The Candidates That Really Matter: Meet our February 2020 Endorsees!
Last week, all eyes were on the presidency — surprise, surprise — but it’s time to get back to business. Right now, we have the chance to build the Democratic party from the ground up, focusing on races that will define our country for the next generation.
That’s why we’re proud to introduce our 2020 February endorsement class! From rural districts to sprawling cities, each of these candidates is ready to change the face of local politics, bringing new ideas and new voices to the table.
Of our 43 endorsees we have:
- Three students fighting to ensure Millennial and gen-z issues (hello student loans) are on the table,
- Two attorneys running for judicial seats in an effort to bring more diverse representation to the bench,
- Five climate activists looking to center environmental issues at the local level,
- Six queer candidates who have made the protection of LGBTQ+ youth a top priority
Our investment in state and local seats help bolster the Democratic party, increase voter turnout, and — most importantly — instill public trust in the democratic process. And while our presidential nominees continue to argue back and forth about who really won the Iowa Caucus, 43 local candidates are already improving their communities at the grassroots level.
We’re investing our energy where it really matters. Join us and help support our work by donating today.
* denotes a re-endorsement — click here to learn more about our re-endorsement policy
Jefferson County (AL) District Court Judge, Place 7
Terrika Shaw is a civil law attorney who fights for the rights of Alabamians across the state. She is currently the Supervising Attorney in the Elder Law Clinic at the University of Alabama School of Law. In the Elder Law Clinic, she and her students represent individuals over the age of 60 in civil legal matters in West Alabama. Ms. Shaw is a former Legal Services Attorney where she represented clients in the Black Belt of Alabama, Birmingham, and the surrounding counties. Her primary practice is in civil litigation. She is currently a Candidate for District Court Judge in Jefferson County.
Maricopa County Attorney
Julie Gunnigle was born and raised in Maricopa County and currently lives a mile from the school that she attended growing up. She is running for Maricopa County Attorney because she believes the people of Maricopa County deserve a criminal justice system that is smart, fair and tough. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School, cum laude. After law school, Julie went on to serve as Assistant State’s Attorney in Cook County, Illinois where she prosecuted financial crime and public corruption.
Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board
Matthew Taylor is a student at Pima College. He was born and raised in the beautiful city of Tucson, Arizona. He sits on the board of directors for the local nonprofit “Tucson Pride”.
Matthew attended the Sunnyside schools his entire life. However on the first day of his junior year in high school, he was placed in the Arizona foster care system and that was the moment in which he decided that public service was where his heart lies. Matthew spent most of his time in the system on the run and in hiding, and due to a lack of resources and his fear of being picked up by DCS, he dropped out of high school and earned his GED as an alternative. Since then, 20 year old Matthew has begun his candidacy for a seat on the Sunnyside School Board.
Tucson Unified School District Governing Board
Dr. Ravi is running for the TUSD School Board in Tucson, AZ. He is a proud TUSD parent, father of three, and family physician. His husband, Tim, is an educator and currently is a high school principal.
Dr. Ravi has successfully fought for his patients to protect their access to health care, clean air, reproductive choice, and safety for LGBTQ teens. He is ready to fight for his community as a school board member of Arizona’s second largest school district — with over 45,000 students — to ensure that all families have the educational opportunities they need to succeed.
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, District 3
Whitney is running for Maricopa County Board of Supervisor, District 3 to ensure that everyone, regardless of zip could or circumstance, can thrive. As a natural born advocate for social justice and equity, Whitney remains steadfast in building a stronger and more inclusive Arizona.
Since law school, Whitney has advocated for sustainable policy solutions on behalf domestic and sexual violence survivors and their families. She has a proven record working with advocates to close systematic gaps to end cycles of violence and poverty while serving on the Impact of Domestic Violence and the Courts Committee for the state of Arizona. Whitney also serves on the Phoenix Human Relations Commission to assist in implementing the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.
Whitney is passionate about elevating the voices that are often forgotten and building a county government that works for everyone. As the County Supervisor for District 3, she will ensure that the next 4 years of regional leadership includes a vision that put the people first.
California State Assembly, District 64
Fatima Iqbal-Zubair is a public school teacher from Watts, community advocate, immigrant, mother, wife and Carson resident. She serves on the Watts Rising Leadership Council, an environmental collaborative working to improve air quality, create sustainable, affordable housing, and bring good green jobs to Watts. Her legislative agenda includes clean air, clean water & clean food, high quality public education, tuition free college, healthcare and guaranteed housing for all as human rights for all. She is endorsed by Sunrise Movement-LA, Our Revolution-LA, Progressive Democratic Club, California Progressive Alliance, Evolve CA, Carson Alliance for Truth and more.
Sacramento City Council, District 4
Sacramento is at a crossroads. We are experiencing unprecedented housing prices and an unacceptable number of our neighbors are homeless. Income inequality has reached the highest level we’ve ever seen, and our City Council is giving away incentives to millionaire developers while our communities lack safe crosswalks and streetlights. We also have opportunities to lead on climate and help our small businesses thrive, and get more people engaged in local policies and budgets. I’m running because I think this is the right time for Sacramento to show that it is possible to preserve our communities while creating opportunities for everyone to thrive.
Kenneth “Kenny” Rotter
Pasadena City College Board of Trustees, Area 2
Kenny Rotter is running for Pasadena City College Board of Trustees. As Trustee, Kenny will fight to increase access to education, increase mental health resources, and increase opportunities for students, faculty, and staff.
Kenny will help lower the costs of attending PCC. Kenny will fight to increase the number of mental health counselors (currently there are only seven). 10% of PCC students have struggled with homelessness. Kenny wants to make sure we increase permanent supportive housing so students can focus on becoming the next generation of leaders.
Learn more at KennyForPCC.com, follow on Facebook @KennyForPCC, using #KennyForPCC and #YesWeKenny.
Mayor of City of Monrovia
Melissa Taylor is running for Mayor of Monrovia. Melissa has been called to civil service to ensure that every single resident’s needs are taken into consideration. She wants to be an advocate for everyone. She recently helped establish and lead the San Gabriel Valley California chapter of Moms Demand Action. Her background covers a wide range of policy issues from gun violence prevention, water and sustainability, and public issues related to water and the environment. She wants to build a sustainable and livable future, founded on principles of equity, justice, and opportunity.
Aliso Viejo City Council
Richard is a husband, accountant, and small business owner. He is committed to providing forward thinking policy that ensures the safety, long-term financial stability, and economic growth for the residents of Aliso Viejo. Aliso Viejo is a beautiful city, but when businesses leave, and progress is stagnant residents look for elected officials to emerge with solutions. Richard is answering that call to serve and solve problems. He mentor’s youth, volunteers in our schools, serves on multiple committees, and is the President of the Friends of the Library.
Colorado House of Representatives, District 40
John has dedicated most of his life to public service as a volunteer, community activist, working in applied policy analysis and advocacy, and in the classroom as an instructor of future public servants. A professor at the University of Colorado Denver, John resides in Aurora — Colorado’s most diverse city — and as a member of the Colorado House of Representatives he hopes to address serious inequities in housing, health care, student debt, and civil rights and social equity, among many other issues facing Coloradans today.
Delaware House of Representatives, District 26
Madinah Wilson-Anton is a life-long Delaware resident and policy analyst who is running for state representative. She is running because the system is broken and we need to fix it. When she worked as a legislative aide in Delaware’s state legislature, Madinah saw how many of Delaware’s problems were going completely unaddressed. As a young, black woman in rapidly diversifying district, Madinah believes that she has the knowledge and will to help make the changes needed while truly representing her community. If elected, she would also be the first practicing Muslim elected to Delaware’s state legislature.
Miami-Dade County School Board, District 9
Luisa is running for Miami Dade School Board because every student must have the opportunities to build a successful life, no matter where they are born or which zip code they live in.
Illinois State House of Representatives, District 29
A lifelong resident of Chicago’s Southland, DeAndre Tillman is an accomplished attorney and public official with a reputation for being an advocate for disadvantaged kids, families, and seniors. Tillman is a progressive candidate who will bring innovative ideas to the 29th District of Illinois. Tillman will use his background in law and government to create policies that are consistent with the needs and interest of the people of Illinois. Tillman currently serves on the City Council of Calumet City, Illinois and is seeking higher office to better advocate for more investments into the most disenfranchised communities of the District.
Champaign County Board, District 6
DeShawn is a husband, father, entrepreneur, and leader within the financial industry. He’s an assistant vice president and branch manager as well as an active member of the community. DeShawn is a progressive candidate running for County Board, District 6, in Champaign, IL. As a county board member, he will push for restorative justice programs that will keep our county jails from filling up with individuals who look like him. He is adamant about the development of individuals who find themselves fighting against the grain.
Illinois State Senate, District 13
Ken Thomas is a 28-year-old husband and University of Chicago trained lawyer running for the Illinois State Senate in District 13. He is passionate about bringing more affordable housing, jobs and economic development to his community. In his law practice, Ken successfully represented dozens of low-income families in eviction court for free. Additionally, Ken has represented victims of domestic violence in their asylum proceedings and stepped up to fight Trump’s travel ban by providing legal assistance to families of potential detainees at O’Hare International Airport. Ken will be a strong, independent and progressive voice in the Illinois State Senate.
Illinois House of Representatives, District 37
Michelle Fadeley is a dedicated community advocate with over a decade of experience organizing for change. She is the former president of Illinois NOW, and has been involved in dozens of successful state and local legislative initiatives. Michelle also co-founded ERA Illinois in 2016 and helped lead Illinois to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment in 2018.
Michelle believes public elected office needs to be about serving the people, not private or corporate interests. Her decade-plus experience in community advocacy proves her commitment to elevating the lives of the people in her community, with no one left out.
Illinois State Senate, District 13
State Senator Robert Peters has a deep passion for public service cultivated by numerous events throughout his life that left a profound impact on him and the people he cares about.
He was born in 1985 deaf and with a massive speech impediment. His biological mother was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and his adopted mother and father were a social worker and a civil rights lawyer, respectively. He is a proud South Sider and an even prouder Chicagoan.
Peters’ struggles with health and environment in early childhood led to difficulties, but he credits teachers and administrators at his public school for checking in on him and guiding him. He gained full hearing ability by the time he was 8 and full speech capability by the time he was 12. As a political organizer, Peters successfully fought to require Cook County judges to set affordable bail amounts for all defendants, leading to a substantial reduction in the Cook County Jail population since it took effect in July 2017.
As a state senator, Peters plans to continue advocating for the people in his community and district to ensure they get the investment they need. He is also committed to passing a balanced budget, continuing his focus on criminal justice reform, creating clean energy jobs and fighting for quality public education. He is passionate about his work and his community and intends to be the best public servant he can be.
Massachusetts State Senate, Norfolk, Bristol, and Plymouth District
Jarred had been dissatisfied for a long time with what has, or hasn’t, been happening in this district. Our environment is a mess & in need of champions. Housing is extremely expensive & not realistically available to many. Our MBTA/commuter rail trains are literally on fire on a regular basis. And no one seemed to care.
Jarred is running to be the one who cares. He grew up in Mass, attended all public schools, & went to UMass Amherst for his degree. He worked at the State Senate for years as an aid. Jarred lives with his wife, Lynne, in Stoughton with two shelter cats who run their house.
Massachusetts State House of Representative, Suffolk 17
Jordan Meehan is an activist, a lawyer, and a renter. He’s running for State Representative in Massachusetts to fight for housing justice, to fix our public transit system, and for a Green New Deal for Massachusetts. Jordan works for the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, where he advocates for policy and legislative solutions to help homeless youth, reform our juvenile justice system, and build safe and supportive school environments for LGBTQ youth. Jordan is the former Chair of the Massachusetts Sierra Club’s Political Committee and is a member of 350 Mass for a Better Future and Boston DSA.
Minnesota House of Representatives, District 48B
Carlie is running for re-election to the Minnesota House to continue building a Minnesota that works better for everyone, highlighting early care and learning, gun violence prevention, and access to high quality, affordable healthcare. She currently serves on the E-12 Education Finance and Commerce Committees and as Vice-Chair of the Early Childhood committee. Carlie is raising three young children and a labradoodle with her husband, Rory, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. As her community continues to grow and evolve, Carlie is focused on the future of Eden Prairie and the great state of Minnesota.
Minnesota House of Representatives, District 54B
As a military spouse, mother, and Chair of the Hastings School Board, Kelsey advocates for the people in her community and represents their voices at the decision-making table. She also serves on the Steering Committee of a community-wide equity and inclusion initiative. Kelsey is confident, well-organized, knowledgeable, and invested in our future. Through her many community roles, Kelsey has promoted equity, fiscal responsibility, and environmentally friendly practices. Using her Masters Degrees in Statistics and Public Policy, Kelsey will continue to be a strong and honest voice for these issues when she represents her community as their State Representative.
Minnesota State House of Representatives, District 66A
Tanner is a high school speech and debate coach and housing advocate who is looking to ensure that the Minnesota House has at least one openly LGBTQ+ representative next year.
His campaign is focused on bringing disadvantaged groups to the forefront, and he has been on the ground connecting with residents since August. As a member of the house, he will prioritize passing a ban on conversion therapy on day one.
Minnesota House of Representatives, District 63B
Tyler Moroles is running in the district he was born and raised in, district 63B. Tyler’s lived experience of losing his father to opioid addiction, being raised by his single mother and his immigrant roots of his grandparents working as migrant workers from Mexico have shaped his deep commitment to social justice. He is the program manager of the community development block grant program in Hennepin County and has worked in affordable housing for 5 years. He is running to elevate the conversation on racial equity while also bringing his expertise in affordable housing.
Nevada State Assembly, District 15
Howard Watts is a Las Vegas native and UNLV graduate. For 6 years he worked as a community organizer to advance social, economic, and environmental justice issues. After winning election to the Nevada Assembly in 2018, Howard introduced and passed laws to improve water conservation, support electric vehicles, and improve Native American access to the ballot box. For his work in the community, Howard was recognized as a “Local Hero” by CityLife Magazine, “Activist of the Year” by Vegas Seven, and received the 2012 Mario Savio Young Activist Award.
Hudson Board of Selectmen
Caitlin Chiquelin is running for Select Board and is eager to serve the Hudson community. After finishing her Bachelor’s degree at Brandeis University and her Master’s degree at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Caitlin returned to Hudson to work as a sustainability consultant, where she helps companies and governments assess their environmental impacts. She is ready to lead Hudson into a more environmentally and fiscally sustainable future. As Selectwoman, she hopes to increase participation in and access of town governance. She is currently serving on the Library Board of Trustees and the Hudson Sustainability Committee.
New Hampshire House of Representatives, Hillsborough 20
Nicole is a social worker and substance use disorder clinician running for New Hampshire State Representative for Hillsborough County District 20 — Town of Litchfield. She is dedicated to furthering progressive values and policies that recognize and champion the inherent dignity and worth of all people. Nicole utilizes her personal and professional experiences to connect those in positions of power and authority to the truth of the issues people who use drugs and/or have mental health conditions face while living in the Granite State. In addition, Nicole has used her experiences with the health care system as a person with a disability (a chronic and incurable illness affecting mobility and causing continuous pain) to highlight the need for reform and regulation, including single-payer health care.
New York State Assembly, District 135
Jen Lunsford is a lawyer, a mom, and a community volunteer who has dedicated the past decade to fighting for the people of Western New York. As a working mom, a homeowner and a lawyer with small business experience, Jen understands the everyday struggles of families in the 135th. Jen wants to bring her skills, experience and knowledge to Albany’s majority to make sure that the 135th District gets everything they deserve: fully funded schools; quality, affordable childcare and a healthcare system focused on patients and outcomes, not dollars and cents.
New York State Assembly, District 131
After 20 years of the same representative, Matt is running to bring a new generation of representation to Albany. He will address the issues that face everyday New Yorkers such as climate change and healthcare, head on with fresh and bold ideas. As a former Intelligence Analyst in the NY Army National Guard, Matt has the necessary experience to represent NY-131. Matt, if victorious, will be the first Democrat in over a decade and the first openly gay person to hold this seat.
New York State Senate, District 1
Skyler is a 19 year old progressive running for the New York State Senate. Skyler, an activist, will bring serious reform to Albany. He is a supporter of the New York Health Act, which will establish single-payer healthcare in New York State. He has release comprehensive plans on a wide spectrum of issues to ensure New York’s government is built for the people. If he’s elected, he will be a fierce advocate for the residents of New York. Skyler is looking forward to building a state designed for everyone, from all social and financial backgrounds.
New York State Assembly, District 2
Will is a dedicated and loving father of two young boys. He is a champion of progressive values and is an advocate for the New York Health Act and Universal Pre-K. He understands the struggles a young family faces in New York and will fight tirelessly for them! He is also a strong proponent of Criminal Justice reform and wants all residents of NY to receive equal treatment under the law.
North Carolina State House of Representatives, District 33
Antoine Marshall is a dedicated community servant. A Raleigh native after graduating from Wake Forest School of Law Antoine returned home to serve his community as a Legal Aid attorney. Having worked in two Congressional offices and the North and South Carolina State legislature, Antoine seeks to blend his knowledge of policy and political processes with experience of working with marginalized communities to make structural change.
North Carolina State Senate, District 38
The fight for children and families is personal for Mujtaba. Over the years, Mujtaba has been a tireless advocate for children and families, acquiring an intimate understanding of the challenges that everyday families encounter through his work as a former staff attorney and child advocate at the Council for Children’s Rights, and a fighter for the underprivileged as an Assistant Public Defender in Charlotte. As a public interest attorney and State Senator, Mujtaba continues to fight for our public schools, families, communities, and those being left behind every day in North Carolina.
North Carolina State Senate, District 38
Shane McCarthy is an Asheville Native and a first-generation college graduate. He holds a degree in Civil Engineering from NC State University, works in construction management, and lives in the East End neighborhood with his wife Emily. Shane is also a life-long environmental advocate and served as the secretary of the East End/Valley Street Neighborhood Association. Shane is running for Asheville City Council to stop our residents from being priced out of the city, protect our environment, shift new development away from tourism, and make our transportation system safer.
Ohio State Senate, District 2
Reem is running for Ohio State Senate because she wants to bring justice to Ohioans. As a civil rights attorney, she has seen how Republican policies have held back Ohio’s working families. As an Ohio State Senator, Reem will use her extensive legal experience to bring housing rights to working families and a Constitutional funding formula to our public schools, so that every Ohio family has access to economic justice.
Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, District 168
Brittany is running for the Pennsylvania State House (168th District). After receiving her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, Brittany worked in federal and local government. She is currently the Director at an economic consulting firm and specializes in community and economic development. Brittany will advocate for progressive legislation and work tirelessly to: 1) balance development with open space, 2) invest in early education, and 3) increase government transparency. Brittany is a proud mom of two and a military spouse, she will fight to make sure that ALL our children, businesses, and families have the opportunity to thrive.
Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, District 165
Jennifer O’Mara believes there is more that unites us than divides us, and is committed to being part of a government that works to serve the people. As a member in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, she is committed to improving public education for our children, ensuring access to affordable healthcare, and expanding job opportunities at all skill levels. Her dedication to public service is deeply rooted in her own experience, and her ability to deliver practical solutions has been shaped by her challenging personal journey. Jennifer is working hard to ensure everyone has an opportunity to succeed.
Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, District 36
Jessica Benham is running as a Democrat for state representative in PA House District 36 because she wants to protect workers’ rights, fight for investments in infrastructure and education, and ensure that everyone has access to healthcare. Jessica is the Director of Development for the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy (PCAA), a grassroots self-advocacy project run by Autistic people for Autistic people. As a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, Jessica was involved in the efforts to organize a union of graduate workers. She has served on numerous boards and committees in HD 36.
Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, District 181
Malcolm Kenyatta was elected to serve as state representative for the 181st Legislative District, Philadelphia County, on November 6, 2018. He is a product of Philadelphia public schools, a graduate of Temple University, and Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government.
He currently serves as Vice Chair of the Philadelphia Delegation and as a member of the Governor’s Taskforce on Suicide Prevention as well as a host of committee leadership positions. As the first openly LGBT person of color and one of the youngest members elected to the PA General Assembly, he is deeply committed to creating an equitable and inclusive society. As a legislator he has championed proposals to address generational poverty, raise the minimum wage and protect workers rights, increase access to mental healthcare, common sense measures to address gun violence, and protecting our digital infrastructure.
In 2016, he was elected as Delegate to the Democratic Convention (PA 2nd), garnering the second highest vote total of any delegate in the Commonwealth. He has also appeared on local and national media outlets to discuss systemic poverty, affordable education and childcare, and how to make government more accountable to citizens. His election was turned in an award winning short documentary, ‘Going Forward’ produced by Seven Knot Productions which premiered on ‘The Atlantic Magazine Selects’ in 2018.
Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, District 21
As she represents the 21st Legislative District, Sara Innamorato is guided by a mission: leveling the playing field to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have equal access to opportunities to lead a life with dignity. To Innamorato, that means putting people first — over corporate profits and greedy individuals — which is why she advocates for increased transparency and reform in Harrisburg. In addition, Innamorato champions improved and expanded Medicare-for-all, a fair tax system, economic dignity through fair pay and a union, affordable housing, clean air and water, and the best possible schools for our children.
Texas State House of Representatives, District 28
A native Texan, Dr. Eliz Markowitz is running to be the next State Representative of Texas House District 28. Eliz received her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Trinity University, master’s degrees in both Management and Healthcare Informatics from the University of Texas system, and a doctorate in Education from the University of Houston.
Eliz currently works at The Princeton as a teacher, corporate trainer, content developer, and author. Due to her diverse educational and professional background, Eliz will offer a unique perspective on the myriad of issues facing Texas. Eliz hopes to work with all the diverse communities within the district in order to create a more equitable Texas.
Dane County (WI) Board of Supervisors, District 5
Elena is a sophomore at UW-Madison running for the District 5 seat on the Dane County Board of Supervisors, which is the only district on the Dane County Board that is comprised mostly of students. Elena is a full time student, double majoring in Community and Environmental Sociology and Political Science with a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies while also working for the Campus and Visitor Relations Department at the University. Elena is passionate about the issues that impact students on a local level and is dedicated to elevating and representing the voices of students. Elena cares deeply about the environment and climate justice, affordable housing and homelessness, and expanding mental health and sexual violence prevention programming services in Dane County. As a biracial, queer, young woman, Elena is committed to finding mindful and intersectional solutions to the issues that effect constituents of District 5 and will fight to push a progressive agenda in the county. By running, she hopes that it will inspire other young people to run for office and fight for their well-deserved seat at the table when it comes to decision-making in politics.
Madison Common Council, District 5
Max is an LGBTQ+ climate justice activist running for the Madison Common Council. He grew up in Madison, WI and is now a freshman at the University of Wisconsin — Madison. Max has spent countless hours organizing in this community to uplift and empower young people.
At 17, he and his peers founded a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating the climate crisis and empowering youth in Wisconsin. His work with the organization led the group to raise almost $30,000 for climate campaigns. At 18, he was selected as a delegate to the United Nations Climate Action Summit along with other national youth climate leaders in the movement. After witnessing dysfunction and breakdown of discussions at this international summit, he recognized the importance of local governments in combating the greatest existential threat of our times, not to mention tackling issues like social injustice, tenant protections, and many more.
When elected, Max will be the youngest elected official in Wisconsin.