Meet our April 2021 Endorsement Class!

We’re back again with another round of 2021 endorsements! Today, we’re pumped to introduce you to 53 young progessive state and local candidates running for office in 15 states this year, bringing our grand total to 192 endorsements in 2021 so far.

This month’s class includes 3 veterans, 20 parents, 11 first-generation immigrants, and 6 candidates that identify as members of the disabled community.

As the progressive movement works to combat increased attacks from the GOP in state legislatures and municipalities across the country, we are inspired by the bold leadership of our new endorsement class. Take a look at a few of these all-stars:

  • Buffalo, NY mayoral candidate India Walton is a nurse and representative in the 1199 SEIU union who has stood up for workers and patients on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. As a community organizer, India founded the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust an organization committed to helping longtime residents of Buffalo find permanently affordable housing.

Get to know the remainder of our April endorsement class and learn how you can support our work to recruit more candidates to run in 2021.

CANDIDATES

Arizona

Miranda Schubert
Tucson City Council, Ward 6

Miranda is the eldest daughter of her two parents, who both worked in the service industry. Her father’s role as a restaurant manager required her to relocate frequently with his work in her childhood, and so Tucson is the first place she’s chosen to call home on her own terms.

Nearly ten years in Tucson, she’s invested a great deal of herself into her chosen home. She rents a small place in Armory Park with her partner Amanda and their two cats. She’s participated in numerous bouts as Pariah Carey with Tucson Roller Derby and even hosted a radio program with Downtown Tucson Radio, which many now know as her feminist variety hour Ladytowne.

In the summer of 2019, Miranda decided to throw her energy and interest into the city’s participatory budgeting process. She wanted to advocate for affordable housing, equitable infrastructure and accessible public spaces, and she was energized and excited by how many of her neighbors were asking for the same things. Then the final budget was published and she was
heartbroken.

“None of what we were asking for was in there,” she said. “I didn’t feel let down, but I did feel like advocating wasn’t going to get us what we were asking for. I felt like someone really had to stick their neck out for these ideas, and that’s when I started to really contemplate running.”

CALIFORNIA

Clarissa Cervantes
Riverside City Council, Ward 2

Clarissa is a mother and lifelong Riverside County resident who has devoted her career to empowering working families, fighting for social justice, and increasing participation in local, state, and national elections.

As a Legislative Field Representative to Councilmember Andy Melendrez, Clarissa helped residents solve problems and navigate City Hall, while working to improve and protect the quality of life in Ward 2. She also served as an organizer for SEIU 121RN, representing over 8,500 registered nurses and other healthcare professionals in Riverside County and throughout Southern California. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from California State University, Northridge and her Master Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from California State Polytechnic University — Pomona.

Clarissa is running for City Council to represent the growing and diverse population that encompasses the City of Riverside. Her extensive legislative and community experiences at Riverside City Hall and beyond, give her a unique perspective of policy, community building and an understanding of how to deliver lasting results for the neighbors within Ward 2.

FLORIDA

Mary Ann Ruiz
South Miami City Council, Group 3

Mary Ann is uniquely qualified to serve as South Miami Commissioner as a native of the South Miami area, a resident of South Miami for over 8 years with her husband and two young daughters, Laila (8) and Elise (6), and an active member of her community, Mary Ann is the Chair of the Planning and Zoning Board and has been deeply involved already in a leadership role in South Miami. She is a small business owner and attorney, helping homeowners regain quiet and peaceful enjoyment in their homes. She also believes that South Miami should be progressive, responsible, sustainable and inclusive.

Mary Ann is a proven community leader and member in several organizations spanning her interests in law and the legislative process, strong female leadership, local education, and preserving Miami-Dade County’s local architectural, environmental, and cultural heritage. Mary Ann will bring these interests, ideas and community connections with her as Commissioner, with all the enthusiasm, work ethic, and critical and independent thinking it takes to continuously better the City of South Miami.

Richie Floyd
St. Petersburg City Council, District 8

Richie is a science teacher and community activist, with experience leading organizing campaigns for the $15 minimum wage, criminal justice reform, and more. He is an active union member and has fought alongside his coworkers and other unions to demand better conditions for working people.

He lives in the Central Oak Park Neighborhood with his wife, Miranda, and he is running a grassroots campaign for St. Petersburg City Council District 8 to fight for better jobs, affordable housing, and social and environmental justice. Richie believes that St. Petersburg can set the standard for a just and fair city for all people, and is running to help make this a reality!

GEORGIA

Jason Dozier
Atlanta City Council, District 4

Jason is a nonprofit professional and community organizer who has spent more than half his life serving others. Jason served as a reconnaissance officer in the Army, serving with distinction and earning the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal during his tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Professionally, Jason has spent the last decade helping veterans and military families find and secure employment across America. He’s running to represent Atlanta City Council District 4, which includes some of Atlanta’s most historic neighborhoods. Jason’s years of community organizing work have been centered around housing justice, transportation equity, and environmental justice.

Jason lives in the Mechanicsville community with his wife and daughter.

Liliana Bakhtiari
Atlanta City Council, District 5

Liliana is a longtime SE Atlanta homeowner, a proven problem solver and committed community activist, and the daughter of immigrants.

Liliana knows firsthand about discrimination, growing up, living and working in the South as a queer Muslim woman. Her experiences fueled her path to becoming a community leader, social justice advocate, and activist fighting for women and children’s health issues, environmental justice, and our unsheltered populations.

In Atlanta, Liliana has tackled initiatives locally including engaging suburban and rural voters during especially critical elections, direct services with unsheltered populations, blood drives, senior partnerships, public art initiatives, and more. Liliana currently serves as a curator of the Atlanta-based art organization Black Futures Matter, while also serving on the boards of PEDS, Georgia Equality, and gloATL.

As our next Atlanta City Councilmember, Liliana will fight to close the skyrocketing digital divide and equity gap in Atlanta — the largest in the nation. She will fight to make every Southeast Atlanta neighborhood safer and more affordable. And she will work directly with our community to build an even better, more inclusive Atlanta. If elected, Liliana will be the first queer Muslim person elected in Georgia, and the first gender non-conforming person to serve on the Atlanta City Council.

Rogelio Arcila
Atlanta City Council, District 4

Rogelio was born and raised here in Atlanta, but his parents immigrated from Mexico for a better opportunity and ended up working picking turnips in the fields. Growing up, his mother worked hard as a housekeeper to provide every opportunity she could for him and his sister. Rogelio’s mother was a single parent trying to raise two kids while working multiple low paying jobs to make ends meet. Luckily, the community was there to support her. She beat the odds, but not every family is so lucky.

It seems like a lot of Atlanta residents have run out of luck. As Atlanta gentrifies and long-time residents are forced out of their communities, our basic needs are disregarded. Rogelio knows firsthand the experience of being forced out of his community due to gentrification and knows this is not about running out of luck — this is the direct result of so-called public servants ignoring the needs of the people.

Rogelio has decided to fight to take power back from the property developers and the other corporate interests who think they run the city because they are tearing our communities apart. It is time to address the poverty crisis Atlanta is going through.

MAINE

Ryan Lizanecz
Portland Charter Commissioner, District 5

Ryan is running for Portland Charter Commission to bring neighborhood voice and power back into city hall. Ryan is a law student, graduate of Portland Public Schools and Bates College, and lifelong resident of the City of Portland, Maine. Ryan believes the neighborhoods of North Deering, Deering Center, and Riverton deserve an advocate for good government that will put the needs of our district first.

Portland is changing, and Ryan is running to make sure no one gets left behind in writing our new city charter. Many of the reforms Ryan hopes to adopt are a municipal clean elections program, a stronger mayor and council, and more power to neighborhood groups. These are common sense, low cost reforms that will only help our city continue to grow and thrive.

Ryan believes that we can’t risk being pulled backwards into the past, now is our chance to make sure Maine’s largest city works for us.

MARYLAND

Sherlyna Hanna
Hyattsville City Council, Ward 3

Sherlyna is an engaged and motivated servant leader dedicated to my community. She has demonstrated a commitment to Hyattsville through philanthropy, psychotherapy, and advocacy. She is running to be the Ward 3 City Councilmember in Hyattsville to serve as an accessible and transparent advocate.

As someone who has often been secluded from the table, Sherlyna recognizes the importance of an inclusive environment and will advocate for those who are underrepresented not only to have a seat at the table, but to also be a part of the decision-making process.

As a servant leader, Sherlyna believes it is imperative to put the needs of the community fist. Her goal as Councilmember is to listen to the needs of the community, provide opportunities for collaboration, and ensure effective solutions.

MASSACHUSETTS

Adam Gutbezahl
Wayland Board of Selectmen

Adam is a practicing attorney who is running to serve on the Wayland Board of Selectmen. Adam has experience working in local government, including while living in Washington, D.C. He has also served on multiple boards and committees in his community, including the Finance Committee, Trust Fund Commission, and Cultural Council. Adam is running to ensure Wayland promotes and improves governmental transparency, takes active steps to combat the climate crisis, and makes the community a more inclusive and welcoming place for all people.

Adam is the proud parent of a two-and-a-half-year-old, and he and his wife’s second child is due within days of election day. Adam is running to ensure that the decisions made today provide for a vibrant and inclusive community for his (and his neighbor’s) children for many years to come.

David Halbert
Boston City Council, At-Large

David knows that Boston is an incredible city full of opportunity, but those opportunities are not shared by everyone. Having dedicated his over 15 year career to progressive causes and public service, David understands that the best kind of government is one that empowers more voices to be at the table. As a Black man in Boston, David knows that those of us who have been looked around, looked past, and looked through know the difference between true representation versus tokenism — and will accept nothing less.

When David thinks about the future, he thinks about the kind of Boston he works every day to create for his daughters. By focusing on housing justice, educational justice, & economic opportunity, and understanding how these issues intersect with so many other policy concerns, David knows we can create the kind of progressive, innovative, & values-led solutions that will put Boston on a path towards being a truly equitable city for all.

David lives in Dorchester with his wife, Lauren, and their two daughters. He is the first At-Large candidate to announce rejecting corporate PAC, fossil fuel, and police union money. If elected, David would be the first Black man, directly elected citywide since 1981.

Erica Spann
Ayer-Shirley Regional School District Committee

Erica is a hospital administrator, community volunteer and advocate with experience in creating community groups, developing awareness campaigns, policy management, and action planning. She has addressed issues in the district relating to diverse hiring practices, staff retention, anti-racism policies, inclusion practices, student mental health, and special education.

Erica is running to represent the town of Ayer, MA in the Ayer-Shirley Regional School Committee. She is advocating for student centered governance, transparent effective leadership, and intentional diversity, equity and inclusion. As a homegrown citizen and mother of a student in the district, she seeks to break barriers to better education and build greater futures for ALL students in the district.

MINNESOTA

Halla Henderson
St. Paul School Board, At-Large

Halla is an organizer, a youth worker, and a fierce advocate for an education system that meets all students’ needs. Through years of organizing with students and new voters and, now, working alongside students across Minnesota to advise stakeholders and government officials on youth issues, Halla has worked to build power with those most impacted by the decisions made.

She’s running for the Saint Paul School Board because she believes that successful governing lies in the relationships with our students, educators, and community members. Halla believes that our students and their experiences must be centered on addressing the historic inequities in our school districts. She will be a champion in the fight for fully funded schools, the hiring and recruiting of additional teachers of color, and a voice for those who have too often failed to see themselves reflected in government spaces.

NEW JERSEY

Aissa C Heath
New Jersey Assembly, District 20

Aissa was born and raised in Union County by her mom and grew up in a working-class home, where working hard while fighting for others was a key value instilled in her from an early age. Aissa’s been working since she was 16 years old, doing everything from working as a maintenance worker, to working in retail, to working as a programmer and data analyst.

Aissa went to Union County College and then Rutgers University-Newark, where she received her degree in Economics. She is an active community organizer and is involved with mutual aid groups and various organizations working on political education events.

Our political machine is just that; politicians who turn the wheels of the corruption that has failed Union County. Union County doesn’t just need people who look like us, we need people who act like us, who live like us, who care like us. That’s why Aissa is stepping up to run for Assembly in LD20.

Caseen Gaines
Hackensack City Council

Caseen is a lifelong Hackensack resident and voice for change in his community. After triple-majoring in English, Journalism, and American Studies at Rutgers, he returned to serve his city as an educator and theater director at his former high school, where he has worked for the past fourteen years.

Caseen’s efforts to improve equity and achieve social justice in schools have been recognized statewide. Just last year, he contributed to a State Attorney General’s report on combating bias and hate crimes among students.

He is an active leader in his local teacher’s union, and a member of the National Education Association. He is also an award-winning author, former member of his city’s Cultural Arts Board, and co-founder of the nonprofit Hackensack Theater Company.

Hackensack has become overrun with luxury apartment development, making it one of the most expensive places for renters to live in the state. This is a huge financial burden on the city’s working-class community. Caseen is running to ensure that his neighbors aren’t priced out of town, developers pay their fair share, so that schools don’t fall into further disrepair, and so city leadership can focus on improving the quality-of-life for all residents.

NEW YORK

Genesis Ramos
Orange County Legislature, District 6

Genesis is first-generation Honduran American. She grew up in a working-class family and is the first person in her family to run for office. She is a lifetime resident of the city of Newburgh, New York. Her mother worked in warehouses, and her father in auto detailing to provide for her and her brother. They would also work cleaning jobs to make ends meet, and through them she learned to fight and rise above.

For the past decade, her career has been within the public sector. She has worked with a wide range of populations throughout her career. Currently, her career is focused on healthcare administration as a Director of Organizational Culture. She is also a freelance Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Consultant.

Genesis’ platform is focused on creating equitable, inclusive, and sustainable outcomes around economic development, healthcare, and environmental issues in her community. She is running a community driven for the people by the people campaign, and she is ready to challenge the status quo. She has a pet beagle Sebi, and loves nature.

India Walton
Mayor of Buffalo

Born and raised on Buffalo’s East Side as one of six children, India became a full-time working mother at the age of just 14. She earned her GED while pregnant with twins who were born prematurely, an experience that inspired her to become a nurse in the same NICU where her boys’ lives were saved.

As a healthcare worker, India became a representative in the 1199 SEIU union, standing up for both workers and patients from picket lines in Buffalo to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, where she was invited to speak at a national women’s rights rally in 2014. Continuing to serve as a nurse in Buffalo Public Schools, India witnessed the health disparities among our most vulnerable citizens and became determined to change the systems that cause these injustices.

India’s commitment to systemic change called her to become a community organizer for Open Buffalo, establishing herself as a thought leader on a wide range of issues including criminal justice reform and fair housing. Her work on the latter led her to be named the founding executive director of the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, for which she worked with longtime residents to develop permanently affordable housing.

Having proven her passion for caring for people from infants to elders, India is real, resilient, and ready to be the next Mayor of Buffalo.

Judge Heela Capell
Kings County Civil Court Judge

Born to immigrant Jewish parents in New York and raised in a household where English was her second language, Judge Heela understands what it means to be an outsider. She became a lawyer, and later a judge to fight for justice and fairness in Brooklyn’s legal system.

Laura Nordstrom
Kingston Common Council, Ward 7

Laura is a dedicated public servant with a background working with youth and families. After 11 years in community-based nonprofit, Laura began working in government to learn how to attack issues from new angles. She is a problem solver who knows how to look critically at a situation, listen to those affected and develop a comprehensive approach to reach a resolution. With a focus on mental health services, affordable housing and preserving local jobs, Laura will work to ensure the community thrives instead of struggling to get by. Throughout her career she has engaged, served and inspired those around her and she will bring that energy to public office.

Laura is a working mother of two completing a Masters in Public Administration, wife and partner to a man with Schizophrenia and an enthusiastic advocate for the needs of the community.

Rebecca Town
Buffalo City Court Judge

As a staff public defender in Buffalo NY, Rebecca works at the intersection of indigent defense and criminal justice reform. With a decade of experience as a trial attorney, Rebecca has litigated more than 10,000 criminal cases, from arraignment to disposition.

Outside of the courtroom, Rebecca is a thought leader on criminal justice such as bail, pre-trial discovery and implicit racial bias. She has partnered with the New York State Bar Association and the Vera Institute of Justice to host bail trainings for criminal defense attorneys and judges in WNY. Recognizing that many of her clients face systemic barriers that keep them trapped in a revolving door cycle of the criminal justice system she spends her free time giving back to the community and attempting to address root causes.

OHIO

Ajmeri Hoque
Dublin City Council, Ward 1

Ajmeri is running for Dublin City Council in Ohio. Ajmeri lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter. As an attorney with her own practice, she brings the experience of being a small business owner. As a former prosecutor, she brings the knowledge of working in government and a dedication to serving the public. She has volunteered in legal clinics and has been a part of South Asian community organizations. Currently, she is on the Dublin Police Chief’s Advisory Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Ajmeri is running to bring accessibility to City Council with more ways to connect to constituents on a personal level. She wants transparency and engagement with local government and she knows accessible elected officials is the biggest step to making that happen. She wants to encourage diverse businesses to choose Dublin as their home.

Ajmeri is running to represent Ward 1 in Dublin, Ohio- one of the most diverse cities in the state. As a first generation immigrant, she is also running to bring representation to Dublin City Council as the first immigrant and first woman of color to City Council. Dublin is 30% diverse with a 20% Asian population and 18% foreign born population. However, every single elected official in Dublin is white. Ajmeri firmly believes representation matters and it is time for Dublin’s elected officials to reflect the ethnically and economically diverse constituency they serve. Ajmeri will be that person for you.

Nick Rubando
Bowling Green City Council, Ward 1

Nick grew up in Holland, Ohio, a small working class town outside of Toledo. His father, a businessman, coach, and entrepreneur, taught Nick the importance of hard work and appreciating one’s community. Nick’s mother, an artist, hairdresser, and homemaker, instilled in him a respect for taking care of those who need it most. Politics became personal for Nick after his mother developed a pre-existing condition. For the first time, he could see how decisions made in Washington affect working Americans and families like his own.

Nick began his political career while studying journalism at Indiana University. During the ’08 Obama Campaign he worked as a student volunteer. After graduation, Nick moved to California to work for a tech start-up. He also worked as a field organizer on a successful congressional campaign in CA-25. Invigorated and inspired by the win, Nick moved back to Ohio. That’s when he decided to run for US Congress OH-05. Though he lost this election, Nick built a robust coalition focused on community organizing and creating progressive change. Nick is running for BG City Council to continue the movement he helped build, focused on sustainability and economic development.

Rebecca Maurer
Cleveland City Council, Ward 12

Rebecca is a lawyer, community advocate, and civic leader in Cleveland. Her work ranges from organizing block parties to sparking city-wide conversations on lead-safe housing and government transparency. She is running for Cleveland City Council to represent Ward 12, one of the only wards to cross the east and west side of the Cuyahoga River, covering the neighborhoods of Old Brooklyn, Slavic Village, Brooklyn Centre, and Tremont.

Rebecca grew up in Northeast Ohio, graduated from the University of Chicago and Stanford Law School, and returned to Cleveland after seeing the impact of the foreclosure crisis and housing instability on the city. She spent time as an attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland where she represented tenants facing eviction and homeowners facing foreclosure. She went on to help organize the grassroots coalition Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing, which successfully pushed Cleveland City Council to preemptively test rental properties for lead hazards before children became poisoned. She has also been working alongside community leaders and local organizations to fight for a public comment period at City Council meetings — a right which current members of council refuse to allow.

She has served as the elected Ward Leader for the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party in Ward 12 for the past three years and has worked hard to build one of the most active and engaged field programs in the county. She is ready to build a more accountable and transparent City Hall that makes Cleveland work better for every resident.

Shenise Turner-Sloss
Dayton City Council

Shenise is running for Dayton City Commission. She is a long-standing native of Dayton who works as a Logistics Management Specialist with the federal government and has over ten years of local and federal government experience in logistics, community development, and project and program management.

A proud graduate of Dayton Public Schools, Shenise graduated from Fisk University (Nashville, TN) with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and has a Masters of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University (Mt. Pleasant, MI) in General/Public Administration.

Shenise’s deep concern and passion for the stability of Dayton’s neighborhoods sparked the development of the non-profit organization “Neighborhoods Over Politics.” Serving as one of the co-founders for the organization, Shenise is a strong independent voice who is committed to neighborhood redevelopment and the economic sustainability of communities. In fact, she has procured and administered local projects totaling in excess of $7.6 million dollars.

Shenise understands how government works, and how it can work better to benefit people. She has provided technical assistance in administering the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) federal funding programs, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership Program, and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). She has received certification in Life-Cycle Logistics, and is a Housing Development Finance Professional (HDFP).

Zachary Joseph
Riverside City Council

Zachary (Zach) is a twenty-six year old who wears a lot of hats. He works full time as a Human Capital Management Consultant for a major HR and Payroll provider while attending Antioch University full time and helping his fiancé, Austin, run a business out of their house. Prior to his run for Riverside City Council Zach served five years in the United States Navy Reserves as a personnel specialist. Currently Zach serves as a precinct captain for the Montgomery County Democratic Party and is a member of the Ohio Democratic Party’s Veterans Caucus.

Riverside is home to the United States Air Force Museum and Ohio’s largest military insulation, Wright Paterson Air Force Base. The city is — at its core — a bedroom community filled with small businesses and has its roots being a backdrop to the Air Force. Zach’s experience in the military and consulting with small businesses lead to his decision to run for city council.

PENNSYLVANIA

A. Tom Hasani
Upper Moreland Township Board of School Directors, At-Large

Tom is an educator, a social, economic, and environmental justice advocate, and a community leader. A first-generation American, born to Central Asian immigrants, Tom has successfully founded and ran Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committees at his workplaces, and is also a Board Member for Equity Alliance for Upper Moreland. Tom is a Trustee for Upper Moreland Free Public Library with experience in educating the public on equity. While obtaining his MA in International Peace & Conflict Resolution, he worked to facilitate issues between ethnic minorities and governing entities in various international settings. He has both training and experience in community mediation and diversity education through working with various community nonprofits, such as the Peace Center.

With BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ violence and marginalization continuing to be in the public light, Tom is running to give access to those whose voices have not been heard. He wants to build a future where today’s children can thrive unhindered by how they look or whom they love.

Alex Myers
Hatboro Borough Council

Alex is running to represent Hatboro as a new member of Borough Council. He is an Army veteran and long-time community volunteer who previously served one term on the Vacancy Board. He is currently the president for Hatboro’s Elm Street Philanthropic Board, a member of Rotary International, and serves as a board member for The Welcome Project PA, an organization that strives to be a diverse and safe space for marginalized and vulnerable populations. Alex believes in the strength of Hatboro’s history and will work to ensure it is honored and preserved as we build our future.

Christopher Jaramillo
Norristown Area School District Board of School Directors

Christopher is running for school board to continue the work of ensuring an equitable education for all Norristown Area School District students and to ensure that our young scholars are equipped with the necessary tools. He brings extensive knowledge and experience as an educator with a Masters of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. As a current Federal Employee, Chris expands his capacity as an educator by informing and extending assistance to those in desperate need.

As a School Board Director, Christopher intends to develop and adopt an Educational Equity policy which will include an equity audit at the school district level. Additionally, Chris will establish a LatinX advisory council which will support the school board on policy development and facilitate cross-cultural conversations (in Spanish and English) with community members and stakeholders.

Dave Stockton
Hatboro Borough Council

Dave is a dedicated, organized, and level-headed public servant proudly serving his first term as Council Vice-President in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. He is seeking re-election to continue his hard work for the residents and business owners in his community and to advance progressive, inclusive policies.

A lifelong musician, Dave graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with degrees in both Music Education and Music Performance. In addition to his time spent as an elected official, Dave is also the Director of Percussion for the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County and the General Sales Manager for Steve Weiss Music in Willow Grove, one of the nation’s leading online music retailers. He is an avid reader and a slightly less avid runner.

David Ward
New Castle City Council

David believes that now is the time for positive change in the community. He resides in the city with his fiancé and two children. He is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Social Work at Slippery Rock University, where he also earned his Bachelor’s Degree in the same discipline.

Advocating for his community and those without a voice, David is a life-long member of the New Castle NAACP chapter where he serves on the executive committee. David is also one of the founding members of ‘Be.’ In his limited free time, he is a volunteer youth coach and mentor.

Grant Fleegle
New Castle City Council

Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Grant resides in the city of New Castle with his dog Nala. He is a 27-year-old running to represent not only younger, but for all voices. Grant aims to reduce blight, increase the number of small businesses in the city, and revitalize the downtown area. He believes it is time for younger generations to step up to the plate because they are our future. Grant enjoys working with the community in any capacity and wants to bring positive change.

He is working to finish his bachelor’s degree in political science and currently is employed in social work. Previously, he worked in the service industry and volunteered on a local state representative campaign to elect Kolbe Cole. Now, he provides community support for individuals with disabilities and is a mental health worker for a social skills group geared towards children with autism. Grant is passionate and enthusiastic about serving the community and will bring a fresh, youthful voice to the council.

Jamie Piotrowski
Pittsburgh Public School Board, District 7

Jamie is a lifelong Pittsburgh resident with experience in working alongside vulnerable communities as a refugee resettlement caseworker and a direct care worker for young women in foster care to help families connect to necessary resources to help them succeed.

After 2 years in direct service work, she returned to the University of Pittsburgh to earn a dual master’s degree in Social Work and International Development; and become a licensed social worker in Pennsylvania. Jamie is now the Economic Development Program Manager for the Mount Washington CDC working to bring affordable housing opportunities to low-and-moderate income families.

Our communities’ health directly impacts the health of our schools and our children’s success. She is running to represent Pittsburgh Public Schools District 7 to fight for a high quality and holistic public education that is equitable and meets the individual needs of all of our students.

Jamie lives with her partner, Geoffrey, their dogs Gracie, and Winnifred, and their bird, Louise. They are currently renovating Jamie’s childhood home in Carrick and hope to start a family of their own and are looking forward to sending their kids to Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Jasmine Flores
Erie City Council

Jasmine is running for Erie City Council to represent the lower Eastside and minority women in her community. As an Erie native raised on the Lower Eastside she has seen and deeply felt the impact of elected officials pushing their poorer residents out. The Erie Community is under massive gentrification being done at the expense of the Lower Eastside. As an Erie renter, she plans to develop policies to protect residential communities that live in opportunity zones and prioritize the communities over developers.

Jasmine has been involved with the fight for $15 to raise the minimum wage but believes in family sustainable wages for all especially in the city that is home to the poorest zip code in the country. Jasmine has been a community organizer and activist since the fall of 2018 and is a dues-paying member of Erie County United.

Kayla Cocci
Ridley School Board, At-Large

Kayla, who will graduate Ridley High School in June 2021, will be the youngest member of the Ridley School Board in history. Kayla is running for school board to be an agent for change and diversity in the Ridley School District, and wants to pave the way for young people having a voice in local politics. She has demonstrated leadership skills and a dedication to public service. Kayla had been a leader in Student Government, co-founded Ridley’s first Young Progressives of America chapter, served as a presiding officer of Ridley High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance.

Outside the classroom, she has been both a volunteer and staff member for local political campaigns and elected officials, including State Representatives Leanne Krueger and Dave Delloso. She is a member of the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, a past volunteer for the Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County, and is the youngest member of the Ridley Township Democratic Committee. She is a co-organizer of the Delaware County Youth Education Alliance, which unites high school students from across Delaware County to make a positive change on issues that impact their lives.

Lydia Laythe
Erie County Council, District 6

Lydia is a social worker, advocate, leader & stepmom. She’s worked as a trauma therapist, community organizer, and journalist — so she knows the power of listening, healing, empowering, and speaking truth to power. She serves in elected office currently, so she understands how the system works but is new enough to still bring a fresh perspective, creative solutions and innovation to every challenge she faces. In this role she advocates for accessibility, transparency, & accountability.

On Erie County Council, Lydia will bring a trauma-informed perspective to policy solutions, will advocate for County Prison reform, and will promote community benefits agreements and sustainable development. She has worked with people from every walk of life, from rural Crawford & Erie Counties to the City of Erie.

Lydia is ready to raise awareness, advocate for the community, and bring real action to Erie County Council.

Ryan Lineaweaver
West Reading Borough Council

In August of 2020, tired of furiously typing away on the computer, Ryan decided that it was time to put his actions where his Facebook replies were — accepting an appointment to West Reading Borough Council. As a current member of council, he’s shown to be a pragmatic and informed voice for the residents of West Reading.

Ryan looks forward to continuing to be a practical voice on council, having open and honest conversations with residents, enacting bold, progressive, and fiscally responsible ideas, and ensuring the resilience and prosperity of West Reading and its residents into the future.

Dr Tyler Titus
Erie County Executive

Dr. Tyler Titus was born into poverty when their parents were teenagers. Tyler’s parents worked incredibly hard to provide their 12 children with the bare necessities. Growing up in a rural area, they saw many around them struggle. They watched their foster siblings face unimaginable challenges, as their parents tried to meet the needs of kids who had been neglected their whole lives. Tyler saw firsthand the failures of a system that leaves so many of us behind. This pain motivated them to be unafraid to stand up. Tyler wants to be a part of creating a future that is safe for their children, and yours.

Over the past 15 years, at the Erie County Office of Children and Youth, as a full-time therapist for youth in the foster system, and as the president of the Erie School Board, Tyler developed a nuanced understanding of how poverty, neglect, and abuse impacts communities. As a mental health professional, they see every day how severely broken our healthcare system is. As a small business owner, they know the challenges of building a successful future. As a former county employee, they understand the gaps and inefficiencies in the system.

Tyler believes deeply in quality healthcare for all, an economy that puts working families first, and an education system that gives every child a chance. They’re ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work so that we have an Erie County that is healthy, safe, and equitable — where no one is left behind.

Xander Orenstein
Pittsburgh District Magistrate, District 05–03–10

Xander received a Bachelors in biological sciences from Carnegie Mellon University in 2014 and a Masters in Biotechnology and Biodefense in 2019. Throughout that time, they had a passion for using research to help their community, but at each point along the way, the institutions of academia and industry put profit before anything else. This conflict of priorities left Xander dissatisfied at the impact they were having on their community.

The COVID-19 crisis set into sharp relief the inequality built into the legal system — evictions were being filed by the hundreds despite federal orders in place halting them. Xander started organizing with the Pittsburgh Union of Regional Renters and found true purpose in fighting for tenants rights. They recognize that our justice system is antiquated — built for a different time by a set of people with a very different set of values. While we can not build it anew overnight, we can work within it to produce fairness where many times there seems to be none, and bring relief to those who might otherwise not have a chance.

Communities must be built from the bottom up, not carefully curated by kicking out people who are poorer or more diverse than the wealthy view as not fitting within their vision of the community.

TEXAS

Ali Ramos
Amarillo City Council, District 13

Ali was born and raised in Amarillo, TX which heightens her passion for the care of its citizens. She recently graduated from Columbia University with a Master of Social Work degree and is always looking for ways to give back to the Amarillo community.

Ali decided to run for city council so that she could put her social work degree to good use while advocating for others as a progressive, queer woman in one of the reddest districts in Texas. She will fight for equal representation and diversity in local political leaders and will make sure that the voices of all communities are heard.

She is a member of several nonprofit and local city commissions which focus on disability and oppressed population issues. Due to Ali’s neuromuscular disability, she feels that this has given her the ability to adapt to societal pressures and offers a unique perspective on client care. She takes pride in showing others how to successfully navigate a system that was not made for people with disabilities.

Ariela Martinez
Castleberry ISD Board of Education, Place 3

Ariela is a candidate for Castleberry ISD School Board. She is a college access professional, community organizer, and doctoral student with nearly 10 years of experience in education, counseling, and leadership. Because of her experience serving students and families from various academic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds, Ariela brings diversity of thought, perspective, experience, and strengths from a student-centered, equity lens.

Ariela is running to activate marginalized voices, serve as a community bridge, and strengthen educational experiences and opportunities for Castleberry ISD students, families, and staff.

Chelsea Pavey
Grand Prairie City Council, Place 8, At-Large

Chelsea is a Grand Prairie transplant, who loves serving and helping her community. Moving to the city, from Atlanta, because it was close to her job, she has fallen in love with Grand Prairie and all it has to offer. Running for City Council, place 8, she wants to serve all members of the community. She is running because the City Council currently does not reflect the population of Grand Prairie and she, as a 35 year old, wants to more accurately represent all members of the community, especially the youthful population.

Chelsea has worked with non-profits since she was 18, serving on numerous boards across the country in leadership positions. She currently serves on the Keep Grand Prairie Beautiful Commission, striving to make the community better. As a youth camp leader, she has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of young people across the nation, giving them tools to believe in themselves, and make changes in their community. She hopes to bring that passion to Grand Prairie, and make a difference to the community.

As the 15th largest Texas city, Grand Prairie is growing, and Chelsea wants to make sure that citizens are not lost in that growth.

Clayton Tucker
Lampasas City Council, Place 1

Clayton is a rancher, beekeeper, former teacher, former water researcher, author, and a community organizer with Jim Hightower. He is running to end the digital divide in his rural community. It’s nearly impossible to do anything without the Internet — from finding jobs to telehealth and more. The lack of reliable broadband hurts working families, especially those in rural areas, more than most. Clayton fights to ensure everyone in his community has fast, reliable, and affordable Internet.

Clayton also wants to bring more and better-paying jobs to his rural community. Rural Texas has been in an economic recession for a long time. This is causing our communities to crumble and undue stress and suffering. While ending the digital divide will be critical to creating new jobs, boosting the tourism industry as well as creating a renewable energy industry will be key. Some communities in Texas use their revenues from wind turbines to fund their local schools and give their teachers raises. The same can happen in Lampasas, but only with the right amount of vision and leadership.

Dr. Jared Williams
Fort Worth City Council, District 6

Dr. Jared Williams grew up in southwest Fort Worth and was raised by two working parents: both were public school teachers, and his dad a pastor here in the neighborhood. Jared is a graduate of North Crowley High School and holds a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from Fort Valley State University — a historically black college and university, a master’s degree in Environmental Science from Texas Christian University, and a doctorate in Environmental Science and Science Education from the University of North Texas.

Jared has extensive experience leading education initiatives, organizing nonprofit and corporate stakeholders around common good and vision-casting equitable public education reform. He currently serves as the Regional Director for Leadership ISD and is a board member for many organizations such as the Tarrant Area Food Bank and DRC Housing Solutions. He recently celebrated his 11th anniversary as a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Rooted in the values his family instilled in him, Jared has dedicated his life-work to making a difference in Fort Worth on local and state issues like public education, hunger, housing and the environment. And now, he is ready to serve you and our community on the Fort Worth City Council for District 6.

Jennifer Long
Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, Place 5

Jennifer is a music educator with 17 years of experience as a children’s choir director, musical theatre instructor, classroom music teacher, substitute teacher, and private instructor. She currently runs a private music studio and also works in quality assurance.

Jennifer is a single mom who is familiar with the educational needs of everyday families, especially needs highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic. She brings diverse life experiences and a fresh perspective as a school board candidate. Jennifer wants every student in the district to have easy access to private music education and college success.

Junior Ezeonu
Grand Prairie City Council, Place 8

Junior is passionate and motivated by his community, determined to improve the lives of each Grand Prairie resident. He has served as a retail store clerk, youth basketball trainer, and currently a substitute teacher and tutor for low-income students throughout the DFW metroplex. These jobs may not have been generous in pay but they gave Junior the opportunity to learn and experience the day-to-day trials that many folks face here in Grand Prairie. And from those experiences a passion for public service developed and motivated Junior to serve his community.

Junior believes that Grand Prairie has a bright future with the right leadership. Progressive leadership that listens to the concerns of each resident and meets them where they are rather than lecture them about what they should be doing. Grand Prairie is a vibrant and beautiful city but there is so much more to be achieved, and this is possible if we move towards progress.

Mark Vargas
San Antonio City Council, District 3

Mark is an educator, advocate, and a life-long District 3 resident who is proud to be in the race to serve as the next councilman. Mark has been fighting for causes to better his community for nearly half of his life, where he has represented District 3 on the San Antonio Youth Commission, and other public organizations. After graduating from St. Mary’s University with a B.A. in Political Science, he became the College and Career Readiness Counselor at Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering, working with students grades 5th-12th.

Here in District 3, the pandemic has hit the hardest. District 3 has lost a year of progress in 2020, that is why it is important that they have a councilmember that is ready to take the big and bold action necessary to not just get them back on track but better than they ever have been.

Mark’s commitment is that the future of San Antonio will run through District 3. He will be a full-time councilman who will only owe the people of this district. He will always come to the table to meet with people and listen to residents, while being open and transparent.

Mary D. Harris
Wylie City Council, Place 4

Community leader Mary is running for City Council of Wylie, Texas.

Mary is most devoted to issues and policy changes related to community, small business, equity, and inclusion. Her goal is to grow the Wylie community and further cultivate and enrich a city that is neighbor-focused and inclusive to all.

Today Mary extends her talents in communication, relationship management, and consulting to cities and local governments as an insurance account executive and marketing expert. Mary also volunteers in the public sector, a former CASA (Court Appointed Advocate for Abused Children), and serves as a leader on the City of Wylie Ethics Board.

Mary is from Dallas, TX, and has been a resident of the Wylie and Collin County area for 10 years.

Nassat Parveen
Plano City Council, Place 4

Nassat is ready to bring a fresh perspective, and nearly a decade of community service leadership experiences, to City Hall. Originally born in Bangladesh and migrating here to America with her parents at just 6 months, Nassat is a perfect example of what the American dream is all about and will be able to represent the immigrant experience.

Nassat has been a resident of Plano since she was four years old, and plans to call Plano “home” forever. She is a proud graduate of our public schools, an educator in our school district, and has volunteered in the city since she was a teenager.

Her motivation for running comes from her own experience of working in many underserved communities in Plano where many still don’t have a voice and she aims to finally give a voice to those voiceless populations. As a millennial, Nassat brings a unique perspective from a demographic that has never been reflected in our council before.

If elected, Nassat Parveen will make history as the youngest to be on city council and will finally give a voice to the youth populations. Her mission to live by “service above self”, experiences working with marginalized groups, and an ability to understand and collaborate with people of all backgrounds and ideologies make Nassat the best choice for Plano City Council Place 4 during this time when unity is needed.

Rafael “Rafa” Diaz
Judson ISD, District 7 At-Large

Rafael, 37, currently serves as a Judson ISD Trustee for the District 7 At-Large seat. He is a father, EdTech executive, small business owner, former post-secondary instructor, School Board Partner fellow, and active servant-leader focused on helping tapping into the potential of people through education and workforce development.

He has served for over 15 years at the intersection of education, public policy, community service, and business. He brings the intersection of these positionalities to his service to re-build a stronger student-centered educational system.

His ultimate goal is to improve Judson and public education by reimagining the system and how we serve scholars of all ages. He envisions a system that increases choice and access to diverse academic programs that provide scholars, families, and educators providing stronger agency over the academic journey. He believes that the educational system must leverage cultural and identity wealth to increase student engagement and outcomes. Judson ISD must implement more and stronger anti-racist and equity policies to ensure that all scholars succeed.

Rafael is a first-generation citizen with Cuban and Mexican parents. His wife, Hon. Marisa Perez-Diaz (D) is a ten-year elected member of the Texas State Board of Education. They have two children, ages three and four, with another baby on the way.

Stephanie Bell
Mayor of Flower Mound

Stephanie is a Business Executive in Corporate America; she helps grow businesses through strategic initiatives. Stephanie is the elected President of a DFW Toastmasters chapter, where she trains and develops folks around DFW in leadership, communication, and negotiation skills. As the President, Stephanie sets the agenda and effectively runs the meetings. She also enjoys volunteering at Habitat for Humanity and North Texas Food Bank.

Joshua Cole
Virginia State House, District 28

In 2017, Joshua proudly ran for the Virginia House of Delegates to represent Virginia’s 28th District, becoming the first African-American, and youngest person to receive any party’s nomination, along the way. In a hard-fought race, Joshua finished less than 100 votes shy of having the honor of representing the 28th District. In 2019, he came back and finished the job — becoming one of the youngest members in the Virginia General Assembly.

In Richmond, Delegate Cole has voted to increase access to affordable healthcare, raise the minimum wage and make community college tuition free. He also patroned historic legislation that will rename Jefferson Davis Highway to Emancipation Highway.

WASHINGTON

Andrew Grant Houston
Mayor of Seattle

Andrew is a resident of Capitol Hill, Founder and Head of Design of House Cosmopolitan, and a member of many organizations, including Share The Cities, The Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, and The Sunrise Movement. He also currently serves as the Interim Policy Manager for Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda.

Andrew is a queer Black and Latino architect, small business owner, and activist with a vision of transforming Seattle into one of the most vibrant, sustainable cities in the world; a city where no one has to sleep outside, where local businesses and culture thrive, and where orcas start to visit once again.

Sarah DeStasio
Olympia City Council, Position 6

Sarah is a Democratic Socialist running for Olympia City Council, Position 6. She is queer, disabled and a member of the religious left. Sarah co-founded Capital Homecare Cooperative, a worker-owned caregiving agency, after serving her community as a caregiver for many years.

As her city recovers from COVID-19, Sarah wants workers to have every protection Olympia can offer them — like hazard pay and a $15 minimum wage — as well as access to affordable housing and tenant protections. She wants equity and inclusion to be not just be buzzwords but motivate structural change that mean residents have more knowledge, more access and more power when it comes to the council.

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

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