June 21, 2018
By Jacob Vurpillat
Earlier this month we wrote about how members of the LGBTQ+ community are significantly underrepresented in both Congress and legislatures around the country.
In 2016 roughly four percent of Americans identified as being part of the LGBTQ+ community.
In a perfect world of equal representation, that’d mean we’d see about four LGBTQ+ senators and 17 LGBTQ+ representatives in Congress.
Currently just one senator and six representatives in Congress openly identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community.
At NDTC we believe that our differences enhance our strength as a political party – and as a nation.
Candidates of every background, race, culture, sexual orientation, and gender identity are joined in our trainings by one mission: to make their communities better places to live for everyone.
That’s why we’re excited to spotlight some of our incredible LGBTQ+ political candidates.
These are people who are trailblazers in their communities. They work hard to provide our country with a more equal representation.
These candidates want to bring diversity and perspective to their offices and be role models for members of their community.
They didn’t just want change to happen within their communities – they’re working to make sure that change happens in their community.
Join us to take a look at these seven candidates who are leading the way to more equal representation among office holders.
Candidate for Sheriff
Candidate for State Representative
Candidate for County Coroner
Candidate for State Representative
Candidate for City Council
West St. Paul Ward 3
Candidate for Central Committee
Candidate for State Representative
What does it mean to you to run as a member of the LGBTQ+ community?
- Dustin: “The importance of me running for Sheriff is twofold: first, I want to serve as an example for other LGBTQ community members who wish to join the criminal justice field. Secondly, I think that the LGBTQ community deserves an advocate in our criminal justice system.”
- Mitch: “It’s important for me to run for political office because decisions are being made in the Missouri Legislature that directly affect the LGBTQ+ community in the state. I will add my voice to a number of other LGBTQ+ candidates who will fight to make sure fellow legislators understand the importance of protecting those in the minority from discrimination.”
- Sydney: “With the current environment of the United States, I believe that diversity is something we need more than ever. It’s important to have visibility for marginalized communities. This helps educate the general public and to let others in these marginalized communities know that they are not alone.”
- David: “It is important to have diversity and representation for our community, concerns, and issues. It also allows the opportunity to build bridges and forge relationships with others that may lack understanding about our community and issues that we face. I can be a voice for those in my district and the LGBTQ community at large.”
- Wendy: “I want to show underrepresented folks that it’s possible to be a part of local government. We need more perspectives that accurately represent the population of our city. Our city is less than 30 minutes from one of the largest Pride Festivals in the nation. Our current council rarely acknowledges the city’s LGBTQ+ community. My wife and I are raising two young sons, who will be attending public school in a few years. We think it’s important for them to see diversity in their government, and experience first-hand the roles we play in it. I’m honored to give a voice to the underrepresented populations in our city.”
- George: “Among the many lenses through which I try to view, understand and learn about the world is my identity as a gay man. Having that personal experience helps me to be compassionate, considerate, and heightens my awareness for other groups of people who have been denied access to services and civil rights protections in the hopes of bringing many voices to the table.”
- Amelia: “It took a long time for me to think about this question. In the end, I don’t want to be labeled as an “LGBTQ+ candidate”. I am so much more than just an LGBTQ+ candidate. I’m here to talk about the issues that my friends and neighbors are facing and why they need a stronger voice to advocate for them in the state’s legislature. I am a here for the people. This campaign is not about me. It is about the working families of House District 52.”
Tell Us About Yourself. How Have You Been Involved in Your Community Before Deciding to Run for Office?
- Dustin: “I’ve been in the criminal justice field for approximately 19 years – 15 of those have been as a police officer in a variety of roles. My master’s degree is in criminology and my doctorate is in leadership. I’m currently a tenured professor in the criminal justice program, and a police officer, at a community college in rural Illinois. In that role, I serve as an advocate for teaching faculty as a governor-appointed member of our state’s Community College Board. I have also served in a union leadership role at the college, as well as an advocate for diversity and inclusion.”
- Mitch: “I was a television journalist for 16 years. I covered dozens of political campaigns during that time. I transitioned from journalist to small business owner in 2014 when I started my own video production company to help other business owners, organizations and nonprofits tell their stories through video marketing. In my community I’ve been involved with programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Meals on Wheels, the KC AIDS Walk & Ride, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Great Plains SPCA, and the Missouri Pit Bull Rescue.”
- Sydney: “I have been involved in my community for almost all my life. After being a Girl Scout for 13 years, I served as a Secretary for the Fish and Wildlife Club during college. I started a blog for asexual/aromantic and other queer individuals to give advice and create more visibility. After working as an assistant zookeeper, I held an hour-long meeting with a state representative in regards to sustainability in Colorado. It was at this time I decided to become more involved in politics. I became a temporary commissioner for the Public Art Commission Board of Castle Rock, a PCP, the chair of Young Democrats of Douglas County, and am running for coroner in Douglas County.”
- David: “I was a social worker in child welfare for about 5 years. I worked with hundreds of families to reunify them or find permanent families for children. I was a staunch advocate for LGBTQ+ foster and adoptive families when there were more restrictive laws in place and before marriage equality. Then I went to law school and continued to volunteer with some programs to assist foster children. I have mostly worked for nonprofit companies since graduating. I am currently working on starting a non-profit to represent LGBTQ+, veterans, and victims of sexual assault.”
- Wendy: “I’ve spent the last 10 years in the Human Resources field, currently leading the HR department of a Minnesota-based credit union. I’ve taken many volunteers roles with the Society for Human Resource Management in areas of communication, advocacy, and networking. For four years I’ve volunteered for BestPrep. BestPrep is an organization that partners with high schools around the Twin Cities to prepare students with career skills. I’ve spoken to high school seniors about teamwork, job searching, and resume building as they prepare for college, and have conducted mock job interviews at a statewide business venture program.”
- George: “My first job after undergrad was organizing parents to bring their voice to the Hill on the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ debate with the PFLAG organization. I went on to serve as the national field services director working with volunteers in chapters across the country. I used that experience to branch out to working on healthcare and social security issues as well as intergenerational organizing with the Gray Panthers.”
- Amelia: “I have lived in my district for over 20 years. My family used to live in a small two-bedroom house before we were picked by Habitat for Humanity. We were lucky. So many people in our district don’t have running water, enough money to pay for the car loan, or are living in rental homes that aren’t safe to live in. These are my neighbors and my family has always been in the same boat as them. I realized that neither political party was fighting for the working class. With that I realization, I ran for Vice Chair of the Yellowstone County Democrats and won. We have been working on changing the party.”
If Elected, What Change Do You Hope to Make in Your Community?
- Dustin: “In addition to trying to change the perception of the LGBTQ+ community in the criminal justice field, I’m hoping to find more alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders, and better categorize offenders in the jail so we can better address their needs (e.g., mentally ill). I want to involve the community in making decisions about our criminal justice system and sheriff’s office. After all, the community is who we serve!”
- Sydney: “As coroner, I am hoping to put an end to preventable deaths. I want to address suicide, domestic violence, substance abuse, and distracted driving. The LGBTQ+ youth are at a higher risk of suicide. I plan on also partnering with our schools to have a more comprehensive health program that focuses on healthy relationships and sex-ed for all people (wherein the past it has focused on abstinence and cis-male/cis-female relationships).”
- Mike: The change that I want to make is adding transparency to the office of State Representative for District 13. I want to listen to constituents and explain to them my decision on how I vote and why. I also want to make sure I am available to them in as many ways as possible – whether they voted for me or not.”
- David: “I will modernize our anti-discrimination laws, repeal SB1140 (allowing private religious foster care agencies that receive government money to discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals), and repeal any other anti gay laws on the books.”
- Wendy: “It’s important to me to get more people involved. Our city needs more outreach to our minority communities. We need resources for our residents who don’t speak English as their first language. This starts with things like subtitles for city council meeting broadcasts so they can participate in our government. Our city can do better in not only welcoming that diversity, but encouraging it and engaging it.”
- George: “My goal is to break down the barriers to involvement in the Democratic Party, increase engagement, develop support for the community-based precinct leaders with training, resources, connections, and appreciation. I want to continue outreach to the various democratic clubs to recruit and retain precinct leaders who reflect their community in background, color, gender, ethnicity, etc.”
- Amelia: “We have to pass a budget that would protect and fully fund mental health and foster care services. I also want to advocate for Medicaid in 2019 and pushing for single-payer health care at the state level. Next, Education, education, education. We have some of the best higher education options through the Montana University System. We have to work towards tuition-free education while raising teachers wages. Finally, Montana has a huge problem with domestic abuse and human trafficking. We have to work on ways to support and empower victims instead of shunning them or limiting their options.”
How Have NDTC’s Trainings Helped You?
- Dustin: “I have never ran for office before, so the NDTC training really opened my eyes to how to get a great campaign off the ground. Most conferences I go to I enjoy one or two sessions per day. I honestly enjoyed every single minute of the NDTC bootcamp because it was so informative and important!”
- Mitch: “I love the video tutorials and the worksheets that go along with them. It’s very easy to jump around and work on a session pertaining to a timely topic for your campaign.”
- Sydney: “One way that has been the most impactful has been fundraising. I have raised over a thousand dollars in about a months’ time. For a small campaign like mine, that’s fantastic! NDTC has also helped me reach out to fellow voters through social media and campaign emails. Multiple people have told me that I have one of the most engaging emails in the state!”
- David: “The [in-person] trainings have helped me understand some of the basics of communication on social media by giving me some great statistics about how to be effective and what actually works. One of the best things I got out of it was getting to meet some of the other candidates. It really helped create a support system and exchange of ideas.”
- Wendy: “NDTC’s courses helped me prepare for this run by really honing in on some of the specific details I wasn’t as familiar with and I can tell it’s already made an impact with each step I’ve taken along the way. Whether you’re running for office right now or you’re considering it two years from now, it’s not too early to start learning how to put build your campaign.”
- George: “The training, tools and resources have expanded my strategy with very practical ideas about reaching voters, building my brand, and serving my community”
- Amelia: “Montana is an interesting place to run for office. Due to limited resources, there are not a lot of training opportunities for primaries. NDTC helped because it literally breaks down each and every part of the campaign and how to do everything from crafting your message to raising funds. We also don’t have paid campaign staffers. Our efforts are usually all volunteer based so it is helpful to offer your volunteer team a resource to help them become better prepared and possibly apply for campaign jobs in their future.”
These 7 candidates are all working to provide the LGBTQ+ community with equal representation in government. They all believe in the importance of the work that they are doing. They are fighting tirelessly to achieve their goals.
NDTC is proud to have many candidate of all backgrounds who work to make their communities better places to live for everyone.