Real People, Real Changes: Introducing the Endorsement Class of February 2019!

Run for Something
Feb 11, 2019 · 16 min read

Can’t stop, won’t stop! Today, Run for Something is proud to endorse 31 new candidates for local office. Representing 11 states, including Virginia, our new endorsees come from all walks of life — teachers, social workers, union organizers, even voting rights activists.

Our February Endorsees!

Our candidates have proven that they are committed to creating a world built on equality and fairness, not just by including people from different backgrounds in their work, but prioritizing their needs when in positions of power. General platitudes simply won’t do in 2019 and they damn sure won’t run with us. Our candidates are committed to doing the work, whether the cameras are watching or not. Most importantly, they have proven that win or lose they will continue to hustle and improve their community for the better.

So don’t be shy, check out our candidates and get to know them before their election! (Also, if you’re feeling inspired, get involved and donate today!)


Carlos Garcia
Phoenix City Council District 8

Carlos has spent the last 16 years of his life fighting for social justice in Arizona. Born in Mexico, he migrated to the US at the age of 5, raised by his mother as a single parent. Carlos studied to be a History teacher, but his path has lead him to be a community organizer his entire adult life. Carlos is married to his partner Alexis a teacher and union leader, they have two children Chimal and Yaretzi.


Leif Dautch
District Attorney of San Francisco

Leif is a California Deputy Attorney General running to be the youngest District Attorney in San Francisco history. Having represented the People in more than 400 criminal cases, Leif has seen the failings our criminal justice system first-hand and has the experience and ideas to fix it. A graduate of Yale and Harvard Law, Leif has served as the President of the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Commission, Vice-Chair of the California State Bar’s Criminal Law Section, and as a delegate to the California Democratic Party. He is running with a focus on homelessness, police accountability, and environmental justice.


David Sabados
Denver City Council, District 1

“At 36, David is an “aging millennial” running for city council in North Denver (district 1) where more than half of residents are now under 40. If elected, he would be the youngest member of the Denver City Council. David has championed living wages, affordable housing, criminal justice reform, universal healthcare, neighborhood schools, and campaign finance reform.

David’s working class roots have shaped his support for labor, an increased minimum wage, and building an economy that works for everyone. David would also be the only renter on Denver city council, despite half of Denver residents now renting their homes.”


Aaron Chess
Peoria city council — At Large

Aaron Chess, 21 and a native of Peoria, IL, is running to become the next Peoria City Councilman- At Large. Inspired by then Senator Obama Presidential Campaign back in 2007 Aaron has been active on various political campaigns ranging from President Obama’s Re-election campaign in 2012 to congressional and local campaigns. During his senior year at Richwoods High School, Aaron advocated for adding a student delegate seat to the Peoria public school’s school board. The motion was adopted and now thanks to Aaron, three students from each of the three Peoria high schools now have serve as student delegates. Aaron is the youngest candidate on the ballot and is currently pursuing his Bachelors in Political Science / Pre-Law from Western Illinois University. The main focus of his campaign is “investing in the youth” — helping provide better opportunities for disenfranchised youth.

Alex Campbell
Normal Town Council

Alex is hoping to become the first student and the youngest ever member elected to the Normal Town Council. Alex wants to fight for more affordable housing, more job/internship opportunities for students, and to give voice to those that feel neglected by the town.

Alexandria Willis
Chicago City Council 3rd Ward

Alexandria Willis is a passionate and steadfast advocate for vulnerable populations and healthy communities in Chicago. Alexandria used her motivations to serve others to pursue a career in healthcare. For the past 10 years, Alexandria has worked to improve healthcare in Chicago as a Geriatric Nurse, a Health Educator, and in her current role, a strategic innovator for the largest not for profit health system in Illinois.

Alexandria is a proud Chicago Public School alumna. Alexandria holds a B.A. in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from Hampton University and a M.A. in Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Alexandria’s educational background in healthcare, policy, and administration as well as her practical experience analyzing large and diverse data sets and making recommendations to senior leadership has prepared her to work collaboratively with others to bring substantive change to her community.

Casey Smagala
Alderman, 39th Ward, City of Chicago

Casey was the middle son of seven children and grew up in the small town of Constantine, MI. His father is a tool and die maker, and his mother helped run their family manufacturing company. He’s incredibly proud of his blue collar roots: “”Seeing my parents wake up before 4:30am every morning showed me the value of hard work!””

Casey moved to the 39th Ward in 2008 to earn his degree and play football at North Park University. While earning his degree in politics with a focus on urban planning, Casey was elected President of his student body, captain of the football team, and became actively involved in economic and community development projects. He helped organize the Taste of Albany Park for students and residents to sample food from local independent businesses.

After graduation, Casey went to work for the under- and unemployed people in our community at the Albany Park Community Center (APCC). He helped manage a million-dollar grant to train community members for in-demand industries. He now serves at the Director of Individual Giving and Community Engagement for APCC where he helps raise resources for the children, parents, and programs. It’s a position he’s held for more than five years and is deeply passionate about!

In addition to his full-time position at APCC, Casey is an active civic leader and volunteer in neighborhoods across the 39th Ward. He served on the Board of Directors for the North River Commission for four years, focusing on economic development and education issues in the Northwest Side. He’s been elected twice to the Local School Council at Roosevelt High School as Community Representative, where he’s forming their Friends Of fundraising group and Advisory Council to their Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the The Well of Mercy, a women’s shelter for mothers and their children. He’s an active member of the Queen of All Saints Men’s club in Sauganash and volunteers many summer mornings at the farmer’s market in Edgebook. He helped form and plan the Albany Park World Fest and Bikes, Bites, & Brews Fest in Mayfair.

Dustin Good
Elgin City Council

Dustin Good is a K-12 graduate of school district U-46 and Elgin Community College. Beyond his work experience in the fields of horticulture, automotive, and food service; Dustin has also spent his time in Elgin serving as Student Trustee, Strategic Adviser, and Downtown Neighborhood Association board member which has provided him ample exposure to the strengths and opportunities within Elgin. Since his time at Elgin Community College he has fought to help immigrant students gain access to scholarships, pushed for the city to partner with ClearGov, and currently serves as chair of Elgin’s farmer market. Dustin wishes to further his service to Elgin by serving on City Council.

Erich Schwenk
Village of Mundelein Trustee

Erich Schwenk is running for Village of Mundelein Trustee. As an active member in the community, Erich serves on the board of directors for the Mundelein Business Alliance and Lake County Junior Chamber (Jaycees), where he serves as president. Erich is passionate about improving Mundelein’s infrastructure, ensuring fiscal responsibility and transparency. As a longtime advocate, Erich has supported those in need. Whether that’s standing with his neighbors after their homes flooded, helping a small business, or standing with the local firefighter’s union, Erich supports his community and is ready to serve as a Trustee for the Village of Mundelein.

Jaime Guzman
Alderman, Chicago’s 14th Ward

Jaime Guzmán is a proud husband, father, lawyer and son of immigrants. He has spent the last 15 years serving the communities on the Southside of Chicago. Jaime has extensive experience leveraging resources for economic development initiatives, youth programs, street intervention, and created sanctuaries for survivors of domestic violence.

Jaime is running against an incumbent that has held the aldermanic seat for 50 years and is the chair of the city’s finance committee. With a strong platform of providing transparency and community involvement to its constituents, Jaime is the leading candidate to bring real change to a community in dire need of extinguishing Chicago’s ‘Boss’ mentality.

Jenn Carrillo
Bloomington City Council, Ward 6

Jenn Carrillo is an unapologetic progressive running to be the next Bloomington City Council Representative. As a queer woman of color and the daughter of a working-class family, she is deeply committed to advancing racial, gender and economic justice in her community. Jenn spent many years living in the US as an undocumented immigrant, and got her start in community organizing by leading a local movement to advance the rights of immigrants nearly ten years ago. She has continued to organize ever since. If elected, Jenn would be the first Latina and openly queer person ever elected to this seat.

Nicole Jeanine Johnson
20th Ward Alderman

“Nicole Johnson says her life changed Dec. 23, 2011, when she came in contact with open gunfire.

The third grade math teacher’s life mantra is, “Lifting as I climb,” which is what Johnson has done throughout her professional career. Her public service includes serving on the Local School Council, community development initiatives with Teamwork Englewood, and youth civic engagement with Chicago Votes; and steered the execution of the “Parade to the Polls” with Chance the Rapper in 2016.

“I’m running because we deserve better. Our people are our greatest assets and with the right opportunities, we can all thrive.”


Alex Burton
Evansville City Council, Ward 4

Alex is seeking to stand on the shoulders of the longest serving councilmember and first African American woman. Alex believes that the future of this city is dependent upon the choices made in the next few years and his involvements put him in the right position to not only serve, but lead and ensure every resident believes that Evansville is for Everyone. Alex believes that the entire 4th Ward is ripe for an increased level of sound and progressive policies without gentrifying the 4th Ward. He is laser focusing on business growth and/or development, housing, and access to healthy foods. Alex is seeking to be a strong voice for people, with a vision for the future that is forward thinking, inclusive, and equitable.

Alex Giorgio-Rubin
South Bend Common Council, At Large

Alex is running for South Bend Common Council At-Large. He lives with his husband, Joshua, and son, Joseph, in South Bend, Indiana and is passionate about serving his community. He is a graduate of Indiana University South Bend and the treasurer of The Saint Joseph County Young Democrats. Alex is ready to serve South Bend with listening, patience ,presence, and follow-through. He believes that people deserve not only the necessities, but also lives filled with joy and fulfillment.

Barry Tyler Jr.
3rd District Hammond City Council

Barry Tyler Jr. is running for 3rd District City Council in Hammond, Indiana. He attended Wabash College where he double majored in Speech and Political Science. Barry has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector and has coached football at Hammond High School, his alma mater, for the past 13 years. He is an active board member with several organizations and a former member of the USW. As a councilman, Barry will focus on increasing employment opportunities, recruiting and maintaining businesses that meet the daily needs of citizens and improving the overall safety and appearance of neighborhoods.

Brian Gulley
Portage City Council, 4th District

Brian is excited to be running for Portage City Council. For more than a decade he and his family have called Portage home. He is a husband and father to four wonderful children. For almost 8 years Brian has been a proud member of the United Auto Workers local 551. Whether it’s through his union, church or other community groups, Brian is always looking for ways to serve and improve his community. Running for City Council is just another opportunity for him to work with is fellow residents to build a better community.

Crista Carlino
Indianapolis City County Council, District 6

Local Indy educator and community advocate Crista Carlino has declared her candidacy for Indianapolis City County Council District 6. As a lifelong Indianapolis resident, Carlino’s roots run deep in her community. After graduating from The University of Indianapolis with a degree in English and Psychology, she later went on to earn her Masters from Marian University, all while being active in numerous neighborhood programs. Carlino describes herself as wife and mother who prioritizes the needs of her students in the classroom and her community members in the district.

“I know I can bring a fresh set of experiences to the table that our city council so desperately needs. I think I am the liaison the Westside needs to advocate for our unique needs downtown.”

D’Angelo Taylor
Evansville City Council — Second Ward

D’Angelo is running to represent the residents of the Second Ward on Evansville’s City Council. His experience is listening to the concerns of others while creating and executing plans of action is why he is the BEST choice for the residents of the Second Ward. D’Angelo’s ability to connect with a variety of groups and his constituents is what the Second Ward has been missing. With D’Angelo in office, he will truly shape Leadership For A Brighter Future!

Josh Walker
Mayor of Plymouth, IN

Josh is running for Mayor of Plymouth, IN. He served in the 101st Airborne as a Cavalry Scout and deployed to Iraq in 2005. Josh is the founder of Recon Media, a boutique branding and marketing agency. He’s mentored the same elementary student since the boy was in Kindergarten and has served on numerous local nonprofit boards like Here/Hear, promoting mental health awareness, and The Rees Theatre Restoration Committee. In 2017, Josh co-founded Discover Plymouth, a local nonprofit focused on downtown revitalization. Josh’s background in branding and marketing, entrepreneurship, crisis response, and military leadership are a prime mix of experience for leading the city of Plymouth into the next era of growth and development.

Keith Potts
Indianapolis City-County Council: District 2

Keith Potts is a proud uncle, young Democrat, and union member. He’s an actor and musician with a public servant’s heart. Whether through a Gershwin standard, a Bach cello suite, or a knock on a voter’s door, Keith’s goal remains the same: make someone’s day brighter. He works hard and brings energy and enthusiasm to whatever he does. His political work started as a volunteer gathering petition signatures and developed into a field organizing position in 2018 with the Indiana Democratic Party. He was recently appointed Vice Chair of the national planning committee for the upcoming July 2019 Young Democrats of America national convention in Indianapolis.

Melvin Douglas Craig III
Crown Point City Council, At-Large

Melvin Douglas Craig III was born in Merrillville and raised in Crown Point, graduating from Crown Point High School in 2017 at age 17. Before his high school graduation, he was a member of Crown Point High School’s Internship program, had organized field trips for his peers, and clocked over 260 community service hours. After graduation and during his gap-year, he started work as a federal contract court reporter for the Social Security Administration’s Office of Hearing Operations in Chicago. He is currently attending school online for Paralegal studies and has hopes to attend law school after obtaining his bachelor’s degree.

Melvin is dedicated to helping small business, keeping the Square profitable, and modernizing the city’s infrastructure.

Tai Adkins
Gary Common Council — 4th District

“Born and raised in the heart of Gary, IN Tai wants to give back and spread her excitement and hope for the city. She wants to use her fresh voice and vision to lead the 4th district into becoming a safer, more connected and successful community.

As a young business professional, Tai has quickly made her mark in the corporate world as a high-performing leader, regularly executing multi-million-dollar contracts with global reach. The change management and problem-solving skills she uses daily in the business world will translate to her goals of delivering innovation and progress for Gary’s 4th district.

Learn more about her efforts to “”revive the heartbeart of the city’ at


James Michael Bowers
City Council — District 1 (Northeast Lincoln)

James Michael Bowers is a social worker and therapist who is running for the Lincoln City Council in Nebraska. James was born and raised in Northeast Lincoln where he got his start in public service by running a food distribution center when he was in high school. James currently works at middle school and founded a private therapy practice for individuals in the neighborhood. James has been active on multiple neighborhood organizations and nonprofits. James is fighting to ensure that Northeast Lincoln has a fair deal and to serve the neighborhood that took care of him.


JoBeth Hamon
City Council, Ward 6, Oklahoma City

JoBeth believes that a community that cares for its most vulnerable members is a healthier community for everyone. Currently serving as the Education Coordinator for Mental Health Association Oklahoma, JoBeth is passionate about ending the stigma of mental illness and homelessness. Since moving to Oklahoma City, JoBeth has lived without a car and relies on OKC’s bus as well her bicycle and feet to navigate the city. JoBeth and her partner Marty live in downtown Oklahoma City with their dog, DJ.


Jen Devor
Philadelphia City Commissioner

Jen Devor is running for City Commissioner because she believes all people should have an equal opportunity to a positive and empowering voting experience. Jen is a working mother and activist. As a community leader, election poll worker, committeeperson, block captain, and marketing professional, Jen recognized the direct correlation between election education and voter turnout in her own neighborhood and across the city. So she decided to run for Philadelphia City Commissioner, a board of elected officials responsible for elections and voter registration. Jen will work everyday to empower Philadelphians to register, vote and use the power of their voice.


JB Smiley
Memphis City Council Super District 8 Position 1

JB Smiley, Jr. is a skilled advocate and public servant who wants to see Memphis grow by directing resources in a way that both improves business growth and meets the needs of its underserved communities. To ensure his district is well represented, he is running for Memphis City Council Super District 8–1. Smiley is a trial attorney, founder of Smiley & Associates, PLLC, and currently serves as Policy Advisor for the Shelby County Clerk’s Office. Smiley believes “effective public service is what happens when collaboration, information, and negotiation meets inspired advocacy.”


Celia Morgan
Arlington City Council District 5

Celia Morgan is a mother, paralegal, UTA student, and a life-long resident of Arlington, Texas. Born at Arlington Memorial Hospital, Celia was raised on the east side of District 5, and attended AISD public schools. As a working mother and professional, Celia understands that the best interests of Arlington families are far more important than the special interests that influence the city’s decision making. District 5 is home to a number of college students, young families, and multi-generation families who all call Arlington home- all of which deserve a voice on the City Council.

Coda Rayo-Garza
Texas House Representative for District 125

Coda’s life and career experiences have prepared her for this race. She has worked in the municipal government, education nonprofit, and the advocacy space. Her career paths have allowed her to understand policymaking from multiple perspectives. She is a graduate of leadership programs such as the New Leaders Council and the Latina Leadership Institute. Her experience with the Truman National Security Project in 2018, sharpened her understanding of national security policy, and reignited her passion for sharing her progressive values and beliefs. She knows what it takes and she’s ready, now, more than ever.


Amanda Pohl
Virginia State Senate, 11th District

Amanda was born and raised in Virginia’s 11th Senate District, where she and her husband now raise their daughters 10 miles from the elementary school Amanda attended. Amanda is a nonprofit team director, adjunct graduate social work instructor, and National President of Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc. A graduate of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, she served for over a decade as a hospital chaplain. Amanda has worked for healthcare for all Virginians, voting rights to formerly incarcerated citizens, privacy rights of sexual and domestic violence survivors, and more in her career. Learn more at

Lucero Wiley
State Senate District 13

Originally from Mexico City, with experience in public service and corporate management, Lucero holds a variety of degrees across a number of disciplines: a Masters in Banking and Finance specializing on Risk Management for Financial Institutions, a Master in Business Administration, a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and also studied Economics at Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM). She is certified by University of San Diego in Strategic Planning and Project Management, and by University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business in Nonprofit Lobbying and Advocacy, as well in Media Relations and Communication Skills. She is also an Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS®), designation awarded by the College for Financial Planning, and a Certified Special Needs Advisor (CSNA®). Lucero was appointed by Governor McAuliffe as a member of VLAB (Virginia Latino Advisory Board) where she served as Chair of Business for the State, helping with SBA, SWAM (Small, Women-Owned, Minority-Owned Businesses), commerce and trade. She also served as Vice President of DLOV (Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia), Board Member and Education Chair of HRHCC (Hampton Roads Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), and has represented the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 5 years in a row at the USHCC Legislative Summit.

Nicole Merlene
Virginia State Senate, 31st District

Nicole is a county commissioner and civic leader running for Virginia State Senate in her hometown. She has been deeply involved in leading the Northern Virginia region through massive systemic change from the incoming Amazon headquarters to tackling a lack of housing for the middle class to integrating new transportation technologies to provide greater access to opportunity. She is running against an incumbent who is a lobbyist with widespread conflicts of interest because she knows her hometown deserves a representative who works for them and not the highest bidder.

Ronnie Ross
Virginia State Senate, 27th District

Ronnie Ross is a high school teacher and administrator who believes that Together, We Can Do Better, and, in doing so, create the communities in which we want to live. Inspired by the birth of his son and prompted by his wife, Ronnie is taking on an incumbent who, the last time there was a real challenge, won by only 600 votes out of 50,000 cast. He will fight for our schools, our environment, our healthcare, and our voting rights, all the while being a fierce advocate for criminal justice reform, equality, and the working class.

Yasmine Taeb
Virginia State Senate, SD-35

Yasmine Taeb is a human rights attorney running to represent Virginia’s 35th Senate District. As a former refugee, she knows we have to fight harder than ever to defend our diversity and the working people of Northern Virginia.

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