New Year, New Candidates! Check out our January Endorsements (aka 21 new badasses you need to meet)

We’re only two weeks into January and a lot has already gone down: a new Congress was sworn-in with the a record-breaking number of female legislators; the U.S. is facing the longest government shutdown in history; L.A. educators have striked for fair wages; Chris Pratt is engaged to a Schwarzenegger…

Despite the hubbub happening across the country, we’re charging full steam ahead into 2019 with 21 exceptional new candidates. Our January endorsement class is filled with bright, burgeoning leaders representing folks from all walks of life. What’s more, Chi-town is holding it down with 12 new candidates running for local seats in the Windy City.

The midterms may be over but municipal races across the country are heating up, with thousands of local seats on the ballot and ready for new, young talent. Many of these races have major implications for local and federal elections that extend beyond 2019. So meet our 21 newest endorsees and take a look at what they are bringing to their local communities!

California

James Duke Mason
West Hollywood City Council At-Large
https://jamesdukemason.com

Duke is running to bring a new generation to City Hall. From 2015 to 2017 he served on the Board of the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation. For more than 3 years he has been a city official on the West Hollywood Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, serving as Co-Chair from 2017 to 2018. In 2017 he was one of the founding co-organizers of the L.A. Pride Resist March. In his job as a public relations specialist, Duke has worked for non-profits like the WeHo-based organization Mercy For Animals. Duke has demonstrated the leadership we need to create progressive change.

Illinois

Colin Bird-Martinez
Chicago Alderman, 31st Ward
http://www.colinforchicago.com

Colin is running for Alderman in Chicago’s 31st Ward. He grew up in Oak Park, Illinois and currently works as an automotive analyst. An organizer who has been fighting for progressive change for years, Colin founded the Hermosa Neighborhood Association in 2014, which has advocated for affordable housing initiatives and infrastructure revitalization throughout his community. Colin has also served as an active member of his Local School Council since 2015. Colin is committed to putting community first, fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights, and ending segregation across Chicago. He currently lives in Hermosa with his husband, their dachshund, and two cats.

Daniel La Spata
Chicago Alderman, 1st Ward
http://daniellaspata.com

Daniel La Spata is a long-time community activist in the 1st Ward of Chicago. After attending North Park University, he moved to Logan Square in 2005 and soon got involved in the Logan Square Neighborhood Association to help develop his community, serving as a board officer for five years. In that role, La Spata helped lead the fight for the Zapata Apartments affordable housing development, advocated for better city inclusionary housing policies, and helped pass legislation to protect renters in foreclosing properties. He is currently completing his Masters in Urban Planning and Public Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and lives in Logan Square with his wife Alicia.

David Mihalyfy
Chicago Alderman 11th Ward
http://www.letourlightshine11thward.com

David is a labor and education activist running for city council in Chicago’s 11th Ward. David understands the current economy because he’s lived it. Although he’s been fortunate to receive a good education, the decline of full-time jobs with benefits has caused him to work multiple short-term and low-wage jobs a year.

During this time, he has fought in many unionization drives, including 2 recent campaigns that brought 2500+ workers into AFT-IFT and 200+ workers into Teamsters Local 743. He has also done financial investigative reporting on college student debt and “where the money goes.”

Erika Wozniak Francis
Chicago Alderman, 46th Ward
https://www.erikafor46thward.com

Erika Wozniak Francis has been a Chicago Public School teacher since her graduation from DePaul University in 2004. In 2016, Wozniak Francis was nationally recognized for her work as a teacher as a recipient of the American Federation of Teachers “Everyday Hero” Award. Wozniak Francis is co-creator, co-producer and co-host of The Girl Talk, a monthly live talk show that elevates the voices of women in leadership. She also serves on the Chicago Votes board of directors. She is firm believer in quality public education for public good. She currently resides in Uptown with her husband, Brian and dog, Miley.

Jonathan Reinoso
Grayslake Community High School Board, District 127 https://twitter.com/ReinosoforD127

Jonathan Reinoso is a 23 year old high school Spanish teacher who is looking for the opportunity to further serve here in the D127 community. After graduating from Grayslake Central High School in 2013, Jonathan went off to college at the University of Minnesota where he set to become a Spanish teacher.

Upon completing his degree, Jonathan came home to Grayslake where he began working in D46 (PreK-8th), first as a substitute teacher and shortly after as a bilingual elementary school teacher. Currently, Jonathan and his family live in Grayslake, IL where they’ve lived for over 20 years.

Katie Sieracki
Chicago City Council, 33rd Ward Alderman
https://www.katie2019.com

Katie Sieracki is a working mom of two kids who attend Chicago Public Schools and comes from a family of teachers. She brings people together — her job is to help city leaders from across the country come together to solve some of the most pressing issues. Katie is running for alderman because the third largest city in our nation can and must do better. Katie wants to bring accessibility and transparency to Chicago’s City Council. She’ll foster a ward where people want to and can afford to live, work, and play. After 40 years of one family rule, it’s time for change. Katie will be a progressive and truly independent alderman that will show up, fight relentlessly for her community, and be a leader on City Council.

Maggie O’Keefe
Chicago Alderman, 40th Ward
www.maggie2019.com

Maggie O’Keefe is a progressive woman running for 40th Ward Alderman to bring transparency, accountability and compassion to city council and to build a sustainable community on Chicago’s North Side. As a voting rights advocate and small business owner who lives and works in the community she will serve, Maggie built a grassroots, female-led, people powered campaign who created policy for neighbors, by neighbors to implement within the first year of office. Maggie will be the first woman and the first queer-identifying person to serve as 40th Ward Alderman.

Maria Hadden
Chicago Alderman, 49th Ward
https://www.mariafor49.org

Maria Hadden is the Executive Director of Our City Our Voice, a nonprofit organization she founded to enable communities and government to redesign democracy to be more collaborative and transparent. Her expertise in public participation is grounded in grassroots organizing efforts for social change, and is what she is running to bring to Chicago City Council as an Independent Progressive Alderwoman in the 49th Ward.

Marianne Lalonde
Chicago Alderman, Ward 46
http://marianneforuptown.com

Marianne Lalonde is a PhD scientist, a community leader, and a compassionate neighbor, running for City Council in Chicago’s 46th Ward. She aspires to be 46th Ward Alderman because she feels strongly that her diverse ward should be inclusive and accessible for all members of the community, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or mental health status. She is a champion of increasing access to neighborhood assets, affordable housing, and for gun violence prevention. Marianne would be the first scientist on Chicago’s city council, where her technical expertise will serve her not only to advocate for science based causes like sustainability, but to view data critically and effectively.

Matt Martin
Illinois Alderman, 47th Ward
https://www.matt47.com

Matt Martin is a civil rights attorney at the Illinois Attorney General’s office, where he has worked on police reform and immigration. He lives in Lincoln Square with his wife, Katelyn, and three-year-old son, Isaac. At home, he serves on the McPherson local school council, co-founded his neighborhood association, and served on Alderman Pawar’s Zoning Advisory Council.

Michael Negron
Chicago City Council, 47th Ward
http://negronfor47.com

Michael is a lifelong Chicagoan with 15 years of experience in public service. He served in the Navy after college and worked for both President Obama and Elizabeth Warren in Washington during the depths of the financial crisis. In 2011, Michael returned to Chicago to be a policy advisor to Mayor Emanuel where he helped raise the minimum wage, create a free community college program for Chicago Public Schools students that graduate with a B average, and establish a legal defense fund for undocumented residents. Michael was raised in a union, immigrant household and graduated from Harvard Law School.

Michael D. Rodriguez
Chicago Alderman, 22nd Ward
http://www.mikerodriguez.org

Michael D. Rodríguez has experience as a community organizer, non-profit leader and youth mentor. Mike is the Democratic Committeeman of the 22nd Ward, and was elected the Executive Vice Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, the youngest person to ever serve in the role. Mr. Rodríguez completed a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration where he was awarded the Elizabeth Butler Distinguished Alumni Award and the Community Impact Award from Neighborhood Housing Services. President Barack Obama named Mr. Rodríguez, one of 12 national ‘Champions of Change’ in Youth Violence Prevention in 2012.

Parth R. Patel
Bartlett Public Library District Trustee
www.twitter.com/parthforlibrary

Parth is running for a 6 Year Term as a Bartlett Public Library District Trustee. A longtime resident of Bartlett, Parth combines his background as a CPA with his experience as a community activist to push for transformative social impact. He currently serves as a co-organizer with Fossil Free Bartlett, a local climate activist group, and he has previously served as an Admin with Action 6th District Illinois. Parth brings an orientation towards equity, justice, and solidarity to each role and project.

Ugo Okere
Chicago City Council, 40th Ward Alderman
https://www.ugo2019.com

Ugo Okere is a community organizer and Nigerian immigrant who is running to be the next 40th Ward Alderman on Chicago’s City Council. Ugo has organized for racial and economic justice across Chicago, and is working to create a city council that will put working people and community accountability first.

He has worked as organizer with Anakbyan Chicago, served as chairman of Fuerza del Sol, worked in the Chicago City Clerk’s Office and the Chicago Federal Executive Board, and is currently the community engagement coordinator with the Evanston City Clerk’s Office. Ugo received his Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor’s of Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. A member of the Democratic Socialists of America, Ugo is dedicated to progressive policies and shaping a ward and city that works for all.

Indiana

Ali Brown
Indianapolis City- County Council, District 5
http://aliforindy.com

Alison Brown is a small business owner and former nonprofit executive. After a lifetime of standing tall for others, Ali is running for Indianapolis City-County Council to make real change in her community. From her activist work with organizations like Freedom Indiana to her efforts connecting people with new careers as a workforce development nonprofit executive, Ali has dedicated her life to empowering people and lifting up her community.

Michigan

Amani Johnson
Southfield City Council
https://www.amanijohnson.com

Amani is a life-long resident of Southfield and proud graduate of Southfield Public Schools. He knows how government works because of his experience as a member of the Southfield Parks & Recreation Board as well as in the offices of Southfield City Administrator Fred Zorn, former Mayor Brenda Lawrence, Representative Vanessa Guerra, and former Representative Jeremy Moss. Amani holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Public & Nonprofit Administration from Central Michigan University and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Urban Planning from Wayne State University.

South Carolina

Tina Belge
State Senate, District 6
https://www.tinabelge.org

Tina is a public servant, activist, and new mom who wants to further her career in government through public office, running for a state senate seat that has never been opposed by the Democratic party. As a community planner she works with neighborhoods to address problems and improve lives but is constantly upheld by state barriers or laws. By impacting her state through legislation she hopes to make our communities safer, bring equality to the South Carolina, and better protect our environment as well as bring a voice to women and mothers in her state. Tina has a Masters of Public Administration in Community and Economic Development.

Wisconsin

Avra Reddy
Madison City Council, District 8
https://www.avraformadison.com/

Avra is a 19 year-old student at University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 2016 she worked as a fellow for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, fighting for progressive candidates. Following her fellowship, Avra served as a student representative for 2 years on her district school board in her hometown of Grayslake, Illinois. In 2018, Avra returned to Madison to attend school at UW. During her first semester she worked on the 2018 midterms, helping democrats in Wisconsin sweep the ballot. After witnessing women of color like Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez win elections during midterms, Avra was inspired to run for office.

Matthew Mitnick
Madison City Council, District 8
https://www.matthewmitnick.com

Matthew Mitnick is an 18-year old freshman at the University of Wisconsin — Madison. Matthew believes that residents in his heavily student populated district should be represented by a peer in local government who will advocate on their behalf. He is fighting for affordable housing, public safety, LGBTQ+ & women’s rights, sustainable development, quality mass transportation, environmental sustainability, and student engagement. Among Matthew’s passions are helping underserved kids and promoting public health, as he formed a nonprofit chapter to help low income youth and enjoys running marathons in his free time.

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