Victory Fund endorsed five new candidates in March: Felix Rivera, Andrea Jenkins, Phillipe Cunningham, Jillia Pessenda and Ernie Schlegel. Among those endorsed, two candidates are transgender people of color and one may be Alaska’s first openly LGBTQ elected official. Felix Rivera, Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham received spotlight endorsements due to the history-making nature of their races. Victory Fund also re-endorsed three incumbents: Ed Zippirch, Tim Eustace and Chris Seelbach.
Felix Rivera is running for a seat on the Anchorage Downtown Assembly in District 4. Felix currently serves as a special assistant to the Mayor of Anchorage. Prior to that, he served as the field director and campaign manager to several candidates in Anchorage as well as the AFL-CIO. If elected, Felix could be one of two new members on the Anchorage Downtown Assembly along with Victory Fund candidate Chris Constant, running in District 1. Additionally, Felix may become Alaska’s first openly LGBTQ elected official.
Andrea Jenkins hopes to represent Ward 8 on the Minneapolis City Council. Andrea has been an aide to two former city council members and has served on several campaign committees for local and state representatives. She is also the Director of the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota. If elected, Andrea will be the first transgender woman of color elected to the city council and one of the few transgender lawmakers in the nation.
Phillipe Cunningham is vying for a position on the Minneapolis City Council, representing the city’s 4th Ward. His first involvement in local government was as a mayoral appointee to the Youth Violence Prevention Committee in 2015 and was later promoted to a Senior Policy Aide for the Mayor on issues such as education, racial equity, and LGBTQ rights. If victorious, Phillipe will be one of the first transgender men in public office and one of two potential transgender members of the Minneapolis City Council.
Jillia Pessenda is a candidate for the Minneapolis City Council in Ward 1. Jillia is an activist with work in food access and LGBTQ equality. She co-founded an urban farm in North Minneapolis and was appointed to the Minneapolis Food Policy Council. Additionally, she joined Project 515 during Minnesota’s fight for marriage equality and worked for OutFront Minnesota to pass a statewide comprehensive anti-bullying bill. Jillia’s election would bring an LGBTQ presence to the council which currently has no LGBTQ members.
Ernie Schlegel is running for a seat on the Reading City Council in Reading, Pennsylvania. Ernie’s past political involvement includes serving as Chair of the Reading Area Water Authority Board of Directors, Vice Chair of the Berks County Democratic Party and President of the Reading Public Library Board of Trustees. If elected, Ernie will be the only LGBTQ member of the city council.
Ed Zippirch has served on the Red Bank City Council since 2008. He currently chairs the Public Utilities Committee. If reelected, Ed will remain the only openly gay member of the city council and one of only 8 LGBTQ elected officials in New Jersey.
Tim Eustace is running for his fourth term in the New Jersey General Assembly. He has introduced several pieces of legislation to aid the LGBTQ community, including recreating federal legislation such as the Data Inclusion Act and partnering to ensure transgender residents receive the care and services they need. If reelected, Tim will be one of two openly LGBTQ legislators in the General Assembly.
Chris Seelbach has served on the Cincinnati City Council since 2011. Throughout his time on the council, Chris has helped secure health insurance for transgender city employees and was named a national Harvey Milk “Champion of Change” by the White House for his commitment to equality and public service. If reelected Chris will remain the first and only LGBTQ member of the city council.