RFS feel-good update (6/21): The GOP machine vs this community
Plus, it's election day in NY tomorrow!
Hi all -
Tuesday is Election Day in New York! We have 49 candidates on the ballot across the state. We don’t expect results immediately (or in many cases, until July or later…) but we’ll keeping a close eye on the polls and will report back as we’ve got the updates.
Just a few stories on our candidates ahead of the big day:
V Magazine calls Chi Ossé the future of Brooklyn’s 36th district.
In 2017, Christophe Marte came just 222 votes short of winning a downtown Manhattan city council seat — he’s back and this time, he’s going to win.
Crystal Hudson could be the first out LGBTQ Black woman on the NY City Council; Marti Allen-Cummins could be the first non-binary city lawmaker. Learn more about the history they’re making.
In Bushwick, Jennifer Gutierrez wants to transform how the police operates in her community: “I envision a City that talks about criminal justice reforms characterized by investments to social services over increased policing. It means ending the school to prison pipeline and reducing the barriers that the poor and people of color have to housing, healthcare, and jobs.”
As part of our Juneteenth celebration over the weekend, we are raising money for 37 Black candidates running for local office. Juneteenth may be over but the work for equity and equality continues. Chip in!
We’re also continuing to raise money for 26 LGBTQIA+ candidates running for local office as part of Pride month. You can donate to that slate here.
At every level of government, the average politician is older than the average American. The average mayor is 56, the average governor 58, and the median school board member 59. Meanwhile, the median American is just 38
Despite their differences in size and scope, these groups all agree on one thing: the importance of young, diverse progressives running for office. “It really matters who’s in the room making these decisions. It is really important that when you are having conversations about housing, you have young people in the room who are either planning to be lifelong renters because they can’t afford to buy a home or are struggling because they had housing issues back in 2008,” Litman said. “Representation is not just a nice thing to have. It has a direct impact on the outcomes of our legislation.”
Morales Rocketto put it more bluntly: “How can you expect a group of 70- and 80-year-olds in the US Senate to really give a shit about student loans when it cost them 10,000 bucks to go to college?”
In RFS alumni updates:
In Minnesota, Rep. Cedrick Frazier is leading negotiations on rethinking policing — informed by his personal experience as a Black man dealing with police officers.
This is a huge deal: CO just signed into law two bills that creates a “Colorado Option” health insurance plan sold by private companies and creates a board that sets limits on prices paid for certain drugs — RFS alum Reps. Dylan Roberts & Iman Jodeh led on the first bill; Sen. Julie Gonzales and Rep. Yadira Caravero led on the latter. Both are revolutionary for improving health care in Colorado.
Yassamin Ansari went from working on climate issues at the U.N. to being the youngest woman ever elected to Phoenix City Council. She explains why in this awesome Q&A: “[At] these climate summits that I worked on, the entire purpose was to push cities around the U.S. and the world to make commitments to renewable energy policies, transportation policies, EVs, etc. I honestly got tired of being in the position of trying to persuade other people to take the climate crisis seriously. I realized that it really can be one person or two people leading within a local elected body that can change things.”
CO Rep. Brianna Titone is being praised for her bipartisanship work on a bill to make the online process to find & comment on public rules more user-friendly — it’s particularly surprising since her GOP counterpart is “known for his litany of offensive comments such as comparing a salon owner defying COVID rules to Rosa Parks, echoing replacement theory and eugenics rhetoric, and labeling those who focus on the implications of racial identity as ‘obsessives.’”
Bethany Hallam’s personal experience in as an addict who spent five months in county jail has directly informed her drive to to push for reform in the jail system she now oversees as Allegheny County Councilwoman.
GA Rep. Marvin Lim made history when he became the state’s first Filipino-American legislator; his personal experience as a victim of voter suppression efforts directly informs his passion for making sure all marginalized communities have access to the polls.
Amazing work in Oklahoma City.
PA Rep. Jessica Benham is calling out a new GOP-proposed law that would make it illegal for any employer to require its workers to be vaccinated (for anything, not just COVID.) It’s dangerous!
Rep. Benham and Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, both openly LGBTQ+, are fighting for the Fairness Act, an equal protection law in PA that the GOP is refusing to vote on.
Texas Monthly named RFS alum James Talarico and Jessica Gonzalez as some of the best legislators of 2021. We love to see it.
Rep. Ranjeev Puri is helping lead on bipartisan legislation in Michigan that would expand access to affordable childcare — he noted he nearly missed the press conference on the work because of childcare issues himself.
IL Sen. Robert Peters introduced and passed a bill to decriminalize HIV — it will transform lives.
A bench-watch update!
FL. Rep Michele Rayner has launched her campaign to fill Charlie Crist’s U.S. House seat in St. Petersburg - Michele was the first LGBTQ Black woman to win a seat in the FL state house.
If all the good outcomes of this community doesn’t inspire you, some reminders of the GOP’s absolute bullshit that should infuriate you:
The push against teaching Critical Race Theory (or, more broadly, the racist history of America) in schools is not an accident. It’s the intended outcome of a nationwide network of conservative activists, think tanks, law firms, and state/national groups that are coordinating school board meeting protests, recall campaigns (including against Ian Serotkin, RFS alum in Loudon County, VA). “As former Trump adviser Steve Bannon put it on his podcast in May: “The path to save the nation is very simple — it’s going to go through the school boards.””
I want to be very clear here: The GOP is engaging on seemingly cultural issues at the local level because they know that’s how they keep the momentum going post-Trump. They also understand that education is the foundation of it all - teaching students a particular version of history breeds a particular kind of (white grievance-y GOP) voter.
There are few other national organizations who engage in school board races except for us. We have to keep fighting and winning, and defending our values. Your support matters here.
I pulled together a thread on some of the RFS alum who are pushing back against the whitewashing of history — take a look.
Republican state and county officials are stripping local election authorities of their power — especially when those election authorities are Democrats and/or people of color. 2021 + 2022 are our last chances to try and win back some of these offices that determine structural power.
And then there’s this.
…said another way:
Two events to put on your radar:
Thursday, June 24th at 8pm ET: Unapologetically Progressive & Proud - a conversation with five amazing LGBTQIA+ candidates for local office, including Dr. Tyler Titus (Erie County Executive, PA), Liliana Bakhtiari (Atlanta City Council), Christopher Coburn (Bozeman City Commission, MT), Nick Kor (Minneapolis City Council), and Andrew Grant Houston (Seattle Mayor), moderated by AZ Rep. Andrés Cano.
Wednesday, June 30th, 8pm ET/5pm PT: See Yourself Running, Pride edition — in partnership with Victory Fund, we’re hosting a free convo for all LGBTQ+ community members considering running for office.
This week on the Run for Something podcast, available wherever you get your shows: Ricky Hurtado made history in 2020: He became the first Latinx leader in the NC state house, and was one of the rare Democrats anywhere to flip a state legislative seat red to blue. His story is both incredibly special and deeply common -- Ricky grew up in an immigrant household, was the first generation in his family to go to college, went to work in education, and decided to run because he felt like the students he was working with were being heard in government. His campaign made a lot of news over the last year; listen in to understand the story behind the headlines. You can find Ricky on any social media platform @RickyHurtadoNC.
Thank you for making this possible. We’re nearly halfway through 2021 (isn’t that wild!?!) and we’re running full steam ahead into an amazing summer with an incredible community. You’re a star.