The 100 Progressives Elected to Public Offices This November

Exactly one year after a punishing General Election loss, the Democratic Party is still picking up the pieces of its shattered self-image. And while DNC leaders fend off story-hungry pundits about election protocols, emails, and Russia, the American people seem to have a very different vision for their political future. Fueled by a post-2016 vigor, Progressive candidates have started to take over public office seats where they really matter: in local government.

This year’s Special Elections saw a flood of firsts in our country’s electoral history, including the first openly transgender candidates elected in Virginia, Minnesota, California, & Ohio, the first female, African-American, and Sikh mayors in Vancouver, St. Paul, & Hoboken, as well as the first African-American Lieutenant Governor in Virginia.

These victories not only mark a shift in our country’s political zeitgeist, but reinforce the necessity of adequate representation in our politics. Newly elected mayor of Santa Barbara, Cathy Murillo, the city’s first Latina mayor, shares a story from her run:

“I was recycling my campaign lawn signs after the election and a Latino man approached me. After congratulating me on winning my race, he said, in broken English, ‘you are our face.’ His statement really struck me. People want to see themselves reflected in their political leaders; that’s the importance of diverse representation.”

The results of the November 7th election are a clear-cut testament to Sanders’ and Clinton’s calls to action — to get people involved in the political process. These victories were made possible due, in part, to the work of grassroots organizations like Our Revolution, Emerge America, People’s Action, and Democratic Socialists of America (among countless others) who provide leadership training and campaign resources to prospective candidates. “These are the most powerful grassroots organizations right now,” remarks newly elected Somerville, MA City Council member, Ben Ewen-Campen. “They have genuine commitments to winning local elections and are the most energized force on the ground to knock on doors and organize.” Ben was one of seven Our Revolution candidates to run for Somerville City Council seats this year.

All 7 won.

If someone runs on a platform of integrity — of independence from special interests — you can run on that platform, and you can win,” touts Michael Kieschnick, whose Real Justice PAC, founded by former Sanders staffers, helped Progressive candidate Larry Krasner run for the District Attorney seat in Pennsylvania.

As a defense attorney for the Philadelphia Police Department, Krasner made a name for himself over the years by representing local Occupy and Black Lives Matter activists pro bono. In a Twitter post, BLM activist Asa Khalif celebrates Krasner’s efforts, stating that only he could bring so many people from different walks of life together. Krasner focused his platform on lowering Philly’s incarceration rate, which is currently the highest in the country. He put an emphasis on reaching out to low-income communities, expanding the criminal case review process, and strengthening ties between law enforcement and civilians. This caught the attention of the local community activists, and in turn, national media.

And he won.

It should come as no surprise that voters are looking for honest, driven, and transparent individuals to represent their interests. With many of our elected officials focused on their corporate financiers, national public opinion, or the daily hysterics the White House, just how well are they representing our local communities? This very question has been at the forefront of social & economic justice activists’ minds since before the 2016 Election. Today, these activists are challenging traditional Democrats as the party refocuses its priorities and core values going into 2018.

“We are not the gate crashers of today’s Democratic Party,” said Elizabeth Warren to a crowd of Progressives at this year’s Netroots Nation Conference. “We are not a wing of today’s Democratic Party; we are its heart and soul.”

The cold reality, as we all know, is that all three branches of our government are currently being occupied by Republican majorities, which makes the lack of unity on the left quite daunting as we approach the the Midterm Elections. However, in the case of Lee Carter, a newly-elected socialist in the Virginia House of Delegates, Party unity did not seem to be a problem:

A sign of the times? Let’s hope so. With hundreds of candidates running people-powered campaigns throughout the country, the progressive left has amassed quite the momentum since last year’s unsuccessful Primaries. “This is exactly what happens when our government does not have the best interest of its constituents at its lead,” explains Tyler Titus, a newly-elected School Board member in Erie, PA. “We stand up and take the baton back.”

Thanks to former Los Angeles City Council candidate Jessica Salans and an awesome team of progressive activists, we‘ve compiled a few dozen more groundbreaking wins from all around the country. Below is a comprehensive list of 100 vetted Progressives who were elected to public offices in the November 7th, 2017 Special Election.


CALIFORNIA

1. Cathy Murillo
Mayor, Santa Barbara, CA — Progressive Platform
* First Latina Mayor of Santa Barbara

What is something thing you would like to see changed in your community?
I am excited to work with my colleagues to create economic and housing opportunities for our residents and working families. With Santa Barbara real estate values as high as they are, we need to strive for affordability. I will also continue to provide internships for young people in the Mayor’s office, as I have for the last six years. My goal is to empower our youngest residents with the knowledge that they are strong and valuable and active participants in our community.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
My advice is simple: get involved. Consume news and/or sign up to receive the city council meeting agendas every week. Attend community workshops and lectures, go to the council meetings. Apply to serve on a city or county advisory board or commission. The League of Women Voters puts on monthly educational lunch meetings — daytime events may not be too convenient for working people, but plenty of events take place in the evening or weekends. Also, get involved with our progressive community groups, or organizations like the Bicycle Coalition or Ethnic Studies Now. Our community benefits from increased public participation, and every voice should be heard. For someone wanting to run for political office, the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee conducts trainings, and there are other leadership training programs.
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
Our community needs the same things: women need equal pay and have control of their reproductive rights, renters need affordable housing, families need their children to do well in school, we all need to protect the environment. I’m hoping that my style of leadership — being out in the community attending school functions, non-profit events, and civic activities — will help people feel connected to their municipal government. I get it, people are busy or believe that their vote doesn’t matter. I hope to let our residents know that the City Council makes policy decisions that directly impact the quality of their lives. I am honored to be the City’s first Latina mayor and will strive to build relationships with all our residents and to help improve their lives.

2. Lisa Middleton
City Council Member, Palm Springs, CA
Progressive Platform
* First transgender person elected to a non-judicial office in California

“This isn’t a city that tolerates diversity. This is a city that celebrates diversity”


3. Noelia Corzo
School Board Member, San Mateo-Foster City, CA
Progressive Platform, Our Revolution


COLORADO

4. Crystal Murillo
City Council Member, Aurora, CO
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

5. Nicole Johnston
City Council Member, Aurora, CO
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

6. Allison HIltz
City Council Member, Aurora, CO
People’s Action, Progressive Platform


CONNECTICUT

7. Charles Decker
City Council Member, New Haven, CT
Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Platform

8. Gina Morgenstein
City Council Member, Wallingford, CT — Our Revolution, Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Platform

What is something thing you would like to see changed in your community?
I would really like to see an increase in Transit Oriented Developments in our city. More retail-residential areas with bike paths connecting our downtown Center Street and a trails connecting other parts of the town — this is a very important step to help promote public health and activity in our community.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
Get involved. Before my run, I served on 3 different local commissions which allowed me to get to know my community. I was able to win my campaign thanks to my team of volunteers who knocked on over 4600 doors, made hundreds of phone calls and sent out postcard reminders to voters in the mail. We utilized a local artist and historic photos in our materials and promoted heavily online.
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
First and foremost, people in our community need to come together in the fight against opiate addiction and deaths. It is a problem here in New Haven as it is a problem in other parts of the country. Overall, I believe we are all united in our core values. We saw our Democratic Town Committee grow immensely after the 2016 presidential defeat and it only keeps growing as we see our progressive values get challenged every day under this administration.

9. Justin Farmer
City Council Member, Hamden, CT
Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Platform

10. Baird Welch-Collins
City Council Member, Waterford, CT — Green Party, Progressive Platform

What is something thing you would like to see changed in your community?
I would like us to move away from reactive policies and embrace more proactive ones. Waterford is an economically and environmentally changing town. Our municipal government should keep up with these changes to ensure that we are maintaining a healthy and vibrant community.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
My advice is to set ambitious, but realistic goals for yourself and your campaign. Focus on elections that you know you can win and develop a long-term strategy to gradually build your movement. Be honest with the voters about what you can and cannot accomplish and speak to the issues that they care about. Voters rallied behind my campaign, in part, because I applied the values that I believe in to the issues that matter locally.
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
People are anxious for a change and are increasingly looking for candidates to speak directly to their interests and needs. Voters were willing to rally behind my campaign because I offered a realistic, progressive option while demonstrating an active effort to collaborate and work with mainstream party candidates. Professionalism and civility are very important to voters, especially in today’s political climate. Finding ways to work collaboratively across party lines and treating everyone with respect is a value that will always work to your advantage.

11. Nina Sherwood
City Council Member, Stamford, CT
Bernie 2016 Delegate, Progressive Platform

12. Dagmar Noll
City Council Member — Willimantic, CT
Green Party, Progressive Platform

What is something you would like to see changed in your community?
Ethnic and racial minority representation at all levels of government that is proportional to the makeup of our population. Willimantic is 40% latino, and that is not reflected in our councils, committees, boards, commissions, and most government departments.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
First, if you aren’t ready to lose, then you aren’t ready to win. Whatever the result of your race, know that every genuine conversation, every vote you gain, is testament to the power of the ideas you support in the long game. Have a plan for supporting the issues and movements you care about if you win. Have a plan for supporting the issues and movements you care about if you lose. Keep track of your allies in each fight along the way. Keep fighting. My hero Nina Turner says it best: “Titles are good, but purpose is better.” Let purpose be your compass. Second, listen more than you talk, but do step up to communicate your views when the opportunity presents itself. Finally, attend campaign school for basic strategy lessons if this is your first go-round. I attended a single day workshop and it was a big help.
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
A desire for more transparent and welcoming government. Renewable energy, particularly solar initiatives. Pride of place. These were all common concerns among people in my community.

13. Mirna Martinez
School Board Member, New London, CT
Green Party, Progressive Platform


GEORGIA

14. Deborah Gonzalez
State Assembly Member (District 117)
Progressive Platform

15. Jonathan Wallace
State Assembly Member (District 119)
Progressive Platform

16. Jonathan McCollar
Mayor, Statesboro, GA
Progressive Platform
* First African-American Mayor of Statesboro

“When I think of progressivism, I think about us being proactive as far as getting the people in a position to take advantage of economic opportunities within the community.”


17. Mary Parham Copelan
Mayor, Milledgeville, GA
Democratic Party
* First Female African-American Mayor of Milledgeville

18. Booker Gainor
Mayor, Cairo, GA
Progressive Platform
* First African-American Mayor of Cairo

“I was able to directly see and hear firsthand the concerns and the issues affecting the city and affecting the community.”


19. Ted Terry
Mayor, Cairo, GA
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform


IOWA

20. Jonathan Green
Mayor, Lone Tree, IA — Progressive Platform

What is something you would like to see changed in your community?
I want the government and the citizens to take a more active role in our town. Down to the nuts and bolts of proper city management: making meeting agendas accessible on multiple platforms and broadcasting town meetings.
While it is a choice to be involved in your local government, cities can and should work harder to ensure they are soliciting feedback from more of their folks and giving everyone an opportunity to be heard. Too often, for too many, avenues to participation are oblique — getting involved seems too hard. I hope to change those perceptions in Lone Tree and take away those barriers.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
Don’t follow my lead. Follow your gut. In a land of trucker hats, I wear a felt cowboy hat (I’m from Wyoming). My unofficial slogan is “I’m just a strange man in a funny hat. Vote for me.” Everyone knows I’m a bit eccentric, but they also know that I am always myself. Be authentic and be honest.
If you have the time and the money, I’d suggest joining a leadership training program. I attended Camp Wellstone this spring, where I attended workshops on grassroots politics and organizing. If money is an issue, don’t be afraid to ask your friends or colleagues for help. For better or worse, at some point you’re going to have to ask for money, you might as well practice now.
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
A spirit of community. Our town is small enough that the city government is non-partisan, though I’ve never shied away from my politics. I’m a member of the Democratic Party State Central Committee. I’ve always got yard signs up. But this election wasn’t about that. We have a town, but what can we do to make it a better community?

21. Mazahir Salih
City Council Member, Iowa City, IA
Progressive Platform 
* First Sudanese-American City Council Member

22. Kate Larson
City Council Candidate, Dubuque, IA
Progressive Platform

“We focused on issues people cared about, and it’s paying off. Turnout for this election was nearly double that four years ago.”


23. Ross Grooters
City Council Member, Pleasant Hill, IA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform


MARYLAND

24. Ben MacShane
City Council Member, Frederick, MD
Progressive Platform


MASSACHUSETTS

25. Yvonne Spicer
Mayor, Framingham, MA
Progressive Platform
* First African-American Mayor of Framingham

“I need you to be a representative of our community in a way that makes really good sense for all of us.”


26. Lydia Edwards
City Council Member, Boston, MA
Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Platform

27. Matt McLaughlin
City Council Member, Somerville, MA
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

28. Ben Ewen-Campen
City Council Member, Somerville, MA — Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

What is something thing you would like to see changed in your community?
One of the things I will be working is housing affordability. This is, by far, the most serious issue facing Somerville, and there is no silver bullet. But I’m committed to doing everything in my power to help re-direct Somerville away from rampant real-estate speculation and luxury development and instead towards housing, transportation and job opportunities for the 99%.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
I firmly believe that campaigning is 100% about knocking on doors and talking to your neighbors. There is no substitute and there are no shortcuts to talking face to face about the issues — this is why grassroots organizations like Our Revolution and DSA chapters are so important and powerful in progressive politics, because these folks show up to knock doors — they don’t just post on social media and send some money, they bring people power in a serious way. In my district of Somerville, my volunteers and I knocked on over 13,000 doors over the course of the campaign, plus an additional ~5,000 on Get Out The Vote Weekend, and we saw the highest turnout in the city. We nearly tripled the turnout from the last municipal election
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
This might sound old-fashioned, but I believe that people here are driven by a sense of fairness. People want to know to be able to trust that they aren’t getting screwed over, and that if something tough is going on in the neighborhood, it’s happening for a reason, and hopefully for the greater good. So I think this speaks to the need for transparency and accountability in government, so folks can be assured that the government is working on their behalf, not for special interests.

29. Bill White
City Council Member, Somerville, MA
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

30. JT Scott
City Council Member, Somerville, MA
Our Revolution, Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Platform

31. Mary Jo Rossetti
City Council Member, Somerville, MA
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

33. Will Mbah
City Council Member, Somerville, MA
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

“ Keeping special interest money out of local politics will allow me to make decisions based on what is best for the community.”


33. Jesse Clingan
City Council Member, Somerville, MA
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform


MICHIGAN

34. Tasha Green
City Council Member, Westland, MI
People’s Action, Progressive Platform


MINNESOTA

35. Melvin Carter
Mayor, St. Paul, MN
Progressive Platform
* First African-American Mayor of St. Paul

“Just to clarify, an officer’s job is to maintain the peace, and that means whenever possible to de-escalate.”


36. Jeremiah Ellison
City Council Member, Minneapolis, MN
People’s Action, Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, Progressive Platform

37. Andrea Jenkins
City Council Member, Minneapolis, MN
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

* First African-American Transgender Woman elected to a City Council

“We have to dispel the myth that black candidates don’t work hard, that black candidates can’t get elected.”


38. Phillipe Cunningham
City Council Member, Minneapolis, MN
Progressive Platform
* First Transgender man elected to a city council in Minnesota

39. Joel Sipress
City Council Member, Duluth, MN
Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Platform

40. Renee Van Nett
City Council Member, Duluth, MN — People’s Action, Progressive Platform

What is something you would like to see changed in your community?
I am happy when people are doing well, however ‘doing well’ translates for them. I will work for equality and equity for communities of color, native peoples and the underprivileged members of our city. Our children deserve the best future we can guarantee. We need to start by bringing our community together.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
Jump out early, and run hard until the end. Do not assume for one second that you can rest. Do not leave one door un-knocked or one forum unattended. Strategy and planning to executing. Have a strong committed team. I had a campaign manager for my initial jump off then relied on a team of advisors and unions to work on a plan and raise money. Keep in mind running isn’t necessarily about winning. Get involved so you can earn your stripes for the next run. Pace yourself and take care of yourself. As a Native Woman with strong core beliefs, I was able to gain trust from my community. Run on the issues that people care about in your districts and stay focused.
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
People want to be heard and taken seriously. They want to be valued as a tax payer. They want to feel safe and secure in their homes and neighborhoods. Hard work matters to them and fair representation is key.

41. Londel French
Park Board Commissioner, Minneapolis, MN
People’s Action, Progressive Platform




NEW JERSEY

44. Phil Murphy
Governor, New Jersey
Democratic Party

45. Sheila Oliver
Lieutenant Governor, New Jersey
Democratic Party

* First Female African-American Lieutenant Governor in New Jersey

46. Ravinder Bhalla‏
Mayor, Hoboken, NJ
Progressive Platform

* First Sikh-American Elected Mayor of Hoboken

“This election represents that, in America, if you work hard and you’re qualified — the sky is the limit and you can do anything.”


47. Sadaf Jaffer
City Council Member, Montgomery, NJ — Progressive Platform

What is something thing you would like to see changed in your community?
First off, let me say that I am honored that the people of Montgomery Township elected me to serve on the Montgomery Township Committee. We made it a goal in our campaign to encourage Montgomery residents to pay attention to the future of their local governance, and I pledge to keep this momentum going and to foster even greater civic engagement in Montgomery Township. This campaign has been about serving all community members with honesty and openness. We are rejecting the politics of misinformation and prejudice. This is the change that our town needs.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
Start talking to people about the fact that you want to run, even if you have no idea how to do it. You’ll be surprised at the advice and support you’ll get from so many diverse sources. Sign up for trainings, there are plenty of them out there. Connect with your municipal party because everything starts locally. Ask for advice from people in the roles you hope to have some day. Keep things in perspective, we are building a movement and every vote and every educated and inspired voter matters.
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
Hope unites people. Most people want to have hope for a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. They want to work with people who empathize with their experiences and engage with them. Fear also unites people. Fear of an uncertain future, fear of the unknown. I believe it is the role of leaders to try to understand the fears of their community and channel them constructively into hope. Leaders should clarify the extent and nature of challenges faced by the community rather than sensationalize them.
We all have fears but how do we face them and move forward? This is the essential question the public wants answered from their governmental representatives.

48. Heather McMurchie Champagne
School Board Member, Roxbury, NJ
Progressive Platform

49. Jessica Clayton
School Board Member, Brick, NJ — Progressive Platform

What is something you would like to see changed in your community?
As a new member of our School Board, I would like to see play and recess become more valued in our children’s education. Peer reviewed research continues to prove that recess naturally improves children’s learning, focus, conflict mediation, problem solving, and social skills. Schools in our district, and throughout the country, have been taking recess away at alarming rates. I have noticed that our elementary schools take recess privileges away for every minor infraction and our middle schools don’t provide recess at all. We need this to change.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
Board of Education candidates don’t usually have websites and social media pages that let people know about their platform and stances on important issues. I decided early on that I would like to make my presence know in my community by utilizing Facebook, Twitter, in addition to my website. That was likely one of the reasons I why I was elected over the other two candidates.
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
People want to see their children succeed in school and in life. My community seemed very receptive to my platform to increase play and create a mandatory recess policy. Be passionate about your dedication and beliefs and you will see that you have more in common with people than you think.

NEW YORK

50. George Latimer
County Executive, Westchester County, NY
Indivisible, Progressive Platform

51. Laura Curran
County Executive, Nassau County, NY
Progressive Platform
* First female to hold a County Executive position in Nassau County

“We are going to end the pervasive culture of corruption and ensure that government finally starts to serve our hardworking residents.”


52. Brian Nowak
City Council, Cheektowaga, NY
Democratic Socialists of America, Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

53. Ann Finney
City Council, Poughkeepsie, NY
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

54. Carlos Menchaca
City Council Member, New York City, NY
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform
* First Mexican-American city council member in New York, first LGBTQ member in Brooklyn

55. Christopher Johnson
City Council, Westchester, NY
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

56. Alfredo Balarin
City Council Member, Albany, NY
People’s Action, Progressive Platform



NORTH DAKOTA

58. Kara Gloe
School Board Member, Moorhead, ND
Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Platform


OHIO

59. Tristan Rader
City Council Member, Lakewood, OH — Democratic Socialists of America, Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

What is something thing you would like to see changed in your community?
I would really like to repeal our pit bull ban. This law has been used time and time again in communities across the country to discriminate against low income and minority people. There is an “us v them” notion that goes back to red districts. We, as a city, need to be more inclusive.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
My advice is: do all the things! Start earlier than your opponents and raise money like there’s no tomorrow —it just takes time and a phone. Surround yourself with smart people who want change as much as you do. Listen to people and repeat to them what they say. If you are running for city council, run like you’re running for Congress. You need to outwork your competition and, chances are, you can.
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
People want to be heard. They may not always approach you in a nice way but their needs are there. You need to listen and give their voice weight, even if you are on the other side of an issue. At the end of the day, people share the same basic needs.

60. Jasmin Santana
City Council Member, Cleveland, OH
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

61. Tamaya Dennard
City Council Member, Cincinnati, OH 
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

62. Zachary Holden Ravanelli
School Board Member, Brunswick, OH 
Progressive Platform

63. Frank A. Zona
School Board Member, Medina, OH — Progressive Platform

What is something thing you would like to see changed in your community?
More responsive governance. Certain problems, like the heroin crisis for instance, need to be addressed as a community, from the schools, to police, programs, and the courts, and if more people’s voices could be heard and their effort put in the right places, we could really make a serious and lasting difference. If that mechanism were in place everywhere to let the people choose the person with the best ideas and energy to bring the community together to effectively impact what matters, it’d be a much different world.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
Keep an open mind, ask questions, network, and never give up. You don’t need a boatload of money to wage a successful campaign. If you’re organized, professional, and have a clear and concise message that people believe in, anything can happen if you take it straight to the voters. A friend of mine just won a city council race by just a handful of votes. Every conversation matters, and even if you don’t win you can generate a lot of important debates and helpful conversations in the process.
I didn’t go to school for politics or plan it as a career option, but like many of the Progressives and Democrats in Ohio, I simply didn’t feel like I could sit on the sidelines and stay quiet, so I threw myself in. The experience I had this year was far different than my 2016 run for State Representative because the elections were township, city, school-district wide. People could vote for candidates that were more representative of them. Elections like this one are rewarding for people who are in it for the right reasons and can pull ahead to win over people’s support.
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
Listening unites people, understanding each other unites people, because at the end of the day as Americans we have the same rights and freedoms. We all have hopes, dreams and people we care about, and those things are closer to people’s hearts than any partisan disputes we may share.

PENNSYLVANIA

64. Mik Pappas
District Justice, Pittsburgh, PA
Our Revolution, Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Platform

65. Larry Krasner
District Attorney, Philadelphia, PA
Our Revolution, Democratic Socialists of America, People’s Action, Progressive Platform

“I am contributing to major social change and it’s making me feel, I don’t know … significant, whole.”


66. Janet Diaz
City Council Member, Lancaster, PA — Progressive Platform
* First Latina elected to city council in Lancaster

What is one thing you would like to see changed in your community?
We have a gentrification problem in Lancaster City, 45% of population live in poverty, the majority being minorities. The city continues to get funding for special projects which do not include, fixing blighted properties to have more affordable housing in the low southeast and southwest part of the city. I want to see more affordable housing and fewer landlords who abuse the poverty stricken constituents. People are affair of speaking up about their poor living conditions because they don’t have anywhere else to move due to the high rental costs. Developers are literally pushing them out on the streets to become homeless.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
Focus on the people that need you to be their voice. Many are not well-informed or lack understanding of the system. Be compassionate to those in need by listening to what they are relaying to you. Low income families, the elderly, homeless and the mentally ill are taken advantage of the most. Put yourself in their shoes. I experienced homelessness as a teen because my mother could not get hired as she was a minority in a city of all middle class white people. It seems this is an problem that will never change unless people start getting over their biases and companies start diversifying their hires. Listen to the needs of people. You never know what they’ve been through.
 
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
The values of our society can often be identified by noting that which people receive, honor or respect. Some are open to political or social change more than others. Lancaster core values still seem to be religious in nature, since officials have been under scrutiny to take religion out of schools, business, and government. Because this is Amish and Mennonites country, many hold their faith very close. As public officials, this is something we need to respect.

67. Anita Prizio
City Council Member, Pittsburgh, PA
Democratic Socialists of America, Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

68. Tyler Titus
School Board Member, Erie, PA — 
Progressive Platform
* First transgender person to be elected in the state of Pennsylvania

What is one thing you would like to see changed in your community?
I would love for the community to shift its focus back to creating equitable opportunity for all socioeconomic classes. Erie, PA is a beautiful city full of passionate, intelligent, and diverse people; however, we are only listening to a subset of individuals who have attained a certain economic status, live in particular neighborhoods, or belong to certain connected circles. This is an injustice and unacceptable. People want to believe it’s someone else’s problem to fix or to point fingers at those are forced to remain in impossible situations. We owe the people of this community, especially those most at risk, an actual opportunity to empower themselves and create their own path to happiness. We do that through equitable resource distribution in our schools. We do that through creation of jobs that will not only employ those looking to start over, but pay a wage in which they are able to provide for their family without being dependent on state assistance. We do not do it by pointing blame.
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give to other Progressives following your lead?
I would tell them to write down why they want to run for office or obtain a leadership role. They need to return to it over and over again throughout the campaign process. Campaigning isn’t easy and it requires vulnerability and genuine commitment. It is, however, an invaluable personal growth process that I hope more people are brave enough to engage in. Change only comes when people take a chance at making a difference. I do not believe in waiting for someone else to rectify situations. I believe in bringing solutions to table and pushing change forward.
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
People are united about wanting safe and thriving neighborhoods and schools. People want to know someone is fighting to make the community stronger and prosperous. People really do align more than they disagree. People really are filled with more compassion than hatred. Social media and news sources would lead us all to believe otherwise, but this campaign has shown me differently.

69. Kaylyn Mitchell
School Board Member Quakertown, PA — Progressive Platform

What is something you would like to change in your community?
 
Our community is in need of a lot of changes. We need to focus more on fiscal responsibility, investing into education and poorly maintained facilities. The previous School Board Directors raised taxes every single year with little to show for it. We have many buildings in need of repair, and have been on track to close schools and increase class sizes. Many decisions were rushed and not thought out. My team and I are also now bringing a parent perspective to the table — previously, only one board member had a child in the district. We believe it is crucial to have parents represent our School Board.
 
As someone who has successfully led a local election campaign, what advice can you give other Progressives following your lead?
 
The most important aspect of campaigning is knocking doors and connecting with your community. There is absolutely NO alternative to meeting people in person and sharing what you stand for- while also listening to their stories. If you don’t like knocking on someone’s door and feel awkward, that is normal for most! Once you start talking to people you will really enjoy it. Door canvassing is the key to winning. Listen to understand…not necessarily to respond. Make sure you are strategic in how you spend your time. There are ways to target the most likely voters. Develop a strong social media presence. Make videos. Be authentic! Be approachable! Be a caring leader!
 
Based on your interactions with your constituents, what values tend to unite people?
 
Break outside of the party mold! Anytime people want to talk party politics, talk issues. When you do this, you will find people have a whole lot more in common than they have different. Be compassionate. Even when someone doesn’t agree, make a point to truly listen to them and try to understand how they landed on that point of view. I really believe listening is what unites people. Everyone has a story and wants to share it. When you go the extra mile to listen and empathize with someone , you will connect with them in ways most cannot possibly do. And you will quickly learn everyone has joy, pain, challenges, loss, fear, and love. My team unseated 4 Republicans in a majority Republican District! You can do the impossible.

70. Anna Payne
Auditor, Middletown, PA
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform


SOUTH CAROLINA

71. Brendon Barber
Mayor, Georgetown, GA
Democratic Party


TENNESSEE

72. Seema Singh Perez
City Council Member, Knoxville, TN
Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Platform


VIRGINIA

73. Ralph Northam
Governor, Virginia
Democratic Party

74. Justin Fairfax
Lieutenant Governor, Virginia
Democratic Party
* Second African-American to be elected Lieutenant Governor in Virginia

75. Chris Hurst
House of Delegates, District 12, VA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

“I am only being made whole now with my dedication to the service of the people who supported me. We cannot have our liberties, our freedom to choose our own way, without the dedication to protect them.”


76. Kelly Fowler 
House of Delegates, District 21, VA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

77. Danica Roem
House of Delegates, District 13, VA
Progressive Platform
* First transgender state lawmaker in U.S. history

“I’m proud of my LGBT activism, but it’s not my life’s work. My focus is on traffic, jobs, schools, and health care. You can’t fool people by distracting with social issues.”


78. Elizabeth Guzman
House of Delegates, District 31, VA
People’s Action, Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

79. Hala Ayala
House of Delegates, District 51, VA
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

80. Kathy Tran 
House of Delegates, District 42, VA
Democratic Party

81. Lee Carter
House of Delegates, District 50, VA
Our Revolution, Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Platform

“If you deliver a message of economic empowerment for working people, if you don’t take any contributions from the corporate interests, and you combine those two things with a social vision of an inclusive society, people from all walks of life will react to that.”


82. Jennifer Carroll Foy
House of Delegates, District 2, VA
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

83. Nikuyah Walker
City Council Member, Charlottesville, VA
Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Platform



85. Rebecca Saldana
State Senator, District 37, WA
Democratic Party

86. Jenny Durkan
Mayor, Seattle, WA
Democratic Party

87. Anne McEnerny-Ogle
Mayor, Vancouver, WA
Progressive Platform

88. Lorena Gonzalez
City Council Member, Seattle, WA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

89. Teresa Mosqueda
City Council Member, Seattle, WA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

90. Zak Idan
City Council Member, Tukwila, WA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

91. De’Sean Quinn
City Council Member, Tukwila, WA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

“Listening more than I talk is the key to learning what the public wants. I have spent my career bringing people together to hear their hopes and needs for our community.”


92. Pedro Olguin
City Council Member, Burien, WA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

93. Rituja Indapure
City Council Member, Sammamish, WA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

94. Karol Brown
City Council Member, Bellevue, WA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

95. Ruth Perez
City Council Member, Renton, WA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

96. Jesse Johnson
City Council Member, Federal Way, WA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

97. Satwinder Kaur
City Council Member, Kent, WA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

“Progress is possible if schools, elected officials and interfaith groups take small but consistent steps toward combating bias.”


98. Kay Funk
City Council Member, Yakima, WA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform

99. Dave Upthengrove
City Council Member, King County, WA
Progressive Platform

100. Don Orange
Port Commissioner, Vancouver, WA
People’s Action, Progressive Platform


Honorable Mentions

For every Progressive candidate who was able to secure their public office seat, a dozen more continue to impact their communities every day by listening, learning, and leading by example. Here are a few candidates who ran vigorous campaigns in their hometowns by focusing their platforms on people, rather than profit.

Jabari Brisport
City Council Candidate, District 35, NY
Our Revolution, Green Party, Progressive Platform

Vincent Fort
Mayoral Candidate, Atlanta, GA
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

Ray Dehn
Mayoral Candidate, Minneapolis, MN
Our Revolution, Progressive Platform

Ginger Jentzen
City Council Candidate, Minneapolis, MN
Socialist Alternative, Progressive Platform

The bottom line: ordinary people are becoming involved in their local communities and it’s invigorating to watch.


What‘s Next?

Want to run for public office in your hometown or find out about the progressive candidates already running?

Our Voice USA, a non-profit founded by former DNC Chair Candidate, Samuel Ronan, has created an active directory of grassroots candidates running for local offices. Listing is free and open to candidates of all political affiliations.

According to a statement made by the org, Our Voice’s primary goal is to “bridge the communicative gap between disenfranchised voters and the qualified politicians who seek to represent them.” The team is in the process of developing a series of cost-effective tools that, unlike others on the market, won’t cost candidates thousands of dollars to access. This includes digital candidate tool-kits, a phonebanking software, and a news network focused on keeping candidates and voters updated throughout an election cycle. “Citizens are hungry for transparency in politics. Their voice is Our Voice. We hear them, and together we will amplify.”

435 House and 33 Senate seats up for election in 2018.

Let your voice be heard.