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5 Out and Proud Candidates to Look Out for During the 2022 Election

By Isabella Zollner

IMAGE CREDIT: Patrick Pihana Branco, Becca Balint, Izzy Smith-Wade-El, Tina Kotek, Robert Gracia

A new wave of LGBTQ+ candidates are seeking office in the 2022 election cycle. In 2022, there was an almost 20% increase in LGBTQ+ candidates running for election. If we continue to have LGBTQ+ elected officials that truly reflect the diversity of America, it could mean great things for the LGBTQ+ community going forward. Already, Congress is voting on the possibility of codifying the right to same-sex marriage, contraception, and abortion access. Regardless of whether or not those bills move onto the Senate, it is a milestone that they even made it to the floor. A potential 20% increase in LGBTQ+ candidates in government positions, big and small, could significantly improve the future of the LGBTQ+ community. Expanding the Supreme Court, protecting trans peoples’ rights to participate in sports, and banning conversion therapy are just a few of the topics LGBTQ+ candidates want to explore. These candidates will not be elected without active support from our community. While registering to vote and showing up to your polling station is the most important thing you can do, there is more that these candidates need. Remember that some people who support these candidates are too young to vote, are convicted felons, or don’t have citizenship. In addition to voting you can become a campaign volunteer. Below are some of the out and proud LGBTQ+ politicians to look out for this election season and how you can help them get across the finish line.

Patrick Pihana Branco (He/Him)

Patrick Pihana Branco is a State Representative in Hawaii. He is running for a seat in Congress in 2022. Branco’s strong points lie in his unwavering fight against climate change and his support of the Hawaiin economy. Branco recognizes that Hawaii’s economy took a serious hit during the pandemic largely as a result of its dependence on tourism. During the pandemic, Branco didn’t hide away and pretend to make change. Branco stepped in and helped his community as he has a long history of doing. Branco and his grandmother sewed nearly 4,000 masks and handed them out for free to people in his community during the height of the pandemic. Branco cares about every person in his community and is willing to personally work hard for every one of them. Because of that he has made the fight against climate change and diversifying Hawaii’s economy his top priorities. Branco states,

“While the continent talks about the future effects of the climate crisis, Hawaii has been feeling the effects of the climate crisis for years,” he said.

Branco has a plan to kill two birds with one stone by supporting Hawaii’s economy with its fight against the Climate Crisis. As Branco points out, Hawaii is the only state in America that can produce all types of renewable energy. This allows Hawaii to be a leader in renewable energy. By following Branco’s plan new jobs will be created for Hawaiins. If Branco is elected to congress he will not only be the first LGBTQ+ Hawaiin elected to congress. He will diversify and support Hawaii’s economy in a necessary and innovative way.

If you feel helpless, like so many people do now, volunteering is a way you can and should help. And it is actually much simpler than most people would think! Every campaign has opportunities to volunteer remotely and in-person, so anyone across the world can help out.

Branco’s campaign is a great opportunity for Americans who do not live in the continental US to volunteer in person. But for most of us the biggest contribution we can give Branco’s campaign is to volunteer remotely. On Branco’s website, like most political candidates, he asks for donations and volunteers. By filling out the short volunteer questionnaire, you can sign up right now to send texts and make calls to potential voters, completely from your home. A member of his team will reach out soon after and you will be well on your way to building a better future for LGBTQ+ Americans.

Becca Balint (She/Her)

If elected, Becca Balint would join 11 other out LGBTQ+ members of Congress. She would also make history as the first ever female and LGBTQ+ US Congress member from Vermont. Becca Balint’s strong understanding of a wide range of issues has given her plenty of media coverage. But what many media outlets have missed is that Becca Balint reflects the often underrepresented liberal voices from small town America. She has a long history of state government service but her career began as a middle school teacher. She made a point to protect the youth in her classroom during her years of teaching at four different middle schools across Vermont’s rural communities.

In person volunteering might be intimidating but anyone can see that without the courage to step outside our comfort zone, LGBTQ+ Americans could find their rights quickly chipped away by the Republican party. Becca Balint’s campaign is a great first step to in person volunteering because Becca Balint’s volunteer force is powerful and organized. By following her website to the volunteer page, you can find a calendar extending through August with plenty of volunteer opportunities. Her team will guide you through everything from canvassing to casual lunches at the farmers market and their impeccable organization will make the entire process easier. For anyone who is too far away to volunteer with Becca Blaint’s campaign in person, she also has remote phone banks all the way into August. If Becca Balint is elected to US Congress, it will be a win for women and the LGBTQ+ community.

Izzy Smith-Wade-El (They/Them)

Izzy could be the first ever nonbinary State Repersentative for Pensylvania if elected in November. Their policies are innovative and exciting and cover topics that many Liberal politicians let slide. If Izzy is elected, it will be a good sign of a new wave of young Democrats coming into office and changing the world for the better. Izzy’s strongest area is their support for affordable and fair housing. Right now Izzy works for the Homelessness Coalition in their hometown, Lancaster Pennsylvania. They work together with the homeless population of Lancaster to secure affordable housing. On Lancaster City Council, Izzy has funded safe and affordable housing projects. Izzy also works to decriminalize marjuna in their community, supports worker’s unions, and works with the Black Lives Matter movement to reshape the police force in Lancaster. If Izzy is elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, they will bring these issues to all of Pennsylvania and protect countless more families at risk of losing their homes, their jobs, and their livelihoods.

Izzy’s campaign has another unique way of volunteering. By following their website to the volunteer form you can sign up to do any number of six important jobs. For Izzy’s campaign you can sign up to collect data and research for his campaign. Because Izzy is running to be a State Representative their campaign is much more localized and data collection can be easier in a single city versus across an entire state. But that doesn’t make it any less important. Campaigns rely on research that tells them what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. Izzy’s campaign is also running phone banks for anyone who wants to be involved but can’t volunteer in person.

Izzy has already been an enormous benefit to the people of Lancaster as a city council member. As they move up the chain to State Representative there’s no telling how much more of a difference Izzy could make.

Tina Kotek (She/Her)

If elected Tina Kotek would be the first ever lesbian Governor in the United States as the Governor of Oregon. Tina has served in the Oregon House of Representatives for 9 years and was the first ever lesbian Speaker of the House in the US. Oregon has stood out recently as a leader in liberal policies, and Tina Kotek has been at the heart of many of those movements. She raised the minimum wage, was the sole sponsor of a bill to decriminalize homelessness, and put Oregon on a path to use 100% clean energy. Tina has ample experience and a wide range of priorities. Notably, Tina has been a huge advocate for reproductive safety and health. She has ensured that Oregon is a safe place for any person seeking reproductive care that they cannot receive in their home state. In addition, Tina paved the way for for Oregon to pass the Health Equality Act, which made put the right to abortion into Oregon’s state law.

Tina’s campaign also has a unique way to be involved from afar. Tina’s volunteer information page is requesting people to write letters for her. When citizens publicly and proudly voice their support for a politician, it sends ripples of support throughout the country. It proves that the politician has the kind of following needed to be elected and to lead their community. She also has two more phone banking opportunities scheduled and numerous in person canvassing events. Oregon has been a leader in democratic policies during the past decade. Much of that is thanks to Tina Kotek. If she is elected as Governor she can continue to lead the state and the rest of the country as an example.

Robert Garcia (He/Him)

If Robert Garcia is elected to the US Congress he will be the first out LGBTQ+ immigrant ever elected to US Congress. He has served as mayor in Long Beach California for 8 years and led Long Beach through the pandemic. Robert Garcia didn’t flinch away from his city’s needs during the pandemic. Instead he worked tirelessly to ensure Long Beach came out of the pandemic as safely as possible. Long Beach was the first Californian city to vaccinate its educators and 99% of its senior population. Robert Garcia’s vaccination and testing programs received national acclaim and protected thousands. As a Congressman, Robert Garcia would continue to be a leader in healthcare and pandemic preparedness. Robert says he believes“America must be the world’s leader in pandemic prevention and biosafety and biosecurity planning.”

He would work to protect immigrants and pave the way to citizenship, as was done for him.

Garcia’s campaign has two main forms of volunteer service. Every volunteer fills out an application form and checks whether they can volunteer remotely and in person. Then they fill out the dates and a team member from his campaign contacts them with exact times. Robert Garcia’s volunteer team is also highly organized and efficient which makes it another great place for any Californian to start out volunteering.

Volunteering your time to a campaign is very important for politicians. Besides that, it’s a great way to get involved in the political process regardless of your ability to vote in the US. By dedicating your time to volunteering, you’re directly changing our country for the better. Let us know in the comments which out and proud LGBTQ+ candidates you’ll be supporting!

About the Author:

After being subjected to homophobic harassment in the classroom, Isabella decided to try and use her writing to encourage others to stand up for each other and themselves. Isabella is a high school student in Lafayette, IN.

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