RFS feel-good update (2/27): Our alums have Ron DeSantis' attention
We're off to a great start in Wisconsin
Hi Team - We were actually very proud to see two RFS alums, Luisa Santos and Jennifer Jenkins on Ron DeSantis’ list of school board members he is going to try to beat in 2024:
This week, DeSantis announced the creation of a target list for 2024 to remove the last remaining liberal-leaning members on school boards around the state. Jenkins was on the list.
Jenkins, who ran against and beat then-school board member Tina Descovich in the 2020 election for the District 3 school board seat, has said publicly she would serve only one term. However, DeSantis’ announcement has her “toying” with the idea of running again, she said.
“I just think what an example I can show my daughter of, you know what? Forget it. You want to come at me? I’ll fight you right back,” she said.
Republicans across the country are focusing on school board races so they can ban speech, books and people. That’s why we’re doubling down on our work to recruit young, progressive, diverse candidates for school boards across the country, and will support our alums currently serving.
DeSantis is giving you a great excuse to post a link to runforwhat.net on your social accounts to help us get more candidates in our pipeline. And here’s a tweet you can quote RT:
2023 is just getting started, but we already have more election results to report! In Madison Common Council races, all three of our endorsed candidates on the ballot advanced to the April 4th general election: Alder Juliana Bennett got over 70%, Julia Matthews was the top vote getter in District 12, and Maxwell Laubenstein advanced in District 4. We’ll actually have four candidates on the ballot in Madison in April - MGR Govindarajan is running in District 8 and only had one opponent so there was no primary.
Next Tuesday, March 7th at 8pm ET, we’re hosting See Yourself Running: Realities of Running as a Woman of Color. You can RSVP here.
And as a reminder, you can find the schedule for upcoming RFS webinars on our website.
Three of our alums have been appointed to state legislatures this month!
Ashanti Martínez is set to join the Maryland House of Delegates, pending Gov. Wes Moore’s approval, where he will be the first openly gay member of the body to represent Prince George’s County.
And in Hawaii, Gov. Josh Green appointed Trish La Chica and Kauaʻi County Councilmember Luke Evslin to the state House of Representatives.
In more good Wisconsin news, check out this headline: Wisconsin Supreme Court Primary Election displays historic youth voter turnout.
Early data displays a historic turnout in youth votes for the Wisconsin Supreme Court primary election Tuesday. In the recent primary, there was an unprecedented level of youth voter retention between a general and spring primary election.
In one Madison ward, the voter retention among youth from the general to the spring primary was nearly eight times more than in 2019, according to a press release from NextGen America.
Read this editorial praising Minnesota State Senator Alice Mann’s efforts to secure more funding for a nonprofit that provides safe and affordable medication to those in need and reduces waste by redistributing unused medications.
Dr. Alice Mann, a DFL state senator, said she has fielded too many anguished calls from patients who can't afford to pick up their prescriptions. Providing another option through a program like RoundtableRx is "literally lifesaving for these people."
Mann, not surprisingly, is the lead author of Senate bill (SF 868/HF 1032) to provide more state funding.
Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley, Jr. continues to work with his community on ordinances focused on “changing the way the Memphis Police Department is trained, operates and is reviewed.”
Maryland Delegate Joe Vogel is the lead sponsor of legislation that would require hospitals to test for fentanyl in standard drug screenings: “One recent analysis found that only 5% of emergency room overdose patients are tested for fentanyl, but among those who are tested, more than 41% are positive for the drug.”I’m working with Josh’s loving family, doctors, and opioid response professionals to sponsor HB811 which will help address the gap in fentanyl testing in Maryland hospitals.thebaltimorebanner.comFrom loss to legislation: Fentanyl death prompts push for more testingBaltimore native Josh Siems died from a drug overdose, but was never tested for fentanyl in the hospital, even though loved ones knew he used it. They want to make fentanyl testing a required component of toxicology screens.
Allegheny County Council Member Tom Duerr introduced a bill that would cap contributions to candidates for county offices, and it is supported by fellow alum and County Council Member Bethany Hallam, who chairs the committee where it will be heard.
Kansas State Rep. Rui Xu spoke out against legislation pushed by Attorney General Kris Kobach that could stop immigrants from purchasing homes in the state if they are not yet naturalized as U.S. citizens.
Rep. Rui Xu, a Westwood Democrat and the only Chinese American member of the Kansas House, said that under this bill his own parents would have been blocked from buying their first home in 1996, five years before they became U.S. citizens.
“To actually attack immigrants like this is just a continuation of what we saw throughout COVID of people reacting to what the Chinese government is doing and attacking Chinese Americans or Chinese immigrants to the state who just want to live their lives,” he said.
Oklahoma Rep. Mauree Turner, the first nonbinary Muslim legislator in the country, is featured in a Buzzfeed article about trans and nonbinary people leaving the state after a bill to ban gender-affirming care for young adults was pushed.
Turner says that one of the biggest challenges is their conservative colleagues’ lack of understanding of trans and nonbinary identities.
“Being a trans person and being on this side of the legislature, I’ve never leaned more into community and also simultaneously never felt more alone in my life,” Turner said. They said that the legislature’s current investment in rolling back trans rights distracts from important equity issues facing residents of the state.
In another RFS collab, Ann Arbor City Council Member Ayesha Ghazi Edwin was the lead sponsor, and City Council Member Travis Radina co-sponsored, an ordinance to end discrimination based on the type of government identification card a city resident has. It passed 8-0.“An ID helps you participate in school activities with your children, helps you receive nursing home services, rehabilitation services, housing assistance, food assistance, so it’s a variety of things,” says CM Ghazi Edwin. Thank you @WEMU891! #a2councilbit.lyAnn Arbor adds government IDs to non-discrimination ordinanceAn amendment was made to the city of Ann Arbor’s non-discrimination ordinance. The city council voted unanimously to add valid forms of government-issued IDs to the list. WEMU’s Josh Hakala reports.
St. Petersburg City Council member Richie Floyd’s proposal to pay for travel and transportation-related expenses for city residents seeking abortions passed out of committee last week.
Floyd previously suggested giving $25,000 to the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund, which provides financial assistance for women seeking abortions. On Thursday, he upped that request to $50,000. The committee then specified that the money would strictly go to help women pay for travel out of state for abortions after 15 weeks, at which point Florida prohibits the procedure.
Connecticut State Rep. Gary Turco advocated for a successful push to extend the state’s free school lunch program for all students through the end of the school year.
Two alums are working on easing medical debt burdens for their constituents:
Somerville City Councilor Willie Burnley Jr. was a leader in the effort to spend $200,000 to help clear as much as $4.3 million in medical debt in his city. It could help 5,000 residents.
Utah state Sen. Nate Blouin filed legislation that would allow the state to purchase medical debt of state residents and have it forgiven. Also, watch this local news profile of Sen. Blouin, where he speaks about his first month on the job.
Read about Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon’s work in Tunisia observing the first round of the country’s parliamentary election last year with the Carter Center.
And finally, Alhambra City Councilwoman Sasha Renée Pérez, who was the youngest woman, first LGBTQIA+ person and first renter to be elected to the Alhambra City Council, announced a run for California State Senate!
Here’s a story worth a read out of Los Angeles: Long Invisible In LA Politics, Renters Are Now Winning Major Elections. It features RFS alums L.A. City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martínez and L.A. County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath:
Horvath, the L.A. County supervisor who is also a millennial renter, said that description is out of touch.
“It's pretty frustrating and infuriating to hear somebody characterize millennials and younger as if we're sitting on a pile of money and we're just misspending it,” she said. “That's not what's happening here.”
Addressing his fellow councilmembers, Soto-Martínez urged them to support expanding eviction protections to as many renters as possible, saying he knew the stresses of renting firsthand. Other councilmembers wanted to delay tenants from receiving those protections until the end of a first lease.
Soto-Martínez said, “What we're really talking about, my colleagues, is who does this city represent?”
Something to watch for: There’s a documentary on Malcolm Kenyatta and his historic campaign for U.S. Senate! Take two minutes to watch the trailer if you want to get re-inspired today.
You can find where the documentary will be screened on twitter @KenyattaFilm.
The film will premiere at BFI Flare, London's LGBTQIA film festival, on March 17-18. In the U.S., it will debut at The American Documentary and Animation Film Festival in Palm Springs, California, on March 31.
We’ll leave you today with this clip of Rep. Zooey Zephyr giving a passionate floor speech that once again shows the importance of representation at all levels of government across the country:
See you next week!
Ross and Abe
P.S. We love to see pups volunteering on our candidates’ campaigns!