RFS 2020 Election Watch: August 11 Primaries

Run for Something
9 min readAug 10, 2020

With less than 100 days until November, we still have dozens of primary elections left across the country. Last week, Run for Something saw momentous wins in Kansas, Michigan, and Arizona — this week we’re looking for a repeat in Connecticut, Georgia, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

The thirteen candidates running today are some of the most impressive leaders we’ve seen to date. In addition to their work as elected hopefuls, each candidate has created new spaces and new opportunities for diverse voices in their hometowns.

  1. Francesca Hong, a restaurant owner and Wisconsin Assembly candidate, founded the Culinary Ladies Collective, a network that provides mentorship, volunteer outreach, education, fundraising and advocacy under an intersectional lens.
  2. Justin Farmer has been fighting for the rights of people with disabilities since he was 17 years old and has helped improve access to public transportation and job opportunities in Connecticut.
  3. Taylor Small used her voice to advocate for Vermont’s LGBTQ+ youth, serving as Director of the Health & Wellness program at Pride Center of Vermont.

These candidates are building progressive power where it counts and opening up doors for thousands of their constituents. We are so proud to stand with them. To learn more about today’s lucky 13, scroll below and get to know their work.

And as always: If you plan to show up at the polls, please make sure you do so safely.



Justin Farmer
Connecticut State Senate, District 17

Justin Farmer is a 25-year-old activist elected official. He is currently serving as Hamden Legislative Councilman, District 5 and is now running for Connecticut State Senate. Justin’s experience as a seasoned community organizer has enabled him to build some of the strongest grassroots campaigns in state history.

For Justin, the issues he champions are personal. Justin was diagnosed with Tourette’s at age 17, after years of fighting and advocating for himself in a system that can often leave our students most in need without critical help or resources. Justin quickly realized that it wasn’t enough to advocate only for himself. The issues he faced are systemic and until these systems are changed, our students and communities will continue to suffer the generational consequences. Through the years, Justin found that these issues did not stop with our system of education, but rather extended to public transportation, healthcare, the job market, and more. Justin is not just a champion on these issues — he is engaged in the solutions on a personal level.

That’s why our campaign is focused on communities and the issues we face collectively. This isn’t about electing one candidate — it’s about building a movement that puts Connecticut’s working class first. We know that the people closest to the problem are closest to the solution, and we look forward to working with you to build a better Connecticut.


Maryam Ahmad
DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, Super District 6

Maryam Ahmad is running for office because she genuinely cares about her home, DeKalb County, where she was born/raised and has been a community activist since a young age. She went to DeKalb public schools and graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology and Human Biology, followed by a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology from Georgia State University. Maryam is a founding member and current board member of House of Globalization, which focuses on the issues of domestic violence and human trafficking. She has supported and led efforts against discriminatory policies and actions. Maryam also has supported countless organizations fighting for the rights of people, such as assisting ICE detainees with legal and other services. She has worked at the DeKalb County Board of Health in refugee clinics and developed plans toward health equity. Maryam is committed to ensure that ALL people and communities are heard and that we work towards health equity of the county. She has a clear understanding that she is a representative of the people and that is who she works for.

Her goal is to have real community inclusion and collaboration by directly canvasing our neighborhoods on affordability and accessibility of community health determinants such as transportation, housing, education, fresh food, greenspace, mental/physical healthcare, clean water, and safety. Representative data creates focus on top priorities for equity and should influence allocation of resources. It also sets up more accountability and transparency for elected officials. In addition, it maintains respect of the very diverse communities throughout DeKalb County. Maryam will help bridge the gap between government and the people they serve.

Nicole Love Hendrickson
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, Chair

Nicole is running for Gwinnett County Commission Chair because public service has always been her passion. She dedicated her entire career as a social worker serving people, empowering communities, and giving a voice to those who have been historically underrepresented in the decision-making arena.

As the county’s founding director of the community outreach program, Nicole experienced first-hand the role citizens can play in promoting good governance. She wants to continue building on that success while addressing the challenges that lie ahead. She has a vision for our future and the demonstrated leadership to move us forward.

Nicole knows that Gwinnett County represents the future of our nation, where diversity and entrepreneurship shine. Nicole knows we need leaders who can think not just about tomorrow but years down the road to envision a healthy, sustainable, and thriving place where everyone is welcome.

Derrick J. Wilson
Gwinnett County District 3 Commissioner

Derrick J. Wilson is a serial entrepreneur and the majority owner of a tax preparation company. Working as a contracted insurance adjuster brought Derrick to Georgia, where he fell in love with Gwinnett County.

Derrick’s dedication to family and community caused him to seek ways to be more involved. He joined Gwinnett County’s chapter of NAACP, which led him to become more politically focused. He later joined Gwinnett County Young Democrats and the Gwinnett County Democratic Party. Now, Derrick is fighting for diverse representation, economic development, and more, as a candidate for Gwinnett County Commissioner, District 3.


Cedrick R. Frazier
Minnesota State House, District 45A

Cedrick is running for Minnesota State House because he believes that our government has a role to play in removing inequities and making sure that every person can reach their full potential.

Cedrick believes that access to affordable stable housing, quality healthcare, excellent public education and livable wage jobs, and the dismantling of mass incarceration are necessary to ensure that everyone has a shot at a dignified life.

Hoang Murphy
Minnesota State House, District 67A

Hoang Murphy is an educator and youth advocate running for Minnesota State House of Representatives — District 67A.

The child of Vietnamese refugees and a former foster care recipient, he’s committed to having all voices at the policymaking table. Hoang was raised in St. Paul’s Eastside and Greater Minnesota, and is Founder/Executive Director of Foster Advocates. He taught high school English and coached debate, and served in the Obama Administration at the Department of Education.

A first-generation college graduate, Hoang earned a B.A. in Policy Studies from Syracuse University and an M.S., Ed. from the Johns Hopkins University.


Scott Pavek
Vermont House, Chittenden 6–5 District

Scott is graduate student and higher education professional with extensive experience working in student enrichment across all grade levels. As a recovery advocate, Scott leverages his experience living in Vermont’s overdose epidemic to champion justice and public health reform.

Scott’s priorities include addressing the climate crisis, ending persistent poverty, and increasing equity across the state’s education systems. Scott believes that marginalized and vulnerable Vermonters have been underrepresented in the legislature for too long. He is running to serve on behalf of Chittenden 6–5 in the State House to provide authentic, transparent, and accessible representation for all.

Taylor Small
Vermont House, Chittenden 6–7

Taylor is excited to be a candidate for the Vermont House of Representatives for the Chittenden 6–7 district. She currently serves as the Director of the Health & Wellness program at Pride Center of Vermont, a statewide non-profit organization serving the needs of LGBTQ+ Vermonters. Prior to her role at Pride Center of Vermont, she worked in mental health services at Howard Center and Northwestern Counseling and Support Services, and supported homeless and runaway youth at Spectrum Youth and Family Services. She has also served on the Board of Directors for Outright Vermont, a statewide non-profit that works to build safe, healthy, and supportive environments for LGBTQ+ youth and their families. She has been a strong advocate for marginalized Vermonters in both her professional and personal lives, and is motivated to now bring this work into a legislative arena where the change affected can be even more impactful. She knows and understands that by creating systems to support the communities among us who face the greatest obstacles and needs, we will find ourselves truly uplifting all Vermonters.


Francesca Hong
Wisconsin Assembly, District 76

Francesca is a daughter of immigrants, a mother, and a small-business owner. Her career, which stems from working as a server and dishwasher to executive chef and restaurant owner has made her an advocate and mentor of female and nonbinary culinary professionals. She is a proven leader who’s made a difference in her community through empowering others. Her running for office was a call to action as she struggled alongside her community and the pandemic unleashed fear and injustices in her city, but also opportunity to make sure things don’t go back to the way they were. She understands how economic inequities and systemic racism has led to many of the problems facing too many Wisconsinites today. As a restaurant owner directly affected by COVID-19, she will fight for policies to promote safe, worker empowered economic recovery and address the failing economic structures exposed by the pandemic. She will also advocate for racial equity and criminal justice reform, well-funded public education, affordable housing, climate justice accessible healthcare, and stronger labor rights.

Kristina Shelton
Wisconsin Assembly, District 90

Kristina began her career as a teacher, with extensive experience in health and physical education at both the K-12 and higher education levels. With a Master’s degree in Health Promotion Management, Kristina shifted her professional work toward a focus in non-profit leadership. Today, she is putting her experience and passion to work serving the diverse needs of the community in her role as vice president of the Green Bay School Board.

Kristina’s community contributions are wide-ranging. She served as Northeast Regional Coordinator for Women’s March Wisconsin, helping to organize a major event in Green Bay and rally in January 2018 attended by more than 400 people. Kristina also serves as a community organizer for Black Lives United. Kristina is running to restore integrity and representation to the 90th Assembly District. The issues such as the calculated defunding of public education, climate change denial, rising health care costs, and diminished workers’ rights require strong leadership and ethical representation.

Nada Elmikashfi
Wisconsin State Senate, District 26

Nada is a longtime resident of Madison, WI, whose candidacy is about progressive change that picks up every member of the working-class and brings their interests to the forefront of Wisconsin’s legislative agenda. As an immigrant, a black Muslim womxn, and a young person, Nada knows first-hand the necessity of true social, political, and economic reform.

Her mission is to reprioritize the issues that affect District 26, particularly the affordable housing crisis, environmental justice, and bridging the educational achievement gaps that have left Wisconsin’s children trailing behind the rest of the nation.

Heather Driscoll
Wisconsin State Assembly, District 76

Heather is running for State Assembly to take on those who are currently doing so much harm to people across Wisconsin. She will use her position in a safe progressive seat to help flip seats to blue in other parts of the state and to give some balance to the legislature.

Heather has been a leader in her community, working in the Capitol, with the school board, with her neighborhood association, with the city council, and with advocacy groups on environmental, equity, and gun violence prevention issues. As a local Legislative Lead for Moms Demand Action she has fought against bad gun legislation in Wisconsin and advocated tirelessly for common-sense gun laws that, if enacted, would save lives. Heather has also used her own personal story to advocate for access to healthcare and for survivors of sexual assault. She lives in Madison, WI with her husband and two children.

Paul McCreary
Wisconsin State Assembly, District 82

Paul McCreary is a small business owner in Franklin, WI. He has spent most of his career in the healthcare industry, starting off as an EMT, then working as a medical device engineer, and currently consulting for medical device companies. Paul also co-owns and operates a liqueur company.

Paul is running for Wisconsin Assembly to end gerrymandering, make healthcare more affordable, and support local businesses. Paul has a BS in Mechanical Engineering and completed his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.



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