New Year, New Candidates: Meet Our February 2021 Endorsement Class

Run for Something
33 min readFeb 10, 2021

After a jam-packed January, we’re back with an all new round of 2021 endorsed candidates! This month, we are proud to endorse 42 amazing 2021 candidates — 33 new candidates and 9 alumni running for office again. As you may have read in our 2021–2022 Strategic Plan, there are no off years — we are just as committed to developing a pipeline of young diverse talent across the county as we were in 2017.

Of our endorsements today: 56% identify as women, 28% identify as LGBTQIA+, and 51% identify as BIPOC. Beyond statistics, this new class represents some of RFS’ core values and tenants: they’re bold & fearless, open & honest, progressive & diverse. Take a look at some of this month’s notable candidates:

  • Madison, Wisconsin, candidate Ayomi Obuseh got her start as a youth organizer in Madison West High School demanding a more inclusive environment for students and staff of color. She has continued her social justice work as the co-founder and Executive Director for Impact Demand and an organizer for the Madison 4 Black Lives Movement.
  • New York City Council candidate Mino Lora is an artist, activist, and educator. With the $400 she saved from waiting tables, Mino founded People’s Theatre Project — a social justice arts nonprofit, which employs a staff of 30, has an operating budget of $1 million, and serves 1,000 young people annually with free programming.
  • San Antonio educator Jalen McKee-Rodriguez is running a grassroots campaign in one of the most economically segregated cities in the country. In his race, Jalen is the only candidate to commit to rejecting developer and corporate PAC contributions, and the only candidate to commit to paying my campaign staff a $15 liveable wage.
  • Boston City Council candidate Kendra Hicks is a first-gen Afro-Dominicana who has worked as an activist in Boston since the age of 13.For the last five years, Kendra has been the Director of Radical Philanthropy at the historic Boston-based organization Resist.
  • Attorney and Boston City Council candidate Alex Gray is running to become Boston’s first-ever blind City Councilor and if elected in 2021 he would be the only blind City Councilor serving in America.

Our latest class of candidates have deep roots in their communities and are committed to building strong relationships at the local level. They’re prioritizing issues such as affordable housing, a living wage, equity in schools, and accessible public transportation, and are laying down a foundation that will provide their constituents with much-needed relief both now and in the future.

Learn more about their goals and platforms below! Also — as always — if you are interested in helping us recruit more candidates to run and win in 2021 and beyond, contribute or volunteer today!

CANDIDATES

ALABAMA

Marche`Johnson
Montgomery City Council, District 3

Marche` Johnson selflessly served this great nation as a member of The United States Army. During her time in service, Johnson dedicated her life to honor and sacrifice both stateside as well as in the Maysan Province in Iraq and Kandahar, Afghanistan. Marche’s time in service has resulted in her being a recipient of many awards and accolades including but not limited to: earning A Bachelors Degree of Science in Psychology from Troy University, three Army Commendation Medals, six Army Achievement Medals, two Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, and Army Service Ribbon. She also holds a Master of Science in Human Services.

Marche’s days of serving the country have come to an end but her service to the District 3 community of Montgomery is just beginning. Johnson hopes to change the narrative of distrust between community and local officials by facilitating collaboration, communication, and education around addressing issues present in District 3. She believes that the community’s voice should be heard and that District 3 deserves a champion to not only deliver those concerns to city hall but stand firmly to get things done. Johnson’s unwavering faith in Montgomery’s ability to change and prosper combined with her merit as a leader, makes her an ideal candidate for District 3 City Council. As she’s done many times, Marche’ is On The Move and ready to lead by example!

CALIFORNIA

Jace Dawson
Compton City Council, District 2

Dr. Jace Dawson is a community professional who dedicated his adult life advocating for seniors and youth. Jace has a track record of being focused and dedicated, with proven results. Jace first moved to Compton at age 2 with his two military parents.

Graduating high school at age 14 was the first step toward proving his self-worth, while embracing Cesar Chavez and Dr Martin Luther King Jr as role models. While working with the Obama administration, he returned back to the city of Compton, seven years ago. Although his tasks kept him busy, he became the youth pastor at his home church working heavily in the nearby communities.

In Compton, Jace has worked on beautification and cleanup projects, independently and along with local organizations. During the pandemic he has also worked on food drives, personally drove seniors to pick up medications, utilized his own vehicle to assist families to and from the grocery stores and more. Jace brings present leadership, new city contracts, and a safer beautified community.

ILLINOIS

Bryan Amezquita
Rockford City Council

Bryan Amezquita is running as a candidate for Rockford’s 4th Ward. He was born and raised in the Rockford area and graduated from Rock Valley College with an Associates of Arts and Rockford University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Education with a special education endorsement. He and his high school sweetheart were married in Rockford and they both went on to teach at Rockford Public School 205. He is currently a small business owner and the CEO of a local company.

Bryan is running because he believes the people of his community need leaders that are working proactively. He also feels that his community needs someone who knows the importance of open transparency while working towards the needs of constituents. Bryan’s goal is to ensure Rockford continues to be the best city to work in, invest in, and raise a family. Along the way, he hopes to get younger people involved with our local government and show their voices can be heard.

Chama St. Louis
Mayor of Peoria

Chama St. Louis is an economic and racial justice community organizer who specializes in building coalitions. She’s running to be Mayor of Peoria; a deeply segregated city both in terms of where people live and the different economic opportunities. Peoria is ranked one of the worst cities for Blacks with the area schools being the most segregated. One in four residents are in or near poverty and unemployment is high in Peoria. Peoria is a millennial city and has great potential due to its geographic location, access to transportation, natural resources, major industries, and highly skilled residents but has been falling behind due to status quo leadership.

Chama wants to economically empower residents through a monthly stimulus, supporting local scalable and startup businesses, closing the job skills gap, and reinvesting in our older neighborhoods making them attractive to live. She has 17 years of experience working in her community both as a community organizer and as an advocate for Black businesses. Chama spent 12 years at the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce with four years serving as the youngest President and Chairperson of the Peoria Black Chamber of Commerce advocating for policy at the state level and connecting businesses with national and international opportunities. Most importantly, Chama is the mother of Ryann, 14, Ellie, 12, & Pharaoh, 8.

Jackie Gunderson
Mayor of Bloomington

Jackie Gunderson is a clear-sighted leader who is dedicated to ensuring Bloomington is a welcoming and inclusive city where everyone has a seat at the table. She possesses the motivation, creativity, and leadership skills necessary to serve and represent Bloomington residents. Jackie firmly believes that government should be serving the people it represents, and people should have access to their government. She felt called to run because our local government has some work to do in order to be more transparent and accessible to its residents, and she wants local government to reflect the amazing individuals that call this city home. Jackie wants to bring a fresh perspective of continuous improvement and forward progress, with everyday working people at the center.

Jackie is a Procurement Manager at Illinois State University, responsible for construction and facilities purchases, public bidding and solicitation processes, evaluating proposals, securing contracts, and reporting to the State of Illinois. She has previous leadership experience in environmental, health, safety, and risk management in a manufacturing setting. Outside of her professional roles, she serves as the Director of the Penguin Project of McLean County, a non-profit organization creating unrestricted access to the performing arts for children and young adults with developmental disabilities.

Nashra Mohammed
Lincolnwood District 74 School Board

Nashra Mohammed is currently attending DePaul University where she is majoring in Management Information Systems and minoring in Community Service. She aspires to pursue a career in Law. She worked with the Democratic Party of Evanston in support of Laura Fine and Jan Schakowsky where she attended meetings, held phone banks, and gathered signatures in the area. Working with Laura Fine during her senior year of high school heightened her passion for a push for quality education. Mohammed worked as an election judge her senior year where she became more interested in her community. Mohammed has been part of several charity organizations in hoping to make the world a better place. She worked with organizations such as Feed My Starving Children, The Chicago Coalition of the Homeless, and The Humanity Projects throughout her career.

Over the course of the summer of 2020, Mohammed worked with Northwestern University to establish an efficient way to provide basic civic education and facilitate voter registration to first-year students and transferees at DePaul University. She saw that students were uniquely susceptible to a large number of barriers while voting and wanted to find a solution. Mohammed is also the recipient of the Community Service Scholarship at DePaul University and completes 90 service learning hours every year. In addition to running for the school board for the second time, Mohammed is currently the youngest board member for The Chicago Area Peace Action Organization, the founding member and President of IGNITE DePaul and she also serves on the Environmental Committee for the Village of Lincolnwood and the Dean Student Advisory Board at DePaul University. At the age of 20, Mohammed is full of enthusiasm to change the world.

Nathaniel Groh
Palatine Township Trustee

Nathaniel Groh is running for Palatine Township Trustee because he believes in the need for good governance and is dedicated to standing up for economic and social justice for the people of Palatine Township. Nathaniel has a long record of political organizing and government service. He served as State Representative Mark Walker’s District Office Director where he worked daily to ensure the Representatives constituency was well served by state government. His work in political organizing has given him a deep understanding of community engagement and active mobilization of people and their power. Nathaniel is committed to listening to scientists and believes that during these challenging times of COVID-19 the stark realities of our institutions have been highlighted and the deep economic and social injustices made worse. The need for representatives who listen to science and prioritize community health is apparent and the long neglect for community health both economic and social has borne out stale fruit. Good governance, over the long term, is vital to battling the current and future crises. Nathaniel believes that that good governance must start here, at home, in Palatine Township.

MASSACHUSETTS

Alex Gray
Boston City Council, At Large

Alex Gray is a Democrat running to become Boston’s first-ever blind City Councilor and if elected in 2021 he would be the only blind City Councilor serving in America. He is an attorney who currently serves as an advisor to Mayor Martin Walsh and the City of Boston and formerly was an advisor to Governor Deval Patrick. He helped to start Boston’s first-ever Tuition Free Community College Plan under Walsh and helped to launch the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line under Patrick. Gray will focus on ensuring an equitable recovery from COVID-19 for Boston, creating more affordable and physically accessible housing options, expanding educational opportunities, and fighting for good jobs that both pay living wages and provide benefits. Gray is a graduate of Boston College and Suffolk University Law School. He lives in Jamaica Plain with his wife, Lauren. He is on the Board of the Friends of the Jamaica Plain Library and is an active member of the Boston Bar Association serving on their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Section.

Ayesha Wilson
Cambridge School Committee

Ayesha Wilson is running for reelection to the School Committee in Cambridge, Mass. She grew up in the Jefferson Park Public Housing Development in a single-parent first-generation American household and attended public school in Cambridge, and she is the first black woman who grew up in the Cambridge Housing Authority to serve on the Cambridge School Committee. Ayesha’s wealth of personal experience with the issues faced in her community informs her approach to leadership every day. Throughout her life and career, she has been advocating for and engaging with the community, and specifically young people. Ayesha earned her Associate’s Degree in Human Services from Urban College of Boston, then her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Work from Wheelock College. In addition to serving on the School Committee, she currently works for the Cambridge Housing Authority in youth development and as a live-in support specialist for adults with special needs. Ayesha also serves as secretary for the NAACP Cambridge Branch and on the Board of Directors of YWCA Cambridge, and is an alum of Emerge Massachusetts. She is passionate about voter literacy, mental health, and making sure that our most vulnerable particularly in communities of color and for those most underserved have all of their needs met. She particularly values being a strong role model for young people who want to give back to their community. Many of the projects she has worked on have been aimed at instilling these skills and knowledge in youth, creating the next generation of activists, advocates, and legislators.

Kendra Hicks
Boston City Council, District 6

Kendra Hicks is a first-gen Afro-Dominicana. Raised by a working-class immigrant family in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, she is intimately familiar with what can happen when our policies don’t prioritize our most vulnerable communities. Kendra believes in public schools that are diverse and resource rich, finding different ways of preventing, responding to, and healing from violence, affordable, safe, and stable homes, free and accessible public transit, putting people over profit, democratizing workspaces, guaranteeing sustainable livelihoods and environmental protections that keep Boston’s most vulnerable communities healthy and resilient in the face of climate change.

RJ Sheedy
Milford School Committee

RJ is running for School Committee in Milford, Massachusetts because he cares about and loves his town and wants to give back where he sees he can. His commitments to the Town of Milford includes serving as an elected Town Meeting Member, being the vice chair of the Milford Democratic Town Committee, and being a member of Milford TV since its inception, where his credits include hosting, producing, and editing many shows, including his own, since 2013.

MISSOURI

Anne Schweitzer
St. Louis Board of Aldermen

Anne was born and raised in South St. Louis City, where she is running for office. She received a Politics and Environmental Studies degree from Brandeis University in Massachusetts. When she was 20, she rode her bike across the country in support of affordable housing. After college, Anne worked as a community organizer at a community development corporation, mostly around tenants’ rights. In 2012, she moved back to St. Louis and began working as a publicist, writing words for candidates, companies, and non-profits. As a candidate, her priorities are boosting St. Louis and holistically addressing safety, education, and development.

Anne volunteers as a clinic escort with NARAL. She co-founded the Young Friends of Forest ReLeaf and has planted dozens of trees in the St. Louis region. She is a member of the Friends of Carondelet Park Board, an urban homesteader (talk to her if you have thought about backyard chickens!), a foster parent and foster coordinator with Stray Haven Feline Rescue, and a member of the First Neighbor Program with St. Joseph Housing Initiative.

NEW JERSEY

Joseph Signorello
New Jersey Senate, District 21

Joseph Signorello is running for State Senate in NJ’s 21st legislative district because he wants to jumpstart NJ’s economy by bringing in cutting-edge technology and science jobs to central New Jersey. As the Mayor of Roselle Park, Joe sees firsthand the economic struggles of his residents. As families are moving to Florida, and recent college graduates are flocking to cities, Roselle Park and the towns of the 21st legislative district are being left behind. If elected, Joe will fight to decrease property taxes, restore funding to our schools, and save our environment by making NJ carbon neutral.

NEW YORK

Adolfo Abreu
New York City Council, District 14

Adolfo Abreu is a 27-year-old organizer and public servant from the northwest Bronx on a lifelong path to build power with community, from the ground up. He is running for City Council in District 14 because he believes in creating a just recovery and an economy that cares for all of us. Adolfo is running to transform the Bronx in co-governance with community members and on the ground stakeholders to fight for homes guarantee, community control, community health and wellness to guarantee care for all, economic democracy, just and quality education without policed schools, and defunding the police.

Adolfo brings to the Council race a youthful, passionate and fresh voice rooted in the struggle of Bronxites backed with real organizing, campaign, policy, and governing experience. Adolfo started organizing at age 11 with Sistas & Brothas United, the youth organizing arm of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) and was an active member of the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, a coalition of community and labor groups that successfully prevented a poverty-wage real estate development project in the 14th council district. Served as Field Director for State Senators Gustavo Rivera and Alessandra Biaggi in campaigns that led to momentous victories. Together, with his community, Adolfo will transform the Bronx and our city — from the ground up.

Aleda Gagarin
New York City Council, District 29

Aleda Gagarin is a Queer mother of three, a local activist and community organizer, a nonprofit leader, and a volunteer CYO youth basketball coach. She works for a nonprofit that connects people working to make the world a better place with resources to help them do it. Aleda believes that building a just and equitable future for all is not only possible, but absolutely necessary. Aleda is running for NYC Council because we are facing crises in public health, housing, the environment, and policing the likes of which we have never seen. But with these crises comes the opportunity to reimagine what it means to be a New Yorker, and how we take care of each other.

Her core values lie in a deep sense of community, in the creed that all people have the same fundamental rights, and in the conviction that our liberation is bound. She believes that healthcare, education, housing, and food security are human rights. That all work has value and that all wages should be livable. She knows that none of us are free until all of us are free. Aleda dares to envision a future in which all New Yorkers get quality education, healthcare, and housing; a future beyond prisons and policing; and a future that is built on a caring, sustainable economy that doesn’t leave New Yorkers suffering on the margins.

Chi Ossé
New York City Council, District 36

Chi Ossé is a third-generation Brooklynite, activist, and political candidate from Crown Heights. Ossé is a prominent figure in the revitalization of the Black Lives Matter Movement, marching alongside the activist collective Warriors in the Garden. Understanding that the NYC City Council is tasked with governing NYC’s vital and important systems, Ossé decided to take it upon himself to run for office and fight against the inequities that are visible in his community. On Juneteenth of 2020, Ossé announced his bid for City Council in the 36th district to be part of the change!

Throughout his childhood Ossé witnessed the negative effects of gentrification, police brutality, education inequality, economic disparity, health care gaps and food deserts in his community. As an activist-candidate, Chi will tackle the issues with creative and practical ideas that work across New York City. Ossé is focused on the Three Rs: Reimagine, Reinvest & Renew. As the Councilmember from the 36th District, he intends to sponsor initiatives that will reimagine how we govern the City; how we reinvest capital and resources; to renew & repair the relationships citizens have with their government and neighbors.

Elizabeth Adams
New York City Council, District 33

Elizabeth Adams is an advocate, educator, and lifelong tenant, running for District 33 in Brooklyn, NY, an area that has faced significant community displacement. Growing up in a rent-stabilized, UFT household and New York City’s public schools, Elizabeth holds the belief that we can always do more for our neighbors. That value is needed now more than ever. After years working in advocacy for Planned Parenthood, Elizabeth went to work as the District’s Legislative Director in the City Council because she wanted to make government work better for our communities. She saw what was happening across Brooklyn, and entered public service to gain the tools to better meet our city’s needs.

Running for City Council is personal to Elizabeth. Policies that afforded her family security and affordability growing up, like rent stabilization, are being stripped away from New Yorkers, while luxury development has harmed our waterfronts and compromised our environment. Elizabeth is a first-time candidate running to build a strong feminist Council, after seeing firsthand the ways that government has failed to center women, LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers, and families of color during this crisis and beyond. New York City is facing tough years ahead -and more than ever we need leaders with the lived experience and fresh ideas to ensure we not only bounce back, but we create a better New York and a more equitable pathway for prosperity for every one of us.

Jill Basile
Otsego County Board, District 14

Jill Basile is a wife, mother and fulltime employee running for a second term on Otsego County Board of Representatives, District 14 (City of Oneonta Wards 7 & 8).

Jill has been an Oneonta resident since the age of four and has lived in District 14 for over seven years. Jill is dedicated to both Oneonta and Otsego County. Jill is passionate, driven and ready for the rewarding challenge of representing her community. Jill is focused on local economic recovery from the Covid19 pandemic, delivering transparent information to county residents and committed to hiring a County Administrator.

Mino Lora
New York City Council, District 11

Mino Lora is an artist, activist, educator, and the Executive Director of People’s Theatre Project (PTP). Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, she moved to the U.S. at 19 years old to attend Manhattanville College where she earned her B.A. in English Literature & Theatre; and later, her M.A. in Peace Studies & Conflict Transformation from The Graduate Institute. With the $400 she saved from waiting tables, Mino founded People’s Theatre Project — a social justice arts nonprofit, which employs a staff of 30, has an operating budget of $1 million, and serves 1,000 young people annually with free programming. From launching English literacy programs at her college, to teaching theater in South Africa to girls impacted by HIV, and helping teens produce plays in partnership with the Obama Administration’s U.S. State Department — Mino has worked with thousands of students in schools across NYC and internationally.

Additionally, Mino serves on the New York Immigrant Coalition (NYIC) and Northern Manhattan Agenda (NMA) Leadership Councils where she met with Senator Schumer to advocate for the inclusion of all immigrants in the federal COVID-relief bill; and partnered with the Governor’s Office to guarantee the vaccine rollout didn’t include invasions of privacy by ICE. Mino lives in the Bronx with her husband Bob and their two young children. She’s running for New York City Council to represent District 11 in the Bronx, on a progressive, anti-racist platform focused on justice for all. Mino is endorsed by the Working Families Party.

Selvena Brooks-Powers
New York City Council, District 31

A lifelong resident of Southeast Queens, Selvena Brooks-Powers has devoted her life to fighting and delivering for women and working people. She is the proud daughter of immigrants from Jamaica, West Indies.

Selvena’s reputation as an effective leader and credible community organizer comes from years of high-impact initiatives on critical issues, including education, voter empowerment, racial and economic justice, M/WBE opportunities, domestic violence and workers’ rights.

Selvena was a vital part of the team that clinched the first Democratic Majority in over 40 years in the NYS Senate. She held several key roles while working within the Senate, including as Press Secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Majority Leader.

Selvena joined the SEIU family in 2012 and in the Fight for $15 campaign. Selvena helped mobilize and ultimately unionize co-workers under the United Media Guild of CWA, where she was unanimously elected delegate for the northeast region. Previously, Selvena worked in the NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, and served as an advisor to the NAACP Jamaica Youth Branch.

Currently, Selvena is the Manager for External Affairs and Community Outreach with the JFK Redevelopment Program. She is a member of Allen Liturgical Dance Ministry and the Queens Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Selvena serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Martin de Porres Youth and for the Ocean Breeze Condominiums at Arverne by the Sea.

Shekar Krishnan
New York City Council, District 25

Shekar Krishnan is a proud son of immigrants, a public school parent, a community advocate, and a civil rights lawyer who has devoted his career to fighting for low-income tenants in some of the most vulnerable neighborhoods in New York City. His advocacy has focused on amplifying the voices of those so frequently unheard by powerful institutions and on organizing for dignified and just treatment for communities of color.
Shekar and his family have called Jackson Heights their home for years, but Shekar’s connection to the district runs far beyond even his own life. His parents immigrated from South India and worked tirelessly to build a life for their family in this country. For them, 74th Street in Jackson Heights — where they would come to buy their groceries and essentials — was the only place that reminded them of a home 10,000 miles away.
Now, Shekar is fighting to make sure that our city can be a home for all. He is fighting for housing as a human right and for a city that stops tearing families apart through policing and incarceration and instead builds communities up through fully funded public housing, public education, and health care for all. His vision is for a city that strives for equity and that centers the voices, experiences, and needs of the most vulnerable in our neighborhoods — low-income residents of color, immigrants, and LGBTQIA+ communities.

Steven Patzer
New York City Council, District 47

Steven Patzer is running a mission-driven campaign for New Yorks’s 47th City Council district because we need leadership we can count on in a crisis. A community advocate, entrepreneur, and lifelong resident of southern Brooklyn, Steven is producing event after event for the communities of south-central Brooklyn such as career-related toy drives, COVID-19 relief operations, job fairs, street cleanups, and educational workshops. Patzer secured online educational materials for students, worked for the Simon Wiesenthal Center fighting for stronger hate crime legislation, and secured over $50,000 in personal protective equipment for our police officers, hospital workers, sanitation workers, and other first responders during the height of the Pandemic.

In the City Council, Patzer will: 1. Fight to fund critical, hands-on skilled trade educational programs for our children. 2. Protect residents from unfair rent hikes and property tax increases. 3. Create more cost-effective apartments by making basements safe and liveable. 4. Build upon his experience from serving on the Auxiliary Board of Kingsborough Community College to increase College access for New Yorkers at all income levels. Steven is the product of a public schooling education and a single-parent household. He is currently working on job fairs in high unemployment areas, environmental sustainability projects, and community policing initiatives. Steven has and knows, we can create an impact, now.

Kenya Handy-Hilliard
New York City Council, District 40

Kenya Handy-Hilliard is a Brooklyn raised public servant who has lived in Prospect Lefferts Gardens since she was three years old. Handy-Hilliard has worked for all levels of government, advocating for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, leading campaigns designed to protect and expand women’s reproductive rights; championing increased access to capital and technical support for MWBEs, and organizing a coalition of local, state, and federal administrators, elected officials, and non-profits to end “Stop and Frisk” policing practices.

In New York, Handy-Hilliard has worked with local community stakeholders, organizations, and elected officials to increase affordable housing options. She’s also organized Brooklyn NYCHA tenant leaders to advocate for building improvements and partnered with local housing organizations to prevent foreclosure, mortgage fraud, deed theft, and tenant harassment. Her experience has inspired her to run for City Council so that she can use her skills, expertise, and passion to transform government, help lead COVID-19 economic recovery and resiliency efforts and improve the quality of life for her fellow District 40 residents.

Kristin Andrzejewski
Syracuse City Council At-Large, District 5

Kristin Andrzejewski is a former small business owner and vocal social justice advocate who believes we are all in this together. She is running to represent District 5 in the City of Syracuse, a city with one of the highest rates of concentrated poverty in the nation. Kristin is fighting for more transparency and community oversight of policing, a stronger and more accessible support system for our small businesses, and equitable access to health care and mental health resources. Her diverse professional background stretching from running her own restaurant, to running a financial institution, will bring a new perspective to the Syracuse Common Council.

Lincoln Restler
New York City Council, District 33

Lincoln Restler is running in New York’s City Council District 33, the district he’s lived in his whole life. Lincoln grew up in Brooklyn Heights and has lived in Greenpoint for over a decade. He’s been an outspoken leader in the effort to clean up Brooklyn politics having helped found reform club New Kings Democrats and beating the Brooklyn machine to win a District Leader race to represent Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Lincoln has deep experience across 10 years in city government, spearheading implementation of IDNYC, the city’s municipal identification card program, and a number of anti-poverty initiatives. He has also served as Executive Director of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition, which supports job training efforts across NYC.

Deeply rooted in our community, Lincoln most recently worked at St Nicks Alliance, the largest youth and senior services provider in North Brooklyn. He formerly served as secretary of Community Board 2 in Downtown Brooklyn, and has been actively involved with local libraries, parks, and nonprofits across the district. A diverse and dynamic coalition is forging around this campaign, which has been endorsed by the NY Working Families Party, Rep. Nydia Velázquez, State Senators Julia Salazar and Jabari Brisport, Cynthia Nixon, Zephyr Teachout, all seven NYCHA Tenant Association Presidents in District 33, the United Federation of Teachers, the Labor Strong 2021 coalition, Teamsters Local 202 New York Communities for Change, VOCAL-NY Action Fund, Churches United for Fair Housing, the leading LGBTQ+ political clubs, Lambda Independent Democrats and Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club.

Pierina Sanchez
New York City Council District 14

Pierina is an Afro-Dominicana, daughter of immigrants, and lifelong Bronxite, born in University Heights and raised in Kingsbridge, where her family strove to make a life for her and her brothers. She learned the value of hard work at an early age — watching her elders sell oranges, drive taxis, clean buildings and schools — to ensure she and her generation had a chance at higher education and opportunity in this country. Pierina is a proud alumna of Bronx public schools P.S. 46 and M.S. 45, and the Academy of Mount Saint Ursula. She knows the value of public youth programs because the Bronx Community College Upward Bound program helped her excel. She went on to graduate from Harvard University on a full scholarship, and earn a Master in Public Affairs degree from Princeton University. All along the way, Pierina has been guided by the values that those closest to the problems must be closest to the solutions; those being pushed out should be brought in; the voices being silenced must be heard; those who have been historically excluded, silenced — womxn, people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community — should be the change agents and decision makers.

Tricia Shimamura
New York City Council, District 5

Tricia Shimamura is a mom, social worker, community activist, and proud Japanese-Puerto Rican woman running to represent District 5 (Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, and parts of El Barrio and Midtown East) on the New York City Council. Tricia began her career as a school social worker in a New York City public school, where she saw firsthand the struggles students face trying to rise above systemic inequality. Seeking to solve the root causes of inequity and injustice, Tricia served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, where she focused on community-centered policies and constituent services.

Tricia helped deliver healthcare to 9/11 first responders, fought for funding for parks and open space, and supported residents and small businesses recovering from Superstorm Sandy. Now working in higher education, Tricia advocates on behalf of international and undocumented students, and fights for investments in science and education. She is the Founder of She Will Rise, a nonprofit organization building a pipeline of young women leaders in NYC. Tricia also serves as the Vice Chair of Manhattan Community Board 8 and Co-Chair of the Parks and Waterfront Committee. When elected, Tricia will be the first woman of color to represent her community at any level of government and will be the first Japanese-American elected to public office in New York state.

OHIO

Justin Bibb
Mayor of Cleveland

Justin Bibb is a community advocate and nonprofit leader running for Mayor of Cleveland to create a safer, healthier, and more resilient city. Right now, Cleveland is at a crossroads. Violent crime and homicides rates are reaching record highs, businesses are collapsing, evictions are on the rise and black babies are dying before their first birthday.

Now more than ever, the city needs a bold, dynamic and visionary leader who will bring new ideas and a sense of urgency to addressing some of our most systemic challenges.

These problems are not new and that’s why it’s time for change. As mayor, Justin will champion a new generation of leadership to solve Cleveland’s oldest problems and modernize city government.

Cleveland needs a leader who understands tough times to get us through these tough times and Justin has the experience, values and compassion we need to help improve the lives of Cleveland’s kids and families. As the son of a social worker and first responder, Justin was raised to put others first, even when his family was struggling themselves.

Having gone to law school and completed an MBA, founded two nonprofits, served on the regional transit board, named Vice President of a major community bank and advised dozens of mayors across the country on leveraging data and technology, Justin will bring his personal and professional experience in the public and private sector to develop collaborative solutions, unify the city and lead Cleveland to economic recovery.

OKLAHOMA

Megan Scott
Oklahoma City Council, Ward 1

Megan Scott spent the past twelve years of her life working in public service. For six of those years, she learned the importance of compassion and hard work as she responded to multiple public health emergencies such as H1N1 and the Moore 2013 Tornado, while working in a local county health department. She went on to work in early childhood policy and non-profit grants management before landing in workforce development. Throughout her public service career, she has learned that the best way to grow our economy is by investing in the people who do the work, by providing access to work with better wages, mental health care, housing, and more public transit.

Megan was born to Southern Baptist missionaries in Asuncion, Paraguay, but has lived in Oklahoma the last 21 years, graduating from Shawnee High School before getting her degree in art from Oklahoma Baptist University. Megan recently completed her master of public administration and has lived in Oklahoma City with her husband, Russell, and daughter for the last eleven years. Megan is running for city council so that all people, no matter their ability, race, status, or age, will have the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from the Oklahoma City government. She will fight for more funding to reduce homelessness, increase access to public transit and mental health care.

PENNSYLVANIA

Bethani Cameron
Pittsburgh City Council, District 4

Bethani is a single mom to an amazing, 9-year-old boy. She’s a proud Pittsburgh Public Schools’ parent who’s dining room has become their joint workspace, his third-grade classroom, and, now, her campaign office. Bethani has worked in organizing, non-profits, and the private sector, but her years in city government revealed a dogged dedication to fixing our city’s problems. She knows that when we refuse to settle for scraps, we can make Pittsburgh work for all of us.

Bethani has seen that our city government leaves South Pittsburgh behind. She wants to fight to make sure our kids have the same opportunities as everyone else, and that our neighborhoods get the resources we deserve from the city. Our city and our people are facing challenges we never could have imagined, without enough resources to go around. That’s why we need a single mom on City Council; because single mamas don’t make excuses, they get the work done without enough money, time, or help. That’s the leadership we need to make Pittsburgh work for everybody.

Taiba Sultana
Easton City Council, District 3

Taiba Sultana is running for Easton City Council in District 3. She was born into a middle class family and raised by a single mother. She immigrated from Pakistan to Pennsylvania decades ago.

Taiba Sultana is a social activist and a community organizer. Her dedication and passion have earned her seats on the many committees. She served as a member of Governor Wolf’s Commission on Higher Education and as a member of the College Textbook Policies Advisory for the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. She is a Vice-Chair of the Northampton County Democratic Party and an elected member of Easton Democratic Committee. In addition to her work with Democratic Party, Sultana is a member of the NAACP, Emerge PAC and a frequent volunteer for the American Cancer Society and at local shelters.

Sultana believes that we must continue to improve “Quality of Life” initiatives such as: safe streets, repaved streets, flood mitigation, working toward a greener/carbon neutral city, safer traffic flow, and bringing a walk-able grocery center within city limits.

Cortez Patton
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge

Cortez has spent his career helping protect and empower marginalized people in Philadelphia. He has worked to reform the criminal justice system, reduce occupational licensing barriers faced by entrepreneurs and returning citizens, create pathways to economic mobility, ensure students receive the specialized education services they require, and so much more. Cortez believes the legal system can and must provide an environment for all parties to be treated fairly, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status. He knows the law can be a tool for community stability.

Cortez will never stop working to end disparities in the legal system. He knows the system is lacking in compassion and perspective. And, it is not possible to have just results if we continue to elect judges who do not understand or acknowledge the humanity of the people who appear before them. Equity is the foundation of his work. Cortez is committed to providing every resource available to help stabilize people’s lives. He has the roots, relationships, and knowledge we need to start rebuilding trust in the Philadelphia legal system.

Matthew Shorraw
Mayor of Monessen

Matt is a 4th generation Monessenite, running to be re-elected as Mayor of Monessen — the hometown that he loves. Matt is committed to making Monessen a better place, by improving the city’s laws, functions, transparency, and integrity. He is also committed to fighting systemic corruption, attracting new residents and businesses to the City, improving its image, improving infrastructure, and helping improve the lives of all residents.

TEXAS

Adam Bazaldua
Dallas City Council, District 7

Adam Bazaldua was elected June 2019 as the youngest person to ever serve on the Dallas City Council. For the past two years, he has been delivering for the residents of District 7, maintaining his commitment to transparency and accountability.

Adam is focused on improving neighborhood safety, solving the City’s growing homeless population and attracting local businesses that better serve each neighborhood’s needs. He is a dedicated advocate for economic growth that benefits the existing residents of the community.

Jalen McKee-Rodriguez
San Antonio City Council, District 2

Jalen is an educator who has committed himself to serving and empowering his community through representative policy-making. As the son of two veterans, and the oldest of three, he was raised to value service to others, empathy, and integrity. Two years after graduating from The University of Texas at San Antonio with a BA in Communication, Jalen decided to continue living by the principles his family instilled in him by volunteering full-time as an AmeriCorps member with City Year, and then began his career as a high school math teacher on the eastside of San Antonio. Through working closely with students and families in District 2, Jalen saw how heavily the environment could impact a child’s future — how their housing, access to transportation, and access to recreational activities played a huge role in these critical years of their lives.

Now, in his fourth year in the classroom, he’s on the northeast side, where he has witnessed first-hand the stark inequities in education, economic opportunity, and public health that his community faces, further perpetuated by economic segregation. These observations are what inspired Jalen to run, and to make a difference for his students and their families outside of the classroom. Jalen believes working class families deserve working class representation and has said “No” to contributions from developers and corporate PACs.

VIRGINIA

Alyia Gaskins
Alexandria City Council

Alyia Gaskins is a tenacious fighter for families, communities, and equity. She is running for Alexandria City Council. As an experienced public health strategist and city planner, Alyia has worked on hunger policy at D.C. Hunger Solutions, the health team at the National League of Cities, and managed an affordable housing investment program at the Center for Community Investment. She is currently a Senior Program Officer at a national philanthropic organization and helps communities create places that promote the physical, social, and economic health of people. She intends to listen, ensure equality and justice are promoted through our public leadership, and serve in a way that meets the needs of all people. Alyia lives in Alexandria City, with her newly born son Zeke, and her husband Greg.

Elizabeth Bennett-Parker
Virginia State House, District 45

Elizabeth is the Vice-Mayor of Alexandria, and the youngest woman elected to City Council in Alexandria’s history. Born in Alexandria to two Naval officers, Elizabeth is dedicated to serving her community. She is one of the co-leaders of Together We Bake, a nonprofit that provides job training and personal development programs for underserved women. She is the founder of Fruitcycle, a social enterprise fighting food waste and hunger.

Elizabeth currently serves as the Chair of the Operations Board of the Virginia Railway Express, the 13th largest commuter rail system in the country, and is a member of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. She has served on the Community Criminal Justice Board, the Commission on Employment, and the United Way Regional Council. She was a Fulbright Fellow, is a graduate of Emerge Virginia, and was selected as one of Alexandria’s 40 under 40 in 2017. She and her husband, Stephen, live with their rescue cat, Julep and rescue dog, Nori.

Elizabeth is running to bring her experience as a nonprofit leader, small business creator, and local government official to the House of Delegates. In Richmond, she will work to expand access to child care, ensure equitable education opportunities, fight climate change, and build an economy that works for all of our residents.

WASHINGTON

Zack Zappone
Spokane City Council, District 3, Position 2

Zack was born and raised in Spokane to a public-service family that has served Eastern Washington for generations as wheat farmers, public school teachers, secretaries, bus drivers. In spite of his humble background as a first-generation college student, Zack’s passion and persistence drove him to attend Georgetown University, where he worked nights and weekends at McDonald’s to support himself. Zack is a Fulbright Scholar, and received a full scholarship to obtain his Master’s in Public Affairs at Princeton University.

Despite his credentials, Zack never forgot his working class background. As a teacher, Zack advocated for changes to help students ignored by the public school system, raising over $20,000 annually to support three civic education clubs: mock trial, youth legislature, and DC educational trip. He has worked and fought to expand access to higher education, affordable health care, and safe routes to school. Following his family’s tradition, Zack is proud to use his skills and experiences to serve Spokane. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Zack has volunteered to organize delivery of over 100,000 meals to families in need.

He is now a program manager promoting health equity, working on school-based telehealth, rural broadband, COVID vaccine outreach and coordinated care. He is running for Spokane City Council to continue fighting to ensure that everyone has a fair shot. Although Zack came up short in his race for the 2020 Washington State House race, he ran the closest race in Eastern Washington

WISCONSIN

Ayomi Obuseh
Madison City Council, District 8

Ayomi is running for District 8 Alder in Madison, WI. She started as a youth organizer in Madison West High School to demand for a more inclusive environment for students and staff of color in the Madison Metropolitan School District. She has continued her social justice work to advocate for policies that prioritize youth and families. As the co-founder and Executive Director for Impact Demand, she helped organize the Madison 4 Black Lives Movement and has worked to increase community control. She has interned with Madison City Council and the WIsconsin State Capitol as well as worked on a Congressional Campaign. She has been invited as a speaker by various nonprofits, was a fellow for the Movement for Black Lives, and has worked with local nonprofits to engage the community in local activism. Ayomi is committed to challenging the narrative of justice and uses her voice to amplify those who are often silenced.

Her campaign platform is cognizant that many of the issues faced by the community, such as Madison’s housing and sustainability crisis, have been issues systematically enabled by legislation. Hence, she has a variety of innovative solutions and partnerships planned to push through equitable policies and community projects; details can be found at ayomi4alder.vote. As the District 8 Alder, she will be able to utilize her position to develop partnerships among the city, local nonprofits, UW-Madison, and the community to create a sustainable Madison in which even marginalized communities can thrive.

David Hoffert
Madison City Council, District 13

David Hoffert was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, which instilled in him the strong progressive values that motivate him to serve in Madison’s local government today. He left his hometown to earn a Master of Public Policy degree from Stanford University, and then returned and served as president of two different neighborhood associations in Madison for two years each.

As an adult, David has had to take off the rose-colored glasses and recognize that Madison is much better at talking about progressive priorities than actually living them. Like so many other places, Madison is all for progressive policies until they actually threaten to take something away from those who have privilege and are doing just fine in the status quo. As a cisgender, straight, white man living in an upper-middle class neighborhood, David recognizes that the movement for real progressive change isn’t just the responsibility of people of color or with lower incomes. Madison needs leaders who come from positions of privilege to also serve the movement, and be willing to stand firm for equity and justice even in the face of resistance from those who aren’t used to being asked to make sacrifices.

David’s priorities are racial justice (defunding the police, making city government more accessible, and desegregating the city), climate change (investing in public transportation, expanding electric car charging infrastructure, and promoting green energy generation), and housing affordability (eliminating single-family zoning and prioritizing affordable housing). He lives near downtown Madison with his wife and son.

Maia Pearson
Madison Board of Education, Seat 1

Maia Pearson, 33, has been a grass-roots activist since her teens, following in the footsteps of her grandmother who fought inequities since the time she arrived in Madison, Wisconsin. Madison enjoys its long-time reputation for being progressive — but only recently has begun to acknowledge the inequities that earned the city ranking as the worst place in the U.S. to raise a Black child. A graduate of the public schools, Maia graduated with a BA in International Relations, focusing on Culture in the Age of Globalization while raising three wonderful children as a single parent. Over the past 4 years, Maia was foundational in leading a fight for food access for her community; broke ground in her roles on city planning committees for her area of the city; has been appointed to the executive committee of the hard fought, newly established Civilian Oversight Board for the Police; run a small business; and left her work at a state agency to become the Wisconsin Director for a national, student-led nonprofit focused on college un-affordability.

In 2021, Maia is running unopposed for a seat on the Madison Board of Education on a platform that focuses on Student Excellence, Teacher Success, and Community Collaborations. She feels hopeful she will be joining a Board and a new Superintendent at a time when there is a focus on turning things around. It won’t be easy, but she looks forward to building stronger schools through shared commitment, and building trust with the community at the grass-roots.

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