Young Elected Program

PFAWF Celebrates Confirmation of Julián Castro as U.S. HUD Secretary

Andrew Gillum is the Director of Youth Leadership Programs at  People For the American Way Foundation.

Julián Castro, current mayor of San Antonio, was just confirmed in the Senate by a 71-26 vote to lead the Housing and Urban Development Department. Castro, one of the earliest members of People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network, is the first to become a Cabinet member.

I remember meeting Julián at our very first YEO convening in 2006, and being impressed with his passion to serve and better his community in Texas. We are incredibly proud of Julián and excited to see what he’ll accomplish in this new position. His proven leadership in fostering urban revitalization and economic growth make him a natural fit for this position, where he will be able to combat homelessness and help secure access to affordable, quality housing for more Americans.

Julián’s confirmation yesterday demonstrates how supporting young elected officials in our movement can reap tremendous results. I often say that YEOs are the state and local leaders of today as well as the national leaders of tomorrow. While Julián will be the first (former) YEO member to serve in a cabinet level post, I am sure he won’t be the last.

PFAW Foundation

PFAW Action Fund Endorses Young Progressive Candidates in Michigan

People For the American Way Action Fund today endorsed a slate of young progressive candidates running for the Michigan State Legislature. The endorsements are part of PFAW Action Fund’s Young Elected Progressives (YEP) program that supports progressive candidates age 35 and younger. The Michigan candidates endorsed today are a diverse mix of progressive leaders who are positioned to make Michigan’s legislature be more inclusive and accountable.

“These candidates are the best and brightest young progressive candidates running for the legislature in Michigan,” said PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager. “They are people-oriented folks from all walks of life who will fight for social, economic, and environmental justice, and promote equality for all. Their leadership in their communities demonstrates a progressive vision that will benefit all Michiganders.”

People For the American Way Action Fund is proud to endorse the following Michigan YEP candidates for 2014:

•         Stephanie Chang – MI House District 6
•         Jon Hoadley – MI House District 60
•         David Knezek – MI Senate District 5
•         Kristy Pagan – MI House District 21
•         Rebecca Thompson – MI District 1
•         Robert Wittenberg – MI House District 27

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People For the American Way Action Fund Endorses Young Progressive Candidates in Michigan

People For the American Way Action Fund today announced its endorsements of a slate of young progressive candidates running for the Michigan State Legislature. The endorsees include a diverse mix of 35-and-younger candidates running for the Michigan state House of Representatives and state Senate, representing a new generation of progressive leaders who will put Michigan’s legislature back-on-track towards a common sense, inclusive, accountable public policy agenda for the state’s future. Their leadership represents a progressive vision that will benefit all Michiganders as they fight for social, economic, environmental justice and equality for all.

The endorsements are part of People For the American Way Action Fund’s Young Elected Progressives (YEP) program. YEP evaluates and endorses young progressive candidates age 35-and-younger in their bids for elected office around the U.S. at all levels.

People For the American Way Action Fund is proud to endorse these Michigan YEP candidates for 2014:

Stephanie Chang – MI House District 6

Running for Michigan’s House of Representatives District 6, Stephanie Chang is a Michigander whose dedication to the community has benefited many. Chang has worked around the state advocating for Affirmative Action, serving as a mentor for Detroit Asian Youth Project, and promoting a fair justice system. Chang’s knowledge and breadth of experience in Michigan make her an important leader for the state as she fights for social, economic, and environmental justice. Visit Stephanie’s page for more details.

Jon Hoadley – MI House District 60

Jon Hoadley is the clear choice to represent Michigan’s 60th District in the state House of Representatives. Hoadley, a small business owner and member of several advocacy organizations in Kalamazoo, is deeply ingrained and in tune with the needs of his community, which makes him the ideal representative. He has already worked to better Kalamazoo advocating for full LGBTQ equality, creating strong and sustainable public schools, and protecting the environment. Visit Jon’s page for more details.

David Knezek – MI Senate District 5

David Knezek is running for Michigan state Senate’s 5th District and has proven that he is the ideal candidate for the position. Knezek is a true leader, having been promoted to the rank of Sergeant during his time in the U.S. Marine Corps. At the University of Michigan-Dearborn, he was elected Student Government President, and in his senior year of college he was elected to be a Michigan state representative. Knezek has proven that he will advocate for his community and improve education, public safety, and job opportunities for Michigan citizens. Visit David’s page for more details.

Kristy Pagan – MI House District 21

Born and bred in Michigan, Kristy Pagan is the ideal candidate for the 21st District of Michigan’s state House of Representatives. She has worked in Washington, D.C. as a legislative aide and a national grassroots organizer. Her determination to serve coupled with her knowledge of and dedication to Michigan will serve the state well. Pagan is a true progressive, and has both the resolve and the passion to reform Michigan’s educational system, advocate for women and children, and improve job growth. Visit Kristy's page for more details.

Rebecca Thompson – MI District 1

Rebecca Thompson is running for election to the 1st District of the Michigan state House of Representatives. Thompson was born and raised in Detroit, and overcame experiences with poverty and homelessness to become a leader in the community. She has worked tirelessly to better Detroit for everyone, using her own experiences to positively impact those around her. Thompson is passionate about affordable education, improving safety, protecting women’s rights, and advocating for her community. Visit Rebecca's page for more details.

Robert Wittenberg – MI House District 27
                                                                                                                     
Robert Wittenberg is running to represent District 27 in the Michigan state House of Representatives. After being inspired by his parents’ and brothers’ work, he is determined to follow in their footsteps and serve his community. As a public servant, he advocates for full equality for the LGBTQ community, increased public transportation, and access to healthcare for all. Visit Robert's page for more details.

PFAW

Young Elected Progressives Program 2012 Endorsees

People For's Young Elected Progressives program seeks out and supports young leaders - 35 and younger - running for office at the state and local level. These young leaders will be the backbone of the progressive movement for years to come. Among them are tomorrow's strong progressive candidates for U.S. House, Senate and maybe even the White House.

Below find a list of all the young candidates for state and local office we are supporting this year and click the links to their web sites to find out more and to support them.

Here are 19 candidates we've designated as "On the Way" -- they are in races we've identified as particularly important and could use your support. Click their image or find them under their state in the longer list below to find out more.

Mach
Stefanie Mach, AZ House
Hansen
Steve Hansen, Sacramento, CA City Council
Petterson
Brittany Petterson, CO House
Lesser
Matthew Lesser, CT House
Townsend
Bryan Townsend, DE Senate
Alvarez
John Alvarez, FL House
Kendrick
Dar'shun Kendrick, GA House
Buhl
Angie Buhl, SD Senate
Moonen
Matt Moonen, ME House
McLean
Andrew McLean, ME House
Beck
Henry Beck, ME House
Candelaria
Jacob Candelaria, NM Senate
VanMeter
Jeremy VanMeter, OH House
Fagan
Shemia Fagan, OR House
Sylianteng
Will Sylianteng, PA House
Devine
Kelly Devine, PA House
  Habib
Cyrus Habib, WA House
Frame
Noel Christina Frama, WA House
 

ARIZONA

Ed Ableser, running for state Senate in Arizona’s 23rd District – Ableser is currently serving as the 17th district’s representative, and is running in the newly formed 23rd Senate district this year.  In addition, Ableser works as a mental health counselor for the public school system in Tempe and is the Democratic Party committeeperson. As a representative, he has fought hard against public education cuts and hopes to build an equitable public education program. http://www.edableser.com/about-ed/

Stefanie Mach, running for state House in Arizona’s 10th District – After earning her master’s degree in public policy from Brown University, she started her own business consulting with non-profit organizations.  Mach will fight to improve the education system in Arizona, as well as help create a path to boost the economy and create more jobs. She has been endorsed by multiple other organizations, including Arizona’s List, a network supporting pro-choice women. http://www.stefaniemach.com/

Emily Verdugo, running for state House in Arizona’s 8th District – Verdugo previously served on the Coolidge City Council and volunteers for a variety of community service organizations, including Latino Family Initiative, the American Red Cross, and the Arizona Rural Human Services Network. Verdugo has vowed to fight for affordable and accessible healthcare and education. http://www.emilyverdugo.com/

Juan Mendez, running for election to state House in Arizona’s 26th District – Mendez serves on the City of Phoenix Human Services Advisory Committee and manages the nonprofit Community Voice Mail, an organization that provides communication tools (e.g., a local phone number and voicemail) to the poor. Mendez supports full equality for LGBT persons and will be an able progressive advocate once elected. http://www.mendezforaz.com/

CALIFORNIA

Todd Gloria, incumbent San Diego City Councilman for California’s 3rd District -- He was first elected to the council in 2008 and is a third generation resident to the San Diego district. Gloria is the chair of the Budget and Finance Committee and serves on several other committees. As a representative of the LGBT community in San Diego, he received an endorsement from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and works hard to ensure the rights of all people.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Todd-Gloria/6430579238

Ben Allen, running for reelection for president of the Santa Monica, CA School Board – Allen is an adjunct professor at UCLA. He was unanimously voted in as president by his fellow school board members. He is fighting to receive more government funding from the state and working to improve race relations between the students within the Santa Monica and Malibu-area schools. http://benallen.nationbuilder.com/about_ben

Steve Hansen, running for Sacramento, CA City Council -- Hansen previously worked with the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, a non-profit focused on improving the community. With the Partnership, he spearheaded an initiative to create the Downtown Sacramento Foundation, supporting arts and cultural activities and working to reduce homelessness. More info on Hansen can be found here.

Evan Low, running for California State Assembly -- In his current role on the Campbell City Council, Low has worked to balance the budget without cutting vital services. He has extensive experience serving the community which has given him a good understanding of the issues facing local residents and small business owners. He made history by becoming Campbell’s youngest ever, first Asian American, and first openly gay councilmember. For more information on Low, click here.

Kalen Gallagher, running for a seat on the Campbell Union High School District Board -- Kalen taught 7th and 8th grade Social Studies in East San Jose, where he encouraged students to develop the skills they need to succeed and helped them achieve excellent standardized test scores. Last fall he joined an education startup that develops free technology for teachers. He is co-director of New Leaders Council, which trains civic-minded young professionals to make positive changes in their communities. Learn more about Gallagher here.

Chris Clark, running for a seat on Mountain View’s City Council – Previously serving on Mountain View’s Environmental Planning Commission and Community Healthy Awareness Council, at age 25 Clark will be one of the youngest politicians in the country if elected. Clark hopes to represent the 18-36 year old demographic group, a constituency in Mountain View that has lacked representation. http://www.electchrisclark.org/

Matt Haney, running for a seat on San Francisco’s Board of Education – Haney has a J.D. from Stanford Law School with an emphasis on education law, was a member of State Senator Joe Simitian’s education policy team, and currently serves as the Executive Director of the University of California Student Association.  Haney also serves on the SFUSD Public Education Enrichment Fund Advisory Committee, where he advises the district on where to spend funds on a variety of educational needs. http://www.haneyforschoolboard.com/

Wendy Ho, running to become an Evergreen Community College District Trustee – A San Jose native, Ho was a legislative fellow for Congressman Mike Honda and currently serves as the Advocacy & Public Policy Manager at United Silicon Valley and is on the San Jose Human Rights Commission. Ho has been dedicated to public service for over ten years. http://www.facebook.com/wendyhofortrustee

Lawrence Robinson, running for election to Roosevelt, California’s School Board – An attorney for the Democratic Caucus in Arizona’s House of Representatives, Robinson formerly worked for the Brooklyn Family Defense Project (BFDP), an organization dedicated to providing quality legal representation to low-income families. Robinson has vowed to strengthen anti-bullying measures and promote afterschool programs. http://www.robinsonforroosevelt.com/

COLORADO

Brittany Pettersen, running for state House in Colorado’s 28th District – Petterson has served as the Denver Organizing Director for New Era, a non-profit dedicated to engaging youth in government and politics. She is a strong supporter of LGBT rights as well as a woman’s right to choose. Pettersen also believes in fighting voter suppression to protect the right of every citizen to have their voice heard at the ballot box. http://brittanypettersen.com/

LeRoy Garcia, running for state House in Colorado’s 46th District – Garcia currently serves on the Pueblo City Council, representing the 3rd District. Garcia is a Marine Corps veteran and teaches at Pueblo Community College. Garcia will fight for the expansion of public education funding for both K-12 and higher education, as well as protecting the rights of every individual. http://leroygarcia.wordpress.com/

Jessica Garrow, running for a seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents -- Currently, Garrow serves as the Long Range Planner for the city of Aspen. Garrow graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder and believes in higher education’s power to positively affect communities and wants to help facilitate that process as a member of the Board of Regents. http://jessicagarrow.com/

Crisanta Duran, running for reelection to the state House in Colorado’s 5th District -- Duran has been a member of the Judiciary, Finance, State Veterans & Military Affairs and Joint Council committees while serving in the state legislature. Additionally she was recognized in a Denver Post article entitled “Women Who Broke Political Barriers.” She has proven herself to be a progressive champion and fights hard for the rights of all Coloradans. http://www.duranforcolorado.com/index.html

Dominick Moreno, running for state House in Colorado’s 32nd District – Raised in a working class family, Moreno worked hard and earned a scholarship to Georgetown University. During college Moreno worked to help others in his community, including tutoring children in low-income schools during college. He was elected the youngest city councilmember ever in Commerce City. There he earned the respect of his colleagues and was promoted to Mayor Pro Tem. Read more about Moreno here.

Jessie Ulibarri, running for state Senate in Colorado’s 21st District – Coming from a working class background, Ulibarri worked three jobs while attending college and ultimately became the first member of his family to receive a bachelor’s degree. Ulibarri has since been a grassroots activist for over a decade, advocating initiatives that help Latinos, working people, and young people. Ulibarri previously served as the ACLU of Colorado’s Public Policy Director. http://jessieforcolorado.com/

CONNECTICUT

Matthew Lesser, running for reelection to the state House in Connecticut’s 100th District – First elected in 2010, over the past two years Lesser has passed legislation to help the middle class. Lesser believes in the value of a strong public education and has fought hard for it in Connecticut. He also believes that every person is entitled to the same rights and freedoms and hopes to make this a reality in the lives of all people in Connecticut. http://www.mattlesser.com/index.php

James Albis, running for reelection to Connecticut’s state House in the 99th District – Albis serves on the Judiciary, Banks, and Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committees. He has been a strong voice for seniors in the community and has fought to improve lives of the middle class through his work as a Community Development Coordinator and legislator. https://twitter.com/RepAlbis

DELAWARE

Bryan Townsend, running for state Senate in Delaware’s 11th District – Townsend has been a volunteer with Special Olympics Delaware for the past thirteen years and is a “big brother” with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware. He hopes to greatly improve the public education system in the Newark/Bear community as well as to create jobs through construction projects. Townsend strives to fight for the voices of those in the community that are not often heard. http://bryan2012.com/

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Nicole Goines, running for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Washington, D.C. – At 18 years old, Goines is an extremely passionate and driven individual with a promising political career. Goines will ably serve the 5C-05 district upon being elected and supports a variety of progressive causes, including LGBT equality, comprehensive immigration reform, and restricting how much corporate money can be spent in elections. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nicole-Goines/190470871073002

FLORIDA

Dwight Bullard, running for state Senate in Florida’s 39th District -- Bullard is the democratic ranking member in the education committee and the preK-12 education policy committee. Bullard has received numerous awards for his work – most recently, the Young Elected Officials Network’s Barbara Jordan Leadership Award. Bullard also sponsored the Florida DREAM Act, which creates a pathway for young immigrants to access education. http://www.dwightbullard.com/

Leo Cruz, running for reelection to the state Senate in Florida’s 10th District – Cruz is a progressive community organizer and an Iraqi War veteran. He is running against incumbent Sen. David Simmons, who helped write the “Stand Your Ground” law in the district where Trayvon Martin was killed. Cruz plans on working to revitalize public education in the area as well as fight for the civil rights of all Floridians. http://www.facebook.com/voteleocruz

Ricardo Rangel, running for state House in Florida’s 43rd District – Rangel is a retired Army veteran and has been active in politics for several years after he finished active duty. In 2003 he was selected as the “Florida Young Democrat of the Year” and was awarded the “Emerging Leaders Award” by the Central Brevard NAACP. www.ricardorangel.us

Andrew Gillum, running for reelection to the Tallahassee City Commission – Gillum – who is the National Director of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network – was first elected to the Tallahassee City Commission in 2003. Andrew has been a leading progressive voice, fighting for working families and small businesses, forming community partnerships, and improving youth academic, personal, and professional development. For more information on Gillum, click here and here.

John Alvarez, running for state House in Florida’s 53rd District – Alvarez is an advocate for healthcare, the environment, job creation, education, and equal rights – a platform he summarizes as “putting people first.” Alvarez is also an outspoken opponent of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and supporter of abolishing corporate personhood. Learn more here, and be sure to support Alvarez.   

Joe Saunders, running for state House in Florida’s 49th District – A native Floridian, Saunders has extensive experience serving his community. He has worked for Equality Florida, a statewide group dedicated to advocating for LGBT rights, with Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, and has served on the Orange County Democratic Party Executive Committee. If elected Saunders promises to continue his fight to end discrimination across Florida. http://www.votejoesaunders.com/

GEORGIA

Dar’shun Kendrick, running for reelection to state House in Georgia’s 93rd District -- First elected in 2010, Representative Kendrick is the only freshman to co-chair a committee, which she does for the Economic Security and Development Committee. Additionally, she serves on the Children and Youth, Interstate Cooperation and Special Rules Committees. She has recently received endorsements from Planned Parenthood and Georgia’s WIN List. http://kendrickforgeorgia.smartintuitionsmp.com/

J. Craig Gordon, running for reelection to state House in Georgia’s 162nd District – This past legislative session, Gordon served on the Economic Development and Tourism, Health and Human Services, Retirement, and Special Rules Committees. He strongly believes in re-evaluating the education system, revitalizing public education in Georgia, and fighting to ensure the rights of every Georgian. http://www.votejcraig.com/

Yasmin Neal, running for reelection to state House in Georgia’s 75th District – Elected at age 25, Neal is the youngest member of the Georgia House of Representatives. Neal is currently a police officer at the Clayton County Police Department and was a detective in the major felony unit. She is a member of affiliate PFAW Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network (YEO). She also has received endorsements from Georgia’s WIN List, Planned Parenthood, and more. http://yasminneal.com/

IDAHO

Nate Murphy, running for state House in Idaho’s 29A District – Elected to the 25th District’s school board at age 21, Murphy believes in the importance of education as both an institution and as an economic issue and hopes to improve the public education system. He also will fight for civil rights and for the creation of jobs in Idaho. http://www.natemurphy.org/

KANSAS

Sean Gatewood, running for reelection to state House in Kansas’ 50th District – Gatewood is currently the ranking member of the Children and Families Committee, while also serving on both the Taxation and Federal & State Affairs Committees. He is committed to helping improve the job market and the economy through increasing funding for public education and for clean environment jobs. http://seangatewood.com/issues.html

MASSACHUSETTS

Sean Garballey, running for reelection to state House in Massachusetts’ 23rd District – Garballey has been a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 2008, having previously served on the Arlington School Committee from 2005 to 2008. He is currently the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws as well as a member of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting and the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. http://garballey.com/

Carl Sciortino, running for reelection to state House in Massachusetts’ 34th District – A founding member of affiliate PFAW Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network for which he served as State Director for two terms,  Sciortino has also been named “Best of the New” by Boston Globe Magazine and “Legislator of the Year” by the National Association of Social Workers. He is one of the few LGBT members in the Massachusetts state legislature and has proved to be a strong defender of social and economic justice. http://www.electcarl.org/

MAINE

Henry Beck, running for reelection to state House in Maine’s 76th District – Beck just finished his first term in the Maine House of Representatives after serving on the Waterville City Council from 2006-2009. Beck is one of the strongest advocates for health insurance reform in Maine and has served on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee. Beck has also fought to improve the public education system in Maine and to prevent the layoffs of teachers. http://www.henrybeck.com/

Adam Goode, running for reelection to the state House in Maine’s 15th District – Goode currently serves on the Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Services and is a member of the Worker Rights Board of Eastern Maine. He has proven to be a leader in engaging Mainers in the public decision-making process as well as in fighting for health care reform. http://penobscotdems.com/?p=316

Matt Moonen, running for state House in Maine’s 118th District – Moonen was the Political Director for Equality Maine and played a vital role in the successful passage of the 2009 marriage equality bill. Prior to working with Equality Maine, he worked for MassEquality and on the Fair Wisconsin campaign to defeat a discriminatory marriage amendment. He has also worked with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections to try and reduce the influence of big money in government. http://www.mattmoonen.com/

Andrew McLean, running for state House in Maine’s 129th District – McLean has worked as a Resident Director at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. McLean is a progressive champion and has been endorsed by The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. McLean will be a leader on education and economic opportunity for Gorham and for Maine as a whole. http://www.facebook.com/McLeanforGorham

Diane Russell, running for reelection to the state House in Maine’s 120th District – Russell serves on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and is a proven progressive champion advocating for working families and the immigrant community of Maine. She is a founding board member of the Opportunity Maine Campaign which fights to make college more affordable. http://www.dianemrussell.com/

Justin Chenette, running for state House in Maine’s 134th District – Chenette, who works as a producer at Fox 23’s “Good Day Maine” program, will be the youngest member of the state legislature if elected. Chenette served as an ambassador and public relations director for Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership from 2007-2011, earning a Presidential Service Award from President Obama in 2008 in recognition of his work. http://www.justinforsaco.com/

MICHIGAN

Rashida Tlaib, running for reelection to state House in Michigan’s 12th District – In her first term she was appointed to the House Appropriations Committee and was also named the Minority Vice Chair of Judiciary and Department of Community Health Subcommittees. She also made history by being named the first female Muslim elected to the Michigan legislature and the second ever in the country. http://rashida4rep.com/

Adam Lawrence, running for state House in Michigan’s 99th District – Lawrence serves as a community organizer and recently received his master’s degree from Central Michigan University. He hopes to greatly improve public education funding and help veterans and seniors receive benefits to which they are entitled. https://foursquare.com/votelawrence99

Brian McGrain, running for reelection to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners – Originally elected in 2008 and reelected in 2010, McGrain serves as the associate director of Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), a nonprofit organization committed to rebuilding neighborhoods. He serves on the Board’s Human Services and Finance Committees as well as on the City of Lansing’s Board of Zoning Appeals. http://brianmcgrain.com/index.html

MINNESOTA

Zachary Dorholt, running for state House in Minnesota’s 14B District – Dorholt is currently the Treasurer for the Central Minnesota Sustainability Project – a non-profit organization that promotes local sustainable food production and community building. A native Minnesotan, Dorholt was formerly the chairperson of State Representative Larry Haws’ Campaign Committee. Dorholt has been a consistent advocate for progressive ideals and will continue to advocate for them upon being elected. http://www.zacharydorholt.com/index.php?cID=1

MONTANA

Bryce Bennett, running for reelection to the state House in Montana’s 92nd District – Originally elected in 2010, Bennett currently works for Forward Montana, a non-profit organization that engages young Montanans in the political process. Bennett was appointed to the Education and State Administration Committees and is also the first openly gay man to serve in the Montana legislature. http://www.bennettforhouse.com/

NEVADA

Lucy Flores, running for reelection to the state House in Nevada’s 28th District – Flores was appointed to the Nevada Commission on Minority Affairs in 2008, serving her community ably in this position. Flores subsequently ran for state house in Nevada’s 28th District in 2010, joining a group of leaders who became the first ever Hispanic women to join the Nevada Assembly. Flores currently serves as Vice Chair of the Legislative Operations and Elections Committee and as a member of the Education, Government Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Taxation Committee. http://www.lucyflores.com/

Teresa Benitez-Thompson, running for reelection to state House in Nevada’s 27th District – First elected in 2010, Benitez-Thompson formerly worked as both an adoption and hospice social worker. During the 2011-2012 legislative session, Benitez-Thompson served on the Health and Human Services and Government Affairs committees. Benitez-Thompson is dedicated to protecting the rights of the most vulnerable, including seniors, children, the poor, and persons with disabilities. http://www.electteresa.com/

NEW MEXICO

Tim Keller, running for reelection to the state Senate in New Mexico’s 17th District – Before his election to the State Senate, he co-founded Data Digital Divide, an organization which helps land mine victims and other disadvantaged persons in Cambodia. Keller has also served on the boards of the Open Hands Foundation, Albuquerque Southeast Team for Entrepreneur Development, and several others. He has also received the New Mexico “Bipartisan Rising Star,” “40 under 40,” and “Defender of Justice” awards, among others. http://timkellerfornewmexico.com/

Jacob Candelaria, running for state Senate in New Mexico’s 26th District – Candelaria is currently the director of Equality New Mexico – a statewide advocacy organization that promotes the civil liberties of LGBT persons – and is running for a seat in New Mexico’s 46th District. A former leadership analyst for Speaker of the New Mexico House Ben Lujan and program evaluator for the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, Candelaria will be the first openly gay member of the New Mexico state legislature. Candelaria has vowed to promote LGBT rights, adequately fund education, and work toward equitable access to healthcare for all persons. http://jacobcandelaria.com/

NEW YORK

Micah Z. Kellner, running for reelection to the state House in New York’s 76th District – Kellner was first elected to the Assembly in 2007 in a special election to replace Alexander Grannis in the 65th District. Kellner is a progressive champion who has spearheaded efforts for marriage equality and worked to support the rights of persons with disabilities, reproductive rights, and fairer government funding for New York City’s public schools. http://www.micahkellner.net/

Andrew Gounardes, running for state Senate in New York’s 22nd District – Gounardes currently serves as an attorney for the Citizens Committee for New York City, a non-profit that gives grants to community groups improving their neighborhood, and as a member of Community Board 10. Gounardes hopes to help reform public education in order to provide students with access to the best education possible. He will strive to “finally reform campaign finance” and protect the integrity of our democracy. http://www.andrewgounardes.com/

NORTH CAROLINA

Danielle Adams, running for reelection as the Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor in Durham – Adams previously won 46% of the vote in a three-way race. Adams is extremely passionate about her position and hopes to move environmental and agricultural issues to the forefront of people’s minds. http://c3.thevoterguide.org/v/nccve12/race-detail.do?id=10925825

NORTH DAKOTA

Corey Mock, running for reelection to state House in North Dakota’s 42nd District – In addition to serving in the state House, Mock serves as the executive director of Third Street Clinic, a non-profit organization that provides access to healthcare for low-income residents of Grand Forks and Polk counties. Mock served on the Education and Political Subdivisions committees in the 2011-2012 legislative session. http://coreymock.com/

OHIO

Jeremy VanMeter, running for state House in Ohio’s 78th District – VanMeter has served on the board of the Berne Union Local School District and on the Fairfield County Education Service Center governing board, where he was recently named Board President. VanMeter hopes to establish public education reform and to provide the public school systems in Ohio with more funding and “elimination of wasteful spending on the for-profit charter schools.” http://jeremyvanmeter.com/

Michael Stinziano, running for reelection to the state House in Ohio’s 18th District – Stinziano is a board member for several organizations, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus, and serves as chairperson of the Columbus Bar Association’s Government Agencies Committee. He also is a member of the Insurance, Judiciary and Ethics, Public Utilities, and State Government and Elections Committees in the legislature. http://michaelstinziano.com

Nicholas Celebrezze, running for state House in Ohio’s 15th District – Celebrezze has served on the Parma City Council for the past six years and was selected to replace State Rep. Timothy DeGeeter in January. While in Columbus, he has served on the Local Government and Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committees. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nicholas-J-Celebrezze-for-State-Representative/221279484599536

Ryan Jolley, running for state House in Ohio’s 19th District – Jolley was first elected to the Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education at age 18 and is currently a member of the city council as well as a member of the council’s finance committee. As a member of the House, Jolley will fight for “freedom, opportunity, and security for all Ohioans.” http://www.ryanpjolley.com/about-ryan.html

Steve Newsome, running for state House in Ohio’s 30th District – Newsome endorses an impressive array of progressive policies that will move the nation forward. Newsome has stated that if elected, he will work to close tax loopholes that corporations exploit to avoid paying their fair share and invest significantly in alternate forms of energy that will both secure energy independence for the nation and produce manufacturing jobs for Ohio.  Newsome also advocates for investing in jobs training programs for Ohioans. http://www.stevenewsome.com/home.html

OREGON

Shemia Fagan, running for reelection to the state House in Oregon’s 51st District – Fagan serves her community by working as a volunteer on a local school board and by regularly doing pro bono legal work for struggling Oregonians. Fagan has vowed to preserve K-12 funding and jobs training programs for veterans and unemployed persons. She also seeks to hold corporations accountable by protecting consumers’ rights. Fagan will continue to be a staunch advocate for progressive ideals if reelected. http://shemiafagan.com/

PENNSYLVANIA

Will Sylianteng, running for state House in Pennsylvania’s 151st District – Sylianteng currently practices law in Blue Bell, PA and has vice-chaired the Montgomery County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Committee and served on its Diversity Committee. Sylianteng has also been named a “SuperLawyer Rising Star” and “Pennsylvania Diversity Attorney of the Year.” He advocates for improving public education and investing in infrastructure to help create jobs and improve the community. http://vote-will.com/home

Bret Binder, running for state House in Pennsylvania’s 156th District – Binder serves as a small business owner of a gourmet rice pudding emporium. Binder will fight against House Bill 934, a bill that disenfranchises up to 700,000 Pennsylvanians based on lack of identification, as well as advocating to increase the importance of public education in the eyes of the Pennsylvania legislature. http://bretbinderforpa.com/index.htm

Erin Molchany, running for state House in Pennsylvania’s 22nd District – Molchany began serving her community in the Emergency Services Department of the Red Cross.  She parlayed this experience into a position at the Coro Center for Public Leadership, where she led the Emerging Leaders in Public Affairs and Women in Leadership programs. More recently, Molchany was elected vice president of the board of directors for the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation, where she served her community by promoting economic development and public safety. http://erinmolchany.com/

Sarah Speed, running for state House in Pennsylvania’s 47th District – A licensed attorney, Speed is currently the Animal Law Legislative Chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and is the secretary of the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team. Speed is also a volunteer firefighter for York County. Upon election, she plans to promote the ability of women and children to access healthcare services. http://speed4pahouse.com/

Kelly Devine, running for state House in Pennsylvania’s 150th District – Devine is a former journalist who served as president of the Montgomery County Young Democrats for the past two years and currently serves on their Executive Committee. Devine has vowed to ramp up investment in infrastructure, protect the environment, and help keep college affordable. http://www.votedevine.com/

SOUTH CAROLINA

Henri Thompson, running for state Senate in South Carolina’s 12th District – Born and raised in South Carolina, Thompson was a community organizer in Baltimore and served as the associate director of community affairs at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Thompson also has experience within the political system, having served as a staff member in U.S. Representative James Clyburn’s Washington office, the only Democrat in the South Carolina Congressional delegation. http://www.henrithompson.com/

SOUTH DAKOTA

Angie Buhl, running for reelection to the state Senate in South Dakota’s 15th District -- First elected in 2010 at the age of 25, Buhl is the youngest woman ever to serve in South Dakota’s senate. Buhl has already risen to the position of chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus. She is a leader on women’s rights in South Dakota. Buhl has also served on the board of Equality South Dakota and worked with South Dakotans Against Discrimination and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. http://angiebuhl.com/

Kevin Killer, running for reelection to the state House in South Dakota’s 27th District – Killer was first elected in 2010 and has been a leader for equal rights, especially for Native Americans, while in office. This past legislative session, Killer served on both the Education and Judiciary Committees. He sponsored a bill that would allow tribal IDs to be recognized as equivalent to certain state-issued IDs. http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2012/MemberDetail.aspx?Member=138

TEXAS

Mary E. Gonzalez, running for state House in Texas’ 75th District – Gonzalez will run unopposed in the general election in November. She will become the second ever LGBT member of the Texas State House, bringing the number of state legislatures without an LGBT member down to sixteen. http://www.votemarygonzalez.com/

UTAH

Luz Robles, running for reelection to the state Senate in Utah’s 1st District – Robles currently serves on the Senate Ethics Committee, the Health and Human Services Committee, and several others. While in office, Robles has fought for the rights of all people.  During the 2011 session, she sponsored a bill that would give illegal immigrants an “accountability card,” giving them the right to work without changing their legal status. http://www.facebook.com/luz.robles.948

VERMONT

Kesha Ram, running for reelection to the state House in Vermont’s 3-4 District – First elected in 2008 at age 25, Ram is the youngest legislator serving in Vermont. Ram spent her first three years serving as the clerk of the General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee, and this year was appointed to the Ways and Means Committee. Additionally, she serves on the Joint Legislative Technology Committee. She is the Legal Director for the organization Women Helping Battered Women. http://www.kesharam.org/

VIRGINIA

Justin Wilson, running for a seat on the Alexandria City Council – Wilson, who previously served one term on the city council,  strongly supports marriage equality, supports Gay/Straight Alliance clubs in local schools, and has been a member of LGBT Democrats of America since 2003. He is a member of Alexandria’s NAACP chapter and when on the city council served on the Youth Policy Commission and Alexandria Library. http://www.justin.net/

Joel McDonald, running for Virginia Beach School Board – McDonald has dedicated himself to the field of education, having worked as a data support specialist with the Virginia Beach City Public Schools for the last six years. McDonald is currently a member of the Virginia Beach Education Association and is a pro-equality Democrat with an endorsement from the LGBT Democrats of Virginia PAC. http://votemcdonald.org/

WASHINGTON

Joe Fitzgibbon, running for reelection to the Washington House of Representatives in the 34th District – First elected in 2010 to represent Olympia, Fitzgibbon has served as vice chair of the Local Government Committee and as a member of the Transportation, Environment, and General Government Appropriations and Oversight Committee. He has taken the lead on numerous issues including “expanding access to the polls for young voters and other disenfranchised communities.” http://joefitzgibbon.com/

Cyrus Habib, running for state House in Washington’s 48th District – Habib is a disability advocate, having lost his eyesight at age 8 due to a rare form of child cancer. He serves as the Human Services Commissioner for the city of Bellevue, Washington, and formerly served on the city’s Civil Rights Commission. If elected, Habib will be the first Iranian-American member of any state legislature in the country. http://electcyrus.com/

Noel Christina Frame, running for state House in Washington’s 36b District – Frame serves as the state director for Progressive Majority in Washington, facilitating the recruitment of state and local progressives to promote a variety of worthwhile causes. She worked as the deputy campaign manager for Approve Referendum 71, a successful ballot measure that ensured the legality of LGBT domestic partnerships. She will continue to fight for equality, working families, and the environment in the state House. http://noelframe.com/

Marko Liias, running for reelection to the Washington House of Representatives in the 21st District – The son of Finnish immigrants, Liias was first elected to his current position in 2008. Liias is a member of the Education and Transportation Committees and has vowed to continue his efforts to prioritize funding for education and for transportation measures that will generate jobs. http://markoliias.com/

WISCONSIN

Mandela Barnes, running for state House in Wisconsin’s 11th District – Born and raised in Milwaukee, Barnes serves as a community organizer in his hometown and formerly served in the mayor’s office. Barnes has vowed to properly fund education, modernize transportation infrastructure, and invest in the local economy to create jobs. http://www.mandelaforwisconsin.com/index.html

WYOMING

Joseph Barbuto, running for reelection to the Wyoming House of Representatives in the 48th District – Born in Rock Springs, Wyoming, Barbuto worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008. He was appointed to his current position when its incumbent stepped down. Once in office, Barbuto served on the House Minority Caucus; he is currently assigned to the Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee as well as the Select Committee on School Facilities. Barbuto has been a strong force for progressive change in Wyoming. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Representative-Joseph-M-Barbuto/353062025614

Young Elected Progressives Program Candidates

As we continue to reveal the 2012 endorsed candidates of PFAW’s Young Elected Progressives program, here are three more great individuals, 35 or younger, running for office: Andrew Gounardes (NY), Micah Z. Kellner (NY) and Tim Keller (NM).

Andrew Gounardes

Andrew Gounardes is running to represent Brooklyn in the New York Senate. He currently serves as a member of Community Board 10 in New York City and is an attorney for the Citizens Committee, a non-profit organization focusing on providing funds for neighborhood improvement. When in school, Gounardes was the first Student Advisory Member to the Panel for Education Policy in New York City and he later worked as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. If elected, Gounardes will use his leadership experience to pass legislation improving public education, campaign finance laws and more. Visit his website here.

Micah Z. Kellner

Micah Z. Kellner is running for reelection to the New York Assembly. He has been serving in the Assembly since 2007 and has proven to be a great progressive leader. Kellner is a member on several committees including the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection and the Committee on Cities. He has been a strong advocate for the disabilities community, as well as for marriage equality and reproductive freedom. Kellner also has fought for increases in the quality of public education through increased funding and is a champion for the middle class, as well, with efforts to make housing more affordable for all New Yorkers. Visit his website here.

Tim Keller

Tim Keller is running for reelection to the New Mexico Senate. After graduating from college, Keller established Data Digital Divide, which helps land mine victims in Cambodia. Upon moving back home to New Mexico, he began working for Booz and Company, a management and strategy firm, and eventually rose to the position of Senior Manager. He has built up a strong record in office and with his business experience, has fought to put New Mexicans back to work and improve the economy. Keller was elected to the Senate in 2008 and has been named to multiple committees including: Education, Military & Veterans’ Affairs and is the Chair of Science, Technology & Telecommunications. Visit his website here.

PFAW

Young Elected Progressives Program

People For the American Way is dedicated to fighting for equal rights, freedom of speech, religious liberty and equal justice under the law for every American. One way we do that is by supporting great progressive candidates throughout the country through the Young Elected Progressives (YEP) program. The YEP program supports progressive candidates 35 and younger running for local and state offices, helping them win elections so they can start enacting change nationwide. This is done with an endorsement from PFAW’s Action Fund, along with monetary donations, volunteer hours and political support from people like you!

We will be revealing this year’s Young Elected Progressives program endorsed candidates through a series of blog posts highlighting a few candidates and their accomplishments. Today, we’ll introduce you to State Senator Angie Buhl (SD), Representative Dwight Bullard (FL), and Mary Gonzalez (TX).

Angie Buhl

Angie Buhl is running for reelection to the South Dakota Senate, where she represents the city of Sioux Falls. Buhl was first elected in 2010 at the age of 25, becoming the youngest woman to ever serve in South Dakota’s Senate.

Buhl has quickly become a leader in the state Senate and a voice for South Dakota Democrats. She has already risen to the position of Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and she serves on the Judiciary, Commerce & Energy, Retirement Laws, and Interim Rules Review Committees.

Buhl is a proven progressive champion and an advocate for equal rights. She has served on the board of Equality South Dakota, as well as South Dakotans Against Discrimination and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. She is also an active member of affiliate PFAW Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network, which provides a network of support to elected officials 35 and under, and the National Women’s Political Caucus of South Dakota. Visit her website here.

Dwight Bullard

Dwight Bullard is running for Florida Senate in the 39th district. He has served in Florida’s House of Representatives since 2008.

Bullard, a high school teacher by trade, has shown great leadership in Florida’s education system both in and out of the classroom. As the ranking Democrat in the education committee and the pre K-12 education policy committee in the state legislature, Bullard is a leader in fighting for public education reform. Bullard also sponsored the Florida DREAM Act, which creates a pathway for undocumented immigrants to get in-state tuition.

Bullard has been recognized often for his work, including receiving the Barbara Jordan Leadership Award from affiliate PFAW Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network. Additionally, he was awarded the Young Democrats of Miami Dade Outstanding Leadership Award from the Miami-Dade Democrats and the Next Generation Leader Award from the Florida Association of School Administrators. Visit his website here.

Mary E. Gonzalez

Mary E. Gonzalez is running to represent District 75 in the Texas House of Representatives. Gonzalez won the Democratic primary with 52% of the vote in a three way race back on May 29th. She will become the only current openly gay member of the Texas legislature.

Gonzalez has spent the past several years working in higher education. She has served as the Program Coordinator in the Multicultural Engagement Center at the University of Texas at Austin and was the Assistant Dean for Student Multicultural Affairs at Southwestern University. She also serves as the National President of the service sorority Kappa Delta Chi and Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for allgo, Texas' state-wide Queer People of Color organization.

Gonzalez has been named as one of the Hot 25 under 25 most influential young Latinos in the country by Latino Leaders Magazine for her leadership in education. Once elected, Gonzalez will join former state representative Glen Maxey as the only two openly LGBT members ever to serve in the Texas House. Her election may show a cultural shift in what is still a largely conservative state and gives the Texas LGBT community a voice in the Texas state government. Visit her website here .

PFAW

PFAW’s Young Electeds Program Candidates Win Major Victories

People For the American Way proudly congratulates the 2011 endorsees of our Young Electeds Program on their Election-Day victories.
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