RFS feel-good update (3/13): Alums profiled in Teen Vogue, POLITICO and more!
Listen to a podcast with a formerly incarcerated alum who now sits on the oversight board for the jail in which she was incarcerated
Hi All - We’re leading off this week with an awesome Q&A with Illinois State Rep. Nabeela Syed in POLITICO: “At just 23 years old, Syed, the daughter of Indian immigrants, became the first Muslim woman to win a General Assembly seat and did so by flipping a district held by two-term GOP state Rep. Chris Bos.”
My lived experiences inform my decision-making process because it continually reminds me that there are marginalized groups that need to be thought of and need to be heard.
Wearing a hijab — I don't look like my colleagues, there's no other woman that wears a hijab, there's no other Muslim woman on the House floor.
Identity is complex. Sometimes people don't even understand my identity. Sometimes people assume I'm Arab, or don't understand that I'm South Asian, but I'm also Muslim and how that factors into who I am.
And there was more exciting news, as Arizona State Rep. Lorena Austin got the Teen Vogue treatment: “Austin, who uses she/they/ella pronouns, became the first Chicanx gender-nonconforming state legislator in the country.”
I want people to know — young people, especially — that they have every right to be here, and they have every right to utilize their voice. I think that's something that I'm seeing [already from Gen Z]. I'm so proud.
I love this younger generation. I think they're badass. They're kind, they're empathetic, they're unapologetic. I'm not going to change the world, I think they are. If I can provide a pathway for them and step back when that time comes, I'm more than happy to do that.
We have more wins to tell you about this week! In Burlington, Vermont, Hannah King won a special election 55%-45% and will join the City Council! She fell just 43 votes shy of winning the seat last year but came back and won this time around: “It took us two tries. We pulled it off on the second one. … I am really excited. It was a lot of work, and it wasn't easy to step up again.”
And in St. Louis, Daniela Velázquez, who is running to join the city’s Board of Aldermen, received the most votes in the first round of voting and heads to the general election with a lot of momentum!
If you listen to just one thing this week, make it this podcast featuring Allegheny County Councilperson Bethany Hallam, who was formerly incarcerated and now sits on the oversight board for the jail in which she was incarcerated.
Take a few minutes to read this op-ed co-authored by New York City Council Member Shahana Hanif about how the city can better support immigrants:
New York is a city built on hope and opportunity. It is inextricable from our identity and essential to our future. But we need to take steps now to ensure that every New Yorker, whether they have been living here for generations or just arrived yesterday, has a path to living with dignity and achieving their dreams.
And as always, our alums have been busy:
Delaware State Sen. Sarah McBride, who was recently profiled in Governing, attended the WorldPride Human Rights Conference in Sydney, speaking out for transgender equality.
Waterloo, Iowa Councilmember Jonathan Grieder spearheaded a ban on conversion therapy in the city.
“It’s a practice done that is abusive,” Grieder said. “And if we can’t see eye-to-eye that we shouldn’t be electrocuting children … then we have a fundamental disagreement about what makes basic human rights.”
Los Angeles City Council members Hugo Soto-Martinez and Nithya Raman are pushing an ordinance that would stop city personnel and resources from being used for federal immigration enforcement, which would codify existing policies.
Ohio State Rep. Michele Grim was featured on NPR last week talking about taking action to improve rail safety after another train derailment in Ohio.
Colorado State Sen. Julie Gonzales is the lead sponsor of legislation that “would mandate that Colorado not recognize criminal prosecutions initiated in other states for people who receive, provide or assist in access to an abortion or gender-affirming care in Colorado.”
Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb stood up for city residents last week by filing a lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia because their cars don’t have "industry-standard features" to prevent thefts. In January, Kias and Hyundais accounted for 62% of vehicle thefts.
West Virginia State Rep. Kayla Young was the lead sponsor of bipartisan legislation that passed the state House that would end child marriage in the state. Unfortunately, the state Senate stopped the bill, but Rep. Young is still fighting:
Colorado State Rep. Brianna Titone, the first transgender lawmaker in the state legislature, spoke out against transphobic comments that were made on the House floor.
And Pennsylvania State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta announced he’s running for Auditor General, a statewide elected office!
RFS’s very own Chief Campaigns Officer, Sara Hadad, was featured in a roundtable about getting more young people to run for office! Listen to her segment on Detroit Today here.
And finally, in elections have consequences news, as you might have seen, the Michigan state House voted to repeal right-to-work, expand background checks for gun purchases, and codify protections for LGBTQIA+ people in state law, while the state Senate voted to repeal an abortion ban that is still in state law (but isn’t enforced). We were proud to see State Rep. Noah Arbit front and center:
And State Rep. Jason Hoskins was also featured in national media after the vote:
"I am so grateful — there are going to be so many people in Michigan that won't have to worry about the discrimination that so many people have faced over the years," Rep. Jason Hoskins (D-Southfield) told reporters following Wednesday's vote.
That’s all for this week!
Ross and Abe
P.S. Well, one more thing. We want to leave you with this bit of inspiration from Makya Little, who is running for the Virginia House of Delegates: