We're so excited to announce our full class of seventeen candidates in 2017. These young, progressive leaders are EXACTLY the people we need to get our country on the right track. They're fighting for voting rights, high-quality education, environmental justice, and inclusive and welcoming communities. And, unlike our current political leaders, our candidates come from all corners of American life. Everyone we're working with this year is 35 or younger. Nine of our candidates are people of color, seven are women, and five are immigrants or first-generation Americans. They come from cities, suburbs, and small towns. They are students and teachers, artists and writers, organizers and activists. What these 17 leaders have in common, though, is a deep commitment to our shared progressive values and a history of working hard to make their communities better.
This is our largest group of endorsed candidates ever, and the team here at LaunchProgress couldn't be more excited to help these 17 candidates run and win. We don't need to wait for a Congressional election to create the change we need to see in politics. We can do it right now, today by helping young progressives win local elections in key battleground states. These 17 candidates are making it happen. Join us, and them, in the fight for a better future.
Without further ado, LaunchProgress's 2017 endorsed candidates:
(From left to right)
You've already met our first two Michigan candidates, Brian Jackson (Lansing City Council, Ward 4) and Erin Byrnes (Dearborn City Council). Brian is a criminal defense attorney, and is running to reform discriminatory policing and implement restorative justice policies in Lansing. Erin, a lifelong resident of Dearborn, has been an educator for over 10 years. She's focused on regulating industrial pollutants, investing in public transit, and supporting strong public-sector unions.
Garlin Gilchrist II is an insurgent candidate running for Detroit City Clerk, the office that administers federal, state, and local elections in the city. After years of voting irregularities, out-of-date equipment, and poorly trained poll workers under the incumbent, Detroiters deserves a clerk who will bring in more voters, and make voting easier and more accessible.
Nada Al-Hanooti is a Palestinian-American woman running to represent her community on the Dearborn City Council. She's first and foremost an activist, and is running to lift up marginalized voices and build an inclusive and respectful city. Her passion for and dedication her community is unparalleled.
Aaron Stephens is the youngest candidate we're endorsing this year, but he's more thoughtful and dedicated than many elected officials twice his age. He's running for Council in the college town of East Lansing, and has bold and innovative ideas to use the power of the City Council to prevent campus sexual assault and bridge the divide between Michigan State University and the wider community.
Maria Taylor, if she wins, will be the only progressive on her town's bright-red city council. Maria is a lifelong Farmington resident, and she's working to preserve her town's history while bringing its government into the 21st century.
We announced our first two Ohio candidates, Nick Komives (second from left) and Sam Melden (far right), back in April. They're both running for City Council in Toledo. Sam is a former youth pastor who ran a network of food pantries, and Nick was a labor and LGBT organizer. They're both focused clean water access and reviving a Rust Belt city hit hard by the Great Recession.
The remaining candidates, from left to right:
Aryeh Alex is an environmental activist and labor organizer running for Franklin Township Trustee. The town has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, and Aryeh is fighting to make sure the residents of the township get the government services they need.
Michaela Burriss is running for City Council in Upper Arlington to bring accountability, transparency, and good government to her town, and to combat the silent epidemic of drug abuse and sexual assault that exists not just in her community, but across the country.
Mohamed Al-Hamdani is a candidate for school board in Dayton. Mohamed is an Iraqi refugee, and he's running to make sure that Dayton public schools are able to provide children the same opportunities he was afforded when he moved to Dayton as a child. He's running on a ticket withPaul Bradley (second from right), a former staffer of Senator Sherrod Brown. Together, they will bring civility to the school board, and prioritize the needs of students, teachers, and school district employees over personal conflicts and political squabbles.
Megan Kilgore is whip-smart and incredibly prepared to be Columbus's next City Auditor. She brings to the table years of preparation, as well as creative and innovative ideas on how to use the power of the office to promote jobs with high wages and good benefits for Columbus workers.
While we still don't know if North Carolina will have state legislative elections this year, we know there's work to be done electing progressive champions to municipal office. We announced all four of our North Carolina candidates in June, and they've been working hard to get their campaigns up and running. From left to right:
Pierce Freelon is an activist, artist, and professor running for Mayor of Durham. He's running to reform discriminatory policing tactics, invest in program's for the city's youth, and shepherd responsible growth that takes into account the city's most vulnerable residents.
Vernetta Alston has an incredible depth experience fighting for criminal justice reform as a death penalty lawyer. She's running for Durham City Council to support communities of color, black-owned businesses, and affordable housing for all who call Durham home.
Uriah Ward is a middle-school social studies teacher running in a red-to-blue seat on the Greenville City Council. He's a long-time advocate, fighting against the anti-trans bill HB2 and for inclusive, welcoming, and progressive policies in his hometown.
Dimple Ajmera was appointed to the Charlotte City Council in January and is running in her first election. She's working hard to increase economic mobility in Charlotte, and bring investment to neighborhoods that have not received their fair share of city services.
We had more applicants this year than ever before, and these 17 candidates are the best of the best. In tough times, what keeps us afloat is knowing that people like them are fighting for our values every day. We couldn't be prouder to endorse them, get down in the trenches, and help them win.