UPDATE: Running with Pride! Meet 11 State and Local Candidates Shaking up Politics

Run for Something
Run for Something
Published in
10 min readJun 10, 2024

Summer is here and it is everyone’s favorite time of year — PRIDE! This month we are highlighting awesome Queer candidates that are ready to change their communities for the better.

💡 Did you know LGBTQIA+ folks make up just 3% of State Legislators nationwide? Holding just 226 out of 7,572 elected seats, we must elect 316 more Queer folks to State Legislatures to get equitable representation.

— The Victory Institute

Check out these candidates vying for seats at the state and local level and chip in to help get them elected! Happy Pride, y’all!

Giona Picheco- RI State House, District 14

Giona, a U.S. Navy veteran and sociology teacher, is also a community advocate seeking election as a State Representative in Cranston and Providence. Her campaign prioritizes grassroots efforts and volunteer engagement to challenge the incumbent conservative representative. Giona’s motivation for running stems from the lack of attention to persistent community issues by the current leadership.

She aims to address affordable housing, public education, and healthcare quality for seniors and veterans. Strongly advocating for environmental preservation, abortion rights, LGBTQIA+ equality, and gun safety laws, she plans to be a vocal supporter of progressive causes if elected. If successful, Giona would make history as Rhode Island’s first transgender legislator.

Ramon Bartelemy- UT House, District 24

Ramón is a candidate running for the Utah State House of Representatives, with a passion for representing his neighbors and making positive change. With a background in LGBTQ+ advocacy and Hispanic heritage, Ramón has firsthand experience with the challenges faced by marginalized and underserved communities in both professional and educational settings.

Having earned his BS in Astrophysics from Michigan State University, followed by a PhD in Physics Education Research from Western Michigan University, Ramón has dedicated his career to promoting inclusivity and changing national policies to support underrepresented groups in the sciences. His collaboration with civil rights attorneys and impactful research showcases his commitment to fostering a more equitable society.

As a science professor at the University of Utah, Ramón has generated over $5 million to bolster the local economy and support marginalized communities in the field of sciences. Fueled by his previous accomplishments, he is now shifting his focus to Utah politics, aiming to create a more inclusive environment in the beehive state.

If elected, Ramón will not only bring a unique personal perspective but also leverage his professional skills to lead the state in science-minded legislation and prioritize the welfare of communities. As the first openly gay Hispanic legislator in Utah, as well as the first physics professor and science policy professional in the House, he will bring a fresh and diverse voice to the table.

Having experienced a working-class upbringing himself and having utilized education as a pathway to success, Ramón intends to leverage his position to break down barriers and create opportunities for others throughout Utah. His vision for a more inclusive and supportive society will drive his efforts as a representative, ensuring that the needs and aspirations of all Utah residents are heard and valued.

Nicole Maldonado- OK House, District 53

Nicole, a Queer Latina woman, is dedicated to defending democracy and advocating for the rights of marginalized communities impacted by the attacks of the MAGA movement. Raised in Colombia by a single mother and grandmother, she learned the value of strength and resilience early on. Nicole attributes her teachers for instilling in her the importance of acceptance and inclusion. Influential women and leaders in Oklahoma played a significant role in shaping Nicole’s beliefs in the power of community.

A Political Science graduate from Southeastern State University, Nicole also competed in collegiate tennis. With experience as a community organizer, Nicole has been involved in political campaigns and has worked with elected officials at the state capitol. Currently, she serves on the Oklahoma City Community Public Safety Advisory Board representing Ward 2.

Brady Coulthard- WI State Assembly, District 14

Brady, a seventh-generation Wisconsinite, was inspired to pursue a career in pharmacy after working at a community pharmacy during high school. However, after the tragic mass shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018, Brady shifted his focus to political science and Spanish. He became involved with the March For Our Lives movement and has since been active in various Democratic Party campaigns, labor strikes, and gun violence prevention organizations.

Brady’s commitment to public service led to his appointment by Governor Tony Evers to the Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board, where he worked to expand financial aid access for college students and support families with loan repayment during the pandemic. Today, Brady applies his passion for public health and safety to his small business while advocating for the well-being of all Wisconsinites.

Noah Nordstrom- TN State House, District 83

Noah, a passionate advocate for justice and community empowerment, has emerged as a key figure in educational reform. Raised in Murphysboro, Illinois, as the son of a pastor, Noah’s sense of purpose was deeply rooted from an early age. His move to Knoxville, Tennessee, during his teenage years sparked his interest in activism, leading to an internship at the Knox County Democratic Party in 2015. As a traveling field organizer for the Tennessee Democratic Party, Noah championed various causes while studying International Affairs and Applied Spanish at East Tennessee State University.

Through teaching English in Mexico and managing a State Senate campaign, he gained diverse experiences that shaped his views on social issues. Transitioning to a role as a high school Spanish teacher in Memphis, Noah confronted the challenges of underfunded education with determination. His commitment to his students inspired him to seek systemic change, culminating in his candidacy for State Representative in Tennessee House District 83. Noah strives for a future where all children have equal access to quality education. As a candidate, he leads a movement for change, driven by his unwavering determination and belief in community-driven solutions.

Nate Douglas- FL State House, District 37

Nate is a Gen-Z, first-generation American with a strong background as the son of a public-school teacher and small business owner. In 2020, he made history by becoming the youngest elected official in Orange County when he joined the Soil & Water Conservation District Board. Nate is a passionate climate activist dedicated to creating positive change in his community.

Now, he is aiming to win back House District 37 to help break the Republican supermajority in Tallahassee. His key priorities include holding insurance companies accountable, restoring rights to safe abortion access, and protecting the community from the harmful impacts of human-caused climate change.

Ailina Carona- TN State House, District 57

Ailina, a dedicated community advocate, is running for Tennessee State House in District 57. She resides in Mount Juliet with her husband and three daughters who attend public school. Ailina strongly advocates for strengthening public education by supporting teachers, increasing school funding, and opposing the voucher system that she believes undermines public schools. As a mother with a daughter who has special needs, Ailina brings a personal touch to her advocacy for inclusive education policies. She is a vocal supporter of women’s reproductive rights and health, aiming to ensure access to necessary healthcare services. Ailina’s legislative priorities include advocating for safe gun laws like universal background checks and safe storage regulations to protect communities from gun violence. With a background shaped by her Mexican immigrant father, she is committed to representing all voices in her community, especially those often overlooked. Ailina champions transparency and authenticity in politics, striving to bring these values to the forefront of her district’s representation. Her campaign is focused on creating a community where every citizen is heard, valued, and given equal opportunities to succeed.

Emma Curtis- Urban County Council, District 4, Lexington, KY

Emma, a Lexington native born in 1996, is a dedicated independent filmmaker and issue-based organizer in Kentucky. With a strong work ethic instilled from her upbringing on a family farm, Emma focuses on increasing civic engagement, voter registration, and advocating for fairness for all residents of Kentucky. Seeking to represent District 4 on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council, Emma aims to address key issues such as improving traffic flow and safety on Nicholasville Road, tackling the affordable housing crisis, and enhancing accessibility and transparency in local government. Emma’s commitment to community service is evident in her roles as a voter engagement organizer at Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and her volunteer work with organizations like the ACLU of Kentucky and the Fairness Campaign. Engaged in various community-focused groups like CivicLex and the Lexington Forum, Emma collaborates with others to foster dialogue and strengthen civic participation in Lexington. With a forward-thinking approach, Emma is determined to create a better future for Lexington by ensuring all voices are heard and working collaboratively to move the city forward.

Maria Sinkule- County Board, District 1, Dupage County, IL

Maria, a dedicated school social worker, holds a Doctorate in Social Work from Aurora University. With a strong commitment to improving access to healthcare, housing, and community resources, she is now a candidate for DuPage County Board District 1. Maria is a trailblazer, having been the first Latina to lead the Illinois Association of School Social Workers from 2019–2021. She also has a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in School Social Work from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Beyond her professional accomplishments, Maria previously served as President of her local library board, showcasing her passion for community service. Through her advocacy and leadership roles, Maria continues to be a voice for many individuals in her community.

Jessica Jackson- County Clerk, Berrien County, MI

Jessica, a licensed social worker and mother of two, is a candidate for Berrien County Clerk in Michigan. With a master’s degree in social work and owning a practice in Niles, Michigan, Jessica believes in the power of community building and advocacy. If elected, she plans to prioritize protecting the right to vote by addressing social, financial, and transparency issues in the clerk’s office. Jessica aims to advocate for pay increases for county clerks, collaborate with local libraries for educational presentations, and update voting technology.

Grounded in integrity, empathy, and compassion, Jessica is committed to representing all families in Buchanan, MI. She believes in meeting people where they are, listening to their voices, and incorporating their values into her work at the clerk’s office. Her campaign is centered on the belief that active engagement and ethical action can bring about meaningful change.

Andre Carrol- State House, District 201, PA

Andre, a community leader born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has dedicated his life to public service. Growing up in the northwest section of the city under the guidance of his single-parent grandmother, Andre learned the values of hard work and perseverance from an early age.

After receiving his education in the Philadelphia School District, Andre became a proud graduate of Germantown High School. Equipped with a strong sense of justice and a desire to make a difference, he embarked on a career as an organizer. Andre’s experience in the Philadelphia City Controller’s Office allowed him to fight for diversity within the hedge funds responsible for overseeing the city’s pension fund. Representing and advocating for those whose financial future relied on the office’s decisions, Andre became a powerful voice for equality and fairness.

Over the past six years, Andre has immersed himself in supporting progressive campaigns. In 2019, as the Campaign Manager for Nicolas O’Rourke, he played a pivotal role in the Working Families Party’s strategy to elect third-party candidates in Philadelphia. Building on his success, Andre ran a competitive race and primary in the 201st House District against a long-time incumbent in 2022.

Andre’s dedication to public service continues to flourish. In his most recent role as Senior Strategist on Councilman Isaiah Thomas’s successful Primary reelection campaign for Philadelphia City Council at Large, Andre demonstrated exceptional strategic thinking and leadership. Furthermore, he serves on the advisory board for The New Power Project, an organization that connects aspiring youth politicians to invaluable opportunities and resources. Additionally, Andre sits on the board of The Brothahood Foundation, a mentorship program guiding incarcerated youth facing adult charges.

Andre’s commitment to making a difference extends beyond his professional endeavors. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Temple University while also holding an associate’s degree in Business Administration from Peirce College. With his combined experience, education, and unwavering dedication, Andre continues to be a force of positive change in his community and beyond.

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Run for Something
Run for Something

Recruiting & supporting young people running for office. Building a Democratic bench. Want to help? hello@runforsomething.net