priorities are: 1) shifting the way our city views public safety by defunding military-grade weapons and machinery, and investing in programs that actually prevent crime; 2) increasing affordable housing options, combating gentrification by allowing people to age in place; and 3) making a more walkable and accessible 6th ward.

The daughter of Puerto Rican parents who were lifelong, union-proud state workers, Gabriella believes in the power of public service and grassroots, people-powered movements. As the next councilwoman for Ward 6, Gabriella will continue to redefine what is politically possible and prioritize people over profits in our neighborhood and in our city.

Giselle Martinez
Newburgh City Council, Ward 1
https://www.martinezfornewburgh.com

Giselle is a life-long City of Newburgh resident, first generation American, and proud daughter of Mexican immigrant parents. Like many working families, she grew up watching her parents work double shifts to put food on the table. Her early experiences of hardship inspired her to get involved with her community and become a fierce advocate for women and immigrant rights, racial equity in education, and environmental justice.

For the past decade, Martinez has been an active community leader. She began her journey at the age of 14, volunteering with several local non-profit organizations. While in college, she had the opportunity to gain experience working for the New York state government and currently, still works for the State Assembly. She is the secretary of the Newburgh City Democratic Committee and the Vice President of the Young Democrats of Orange County.

Martinez’s platform is focused on improving the quality of life for Newburgh residents by targeting housing, infrastructure, and environmental issues in the community.

Harris Weiss
Broome County Clerk
https://www.weissforcountyclerk.com

Born and raised in Upstate New York, Harris Weiss moved to Broome County to attend Binghamton University and fell in love with the community outside the University bubble. He decided to get involved, set down roots, and call Broome home.

With experience as legislative assistant and caseworker for state and federal elected representatives, Harris has advocated for much needed policy changes and fought to provide individuals the services they deserve. During COVID-19, Harris coordinated with the State Department to help evacuate constituents from overseas when flights were grounded worldwide, fought to get people their stimulus checks from the Federal government, and helped people obtain their unemployment benefits from a broken system. Currently, Harris is the Sponsorship Director for the LUMA Projection Arts Festival, an internationally recognized festival that brings tourists to Binghamton from all over the world.

Harris is running for Broome County Clerk because residents and businesses deserve a government that works better for them. He has heard the concerns of outdated and confusing processes, lack of accessibility to physical locations and public records, and failure to adapt to the needs of the community. Harris is ready to focus on modernization, accessibility, and transparency in the Clerk’s office to better serve Broome County residents.

Joe Bennett
Onondaga County Legislator, District 15
https://www.electjoebennett.com

Joe is a public school teacher, union representative, and community advocate running for Onondaga County Legislator in District 15 to build a government that works for all people. Joe grew up in poverty facing the struggles of everyday working people. As a first-generation college graduate, he realized how the support of a community could give people a chance to get an education and find their passion. Joe wanted to give back by encouraging students to overcome adversity and follow their dreams, so he pursued a Master’s degree in science education.

For the past six years, Joe has been teaching in the Syracuse City School District, leading clubs for students, and advocating for employees in the teachers’ union. Outside of school, Joe has worked on campaigns to remove lead from housing, support police reform, and make the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. Through all of these experiences, Joe understands the challenges that working families face in Onondaga County. Once elected to the Legislature, Joe will fight for budget fairness, economic opportunity, and transparency.

Justan Foster
Rensselaer County Clerk
https://www.fosterrensco.com

Justan is a public sector compliance innovator and expert in managing data and promoting technology to help close gaps between those in search of services and those entrusted to provide services. Justan serves his community as a Trustee for Family Camp focused on ecology and inclusion and as a Music Director for several religious institutions.

Justan is running for Rensselaer County Clerk where he plans to use his skills in records management, technology research, and legal study to promote best practices and close the gap between marginalized communities and resources. Justan is focused on promoting accessible services and fostering a welcoming environment in an area where demographics are changing rapidly; providing resources and opportunity for small businesses (especially those considered disadvantaged) to grow and succeed while using sustainable practices; increasing transparency around county services and spending through open data; and working to develop a partnership with local education providers to develop programs that allow local students to learn from, contribute to, and enhance county services while building their resumes.

Kevindaryán Luján
Orange County Legislature, District 4
https://www.lujan4newburgh.com

Orange County Legislator, Kevindaryán, is a first generation Colombian American and a City of Newburgh resident. Kevindaryán was born and raised in the Hudson Valley and his family has lived in the City of Newburgh for over 30 years.

Kevindaryán began his career in politics as a Deputy Field Organizer for Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney in 2014 and has since worked on numerous local, state and federal campaigns across the Hudson Valley.

Kevindaryán was elected to the Orange County Legislature, representing Newburgh’s 4th Legislative district in 2017. He is the first Latino ever elected to represent his district and amongst the youngest legislators ever elected in Orange County history.

Stephon Williams
Onondaga County Legislature, District 4
https://www.stephonforchange.com

Stephon is a father, husband, community activist, healthcare worker, and business owner running to represent District 4 in Onondaga County. Stephon is running because of his strong compassion for change in his district and in the county. Stephon believes that local government should work for the people that need it most. He plans to be the voice for his constituents in his district! Stephon will also bring fresh bold new initiatives in areas of innovation and leadership to the district.

Stephon’s belief is that we should always put people over politics. In fact, it’s the people that elects us here in the first place. They deserve to be put first and it should not be partisan. If elected County Legislator for District 4, he will work to ensure that the issues of our community are a priority, and most importantly that it gets done. We will make District 4 greater, and the district of opportunity!

Tyler Irish
Dutchess County Legislature, District 24
https://www.tylerirish4dutchess.com

Tyler is running for Dutchess County Legislator in District 24. His district, which encompasses Dover and Union Vale, is in desperate need of accountable representation. Being a lifelong resident, Tyler knows the region, he knows the people, and he knows the struggles. There is a housing crisis that has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. Residents are facing rising costs of living and a lack of equitable career opportunities. With a class ‘D’ air quality rating, limited access to essential services, and a broken healthcare system, the well-being of Dutchess County is at stake.

OHIO

Aisia Jones
Cleveland City Council, Ward 8
http://www.aisiaforcleveland.com

Aisia is a respected community organizer and activist whose experiences have led her to take her activism to City Hall and the ballot box. Aisia grew up in Ward 8 and had a childhood filled with hot summer days at Euclid Beach State Park and neighborhood block parties. Her family moved away and when she moved back to Cleveland in 2013 she didn’t recognize her community — from the dilapidated homes to the increased crime rates that kept her neighbors locked inside their homes.

Aisia knew when she moved back that her life’s work would be in uplifting her community. She began small on her block, by cleaning up yards and organizing community conversations. She grew into her role as a community leader, hosting the radio show Our Voices Today on WOVU 95.9 FM and serving as the wraparound services coordinator at Anton Grdina School. She is an alumni of Cleveland’s Neighborhood leadership Institute and is currently the outreach coordinator for Black Lives Matter Cleveland.

Aisia is running to transform Cleveland and Cleveland City Council. Over and over again, she has seen how racial inequities, housing disparities, the lack of job access and the lack of emergency mental health services have hurt Clevelanders like her neighbors in Ward 8. Aisia is running on a platform to tackle police reform, increase local government accessibility and better spend city money to increase public health & safety. Aisia lives in Cleveland with her husband and two young sons.

Allosious “Al” Snodgrass
Cleveland Heights City Council
https://www.alsnodgrass.com

Allosious (AL) is a 25-year old public service oriented millennial committed to progress that residents in Cleveland Heights (CH) can see. Al is an advocate and graduate of public schools, he will fight for small-businesses, work to find ways to reduce taxes, and work with local community development corporations to find new ways to attract residents & businesses. In addition to protecting key city services, Al will work with his colleagues and the incoming administration to create and execute bold ideas for the city of Cleveland Heights. On day one, Al will meet with the administration to gain a full picture impact of COVID-19 on CH and find ways to retain residents and businesses.

Al is a recent graduate of Cleveland State University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Political Science and is currently working towards an MBA. He has worked on campaigns that protect critical services for residents across Cuyahoga county and currently works full-time assisting the President/CEO of a multi-county community development corporation develop high-quality affordable housing. He helps immigrants through his service as a board member of several committees and commissions in CH. Al is committed to the residents of Cleveland Heights and ready to hit the ground running.

Laura Rodriguez Carbone
Lakewood City Council, At-Large
https://www.lauraforlakewood.com

Laura is a public servant and community champion who has dedicated the past 20 years to the betterment of Lakewood and Northeast Ohio. She is a first generation Puerto Rican whose father immigrated to the U.S. to seek opportunities for a better life. She is running because she believes that representatives on Lakewood City Council should represent the future we are trying to build — one that is more inclusive, equitable, and focused on solving the everyday issues important to residents.

Over the past year, Laura has been on the front lines with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently the Midwest Regional Outreach and Communications Lead supporting the Federal COVID Response (formerly Operation Warp Speed), helping to prioritize diverse and inclusive representation in clinical research of treatments for COVID-19. In 2020, Laura was appointed by Mayor Meghan George to Lakewood’s first Anti-Racism Task Force and serves as Co-Chair. Laura was formerly selected by City Council to serve on the Foundation Planning Task Force, which eventually became the Healthy Lakewood Foundation. For her community work and public service, Laura was awarded Crain’s Cleveland Business Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 Award in 2017, as well as the Resiliency Award from Cleveland State University.

Megan Dougherty
Springfield Township Trustee
https://megandougherty.com

Megan Dougherty is running for Springfield Township Trustee. She’s running because she has a deep connection to the community and believes there can be a brighter star in Cincinnati.

She wants to make sure that all students in the Township are set up to succeed whether that be in a university or a skilled trade. They need to make sure that these students grow up into successful adults who bring their talents back to the community and raise their families here.

Springfield Township deserves fresh new ideas so that everyone in the Cincinnati area can see us shine. Megan’s unique expertise and experiences combined with her deep love for the Township make her the right person for the job. As a trustee, Megan will work hard and use her knowledge towards pushing Springfield Township into the future.

OREGON

J. Manny Mahnesmith
River Road Park & Recreation District Board, Position 5

Manny is running for River Road Park & Rec. District Board of Director with the goal of ensuring excellent park and recreational facilities and services to community members. He has always shared a passion for health and wellness, public service and recreation since he was a young teenager.

Aside from his extensive background in all levels of sports participation, he also volunteers as a coach with his High School Alma Mater, Activities Director and sponsored athlete with local non-profit Suddenly Sleepy and Vice-Chair of his House District. Manny has served over 10 years in the Oregon National Guard and has been honored as his Battalion’s 2020 NCO of the Year for his exceptional leadership, dedication and selfless service. He has an expansive educational background with a focus on Exercise Science but includes multiple professional licenses, certificates, military schools, and leadership academies.

Manny wants to enable an effective business model that responds to the community’s needs to effect change and maintain a sustainable, creative, and modern organization. If elected he will bring a fresh new prospective, leadership style and diversity to the board, to which would benefit and more represent the community.

Kelly Mason
Springfield School District, Position 5
https://kellymason.nationbuilder.com

Kelly served as student body president during her 8th grade year and it was during this time that she truly discovered her passion for leadership and community! This is an opportunity to bring everything full circle as a lifelong Springfield resident to ensure the continued success of our students. Being a product of Springfield Public Schools, Kelly had a village to lead her to where she is today. Her education was not one without struggles and hardship, her father died when she was 9 years old and she was raised by a single mother.

As a board member, she hopes to bring a fresh perspective along with real world experience in education at a time when Springfield needs it most. Kelly’s focus will be on listening to students and their families, and what is in their best interest as we reopen schools and try to help them find a new normal. She is prepared to do the hard work that is ahead of us.

As the current chair of the Community Development Advisory Board of Springfield, Kelly has had the chance to hear the concerns of other Springfield residents and help make important decisions about current community development initiatives. Kelly also serves as an academic advisor for the UO’s PathwayOregon program that serves Oregon residents with financial need. Kelly is bilingual and able to connect with Latinx students and parents and ensure that they always have equitable resources and information! This unique experience matched with her dedication to Springfield makes her an excellent candidate for the Springfield Board of Education

PENNSYLVANIA

Danielle Chesek
Scranton School Board

Danielle is running for school board to ensure an equitable education for every student in the Scranton school district. A local activist and veterinary nurse, Danielle currently works in veterinary education. She is a working mother, graduate of Scranton public schools and an active member of the community. Danielle believes inequity begins at a young age and every child deserves access to an early education program.

As a school board director, Danielle will govern with equality and proudly represent her city as an elected official. Her goal is to uphold social, racial and economic justice for the city of Scranton while being a voice for the community. She believes that the students, teachers and taxpayers of the district should be made a priority when making decisions and that every student in the Scranton School district should have the same opportunity for success.

Kristen Runge
Springfield Township Tax Collector
https://springfieldforward.org/kristen-runge-tax-collector/

Kristen has been a resident of Springfield since 2015 and is running for Tax Collector. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Accounting and also holds an MBA in Accounting from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

During her 15-year accounting career, Kristen has managed compilations, reviews, and audits of privately held companies of varying sizes and complexities along with the necessary tax work. Kristen has also served as a treasury manager where she helped implement new processes for accounts payable and a company-wide credit card program. More importantly, Kristen has audited local non-profits, boroughs, and municipalities, providing assistance with financial statement preparation and required filings.

Kristen and her husband live in the Scenic Hills section of Springfield with their two children, Madison (7) and Michael (4).

With her extensive experience and willingness to serve her local community, Kristen will bring a fresh perspective to the role of Tax Collector in Springfield and is looking forward to the opportunity to serve.

Sophia Garcia-Jackson
Chester County Coroner
https://sophiaforcoroner.com

Sophia is running for Coroner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She is currently the Chief Deputy Coroner overseeing all aspects of office hands-on including but not limited to administration, death investigation and transportation duties. She is responsible for the budget, sits on multiple task forces, and signs death certificates with the final cause and manner of death. Sophia holds a master’s degree in Forensic Medicine, a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a certificate in Forensic Identification. She is certified by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators and the Pennsylvania State Coroners’ Education Board, a required training to become Coroner.

Sophia is passionate about this field and has dedicated her education, career and life to it. She will continue the efforts of modernizing the office with a forensic facility and continue building a team of certified investigators. Sophia knows the Coroner’s Office provides an essential service to the residents of Chester County and she is proud of all her work so far and knows there is still so much more to do. Sophia is prepared to lead the office on day one.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Sam Johnson
Mayor of Columbia
https://www.samjohnsonformayor.com

Born and raised in Columbia, the son of a truck driver and an Alzheimer’s nurse, Sam Johnson knows the challenges Columbia’s families face every day. Working long hours and night shifts to provide their children with the opportunities they never had, his parents led by example instilled with a strong work ethic and an unshakable belief in what is possible. Those values were strengthened by his Grandmother, Mary Starks who blazed a trail in many areas in South Carolina including golf.

Sam knows the challenges we face and he knows that we can overcome these challenges together. He’s running for mayor because he believes in Columbia, not just who we are but who we can be!

Imagine a new commitment to making affordable housing a reality across our city and making public safety and equal justice a priority for all of our citizens. Imagine creating new jobs, ensuring a living wage and investing in minority small businesses in a way that we never could have imagined. Imagine finishing the work on transparency and ethics so you know that this government is your government. Imagine standing up to protect our people from this deadly pandemic and emerging stronger than ever.

Sam is running for mayor because, even when everything in the world feels like it’s against you, you need to know that you’re not alone.

VIRGINIA

Bridgette Craighead
Virginia State House, District 9
https://www.bridgettefordelegate.com

Bridgette is a single-mother, small business owner, and social activist from Rocky Mount, VA. She made national news for organizing the first Black Lives Matter chapter in rural southwest Virginia and then again for speaking up when a photo of two local Police officers, posing inside the Capitol, surfaced after the events of January 6th.

Bridgette brings a message of love and unity and wants everyone to be represented in Richmond. Virginia’s 9th House District is a scenic, rural, area that has been neglected by its representatives and the decision-makers in our state capitol. The people of our area need Opportunities, Education, and Transportation to take the next steps into the 21st century. The area needs better paying jobs with benefits, affordable housing that creates communities, higher teacher salaries, better funded schools, effective early childhood education, affordable childcare, adult skills training, better roads and bridges, and smart transit solutions that can help improve commerce for everyone.

With her Strength, Resilience, and Determination, Bridgette will fight for hard-working families and speak truth to power. It is not enough to rally and hold signs. Bridgette is stepping up to take a seat at the table and prove that Virginia can show the world there can be Liberty and Justice for ALL.

Nadarius Clark
Virginia State House, District 79
https://www.clarkfordelegate.com

Coming from a military family with a background in business entrepreneurship, Nadarius is a progressive community activist and organizer in the 79th district. Born in Norfolk and raised in Portsmouth, Nadarius has deep roots in Hampton Roads and has been a strong advocate for education investments, green infrastructure, and racial justice his entire career.

In 2016, after a KKK march disrupted classes at his HBCU in Richmond, Nadarius co-founded the charter chapter of Generation Now Network, an organization committed to faith based activism, advocacy, and education.

As a student leader at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference in 2017, Nadarius rallied with leaders of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike and he went on to lobby in Washington D.C. for comprehensive expansion to Medicare and Medicaid.

Rhett Deitz
Virginia State House, District 14
https://www.deitz4delegate.com

Rhett graduated from James Madison University with a degree in social work. Her passion for social work transitioned into a career in field politics in Virginia. Rhett currently resides in Henry County on her family’s farm, Home Creek Farms. When she’s not helping gather hay, or herding cows, she is running a union print shop with her business partner.

Rhett decided to run in the 14th district after experiencing first hand the consequences that the Covid-19 pandemic had on her younger brother’s schooling. At the age of eight, her brother struggled with virtual school due to the absence of affordable, functioning internet. Access to the internet has become an integral part of learning in recent years, and that has become especially apparent over the last year as our schools and jobs have been increasingly moved online. The importance of addressing equity issues both within the city as well as the counties is crucial for the further development of the district.

Rhett is running against a twenty year incumbent who has voted to cut funding for rural broadband, access to healthcare, and cut funding for schools and increased class sizes. Twenty years in office is a significant amount of time, and things have not changed in the district. It’s time for our representation to represent the interests of the people.

Recruiting & supporting young people running for office. Building a Democratic bench. Want to help? hello@runforsomething.net

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store