Meet the 2021 Summer Fellows

Meet the 2021 Summer Fellows

We are excited to announce the 13th class of Bus Summer Fellows!

The Bus Summer Fellowship is our longest running and signature leadership development and organizing program. Bus Fellows learn about social justice issues, and then apply that learning through political organizing. They run voter registration drives, lead our GOTV work, and engage their peers on issues that matter to them. Welcome!


Jarrett Arakaki (he/him) is from Bainbridge Island, WA and recently graduated from Whitman College. He majored in economics and minored in sociology. Jarrett has experience doing political work and but is excited to learn more about on-the-ground activism during the internship with the Washington Bus. He is also excited to meet the other fellows and connect with them! Jarrett is really passionate about playing ultimate frisbee, reading Harry Potter, and watching baseball.



Erica Calloway (she/they) is a recent graduate of Seattle University’s Bachelor’s in Social Work program. Erica has worked on equity in education with the Center for Community Engagement, but she is really excited to learn more about labor policy and activism. They can’t wait to learn more about community organizing from the other Fellows and her mentor! During her time off this summer, they’ll probably be in the kitchen making some baked goods (macrons are on the list to try), reading a book in bed, or having long conversations about astrology with her sister.




Shaiann Dickey (she/her) is a University of Washington graduate with a bachelor’s degree in American Ethnic Studies and double minor in LSJ (Law, Societies, and Justice) and diversity. Shaiann’s studies ignited her passion for social justice and equity and after graduating from UW, she was able to gain organizing experience as an intern within the labor movement advocating for the rights of working class communities. She is excited for the opportunity to broaden her knowledge of political organizing as a Washington Bus Fellow and really looks forward to getting to know her peers! During Shaiann’s free time she is excited for brunches, spending the day at the lake, and going to Disneyland.



Alexander Gray (he/him) is a student at the University of Washington Studying political science. Alex has been a legislative organizer during the 2021 washington legislative session with The Alliance For Gun Responsibility and is the president and founder of their chapter team on the UW’s campus. His interest in activism centers around an emphasis Mental health care and Environmental protections. During the fellowship he aims to both build community and do some important work. In his free time he enjoys reading, photography, painting and playing soccer.




Kate Harvey (she/her) was born and raised in Walla Walla, Washington, and now attends college at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. There, she studies American Studies and Civic Engagement. In Walla Walla, she has participated in organizing for abortion rights and sex-education, against anti-gun violence, and planning local pride events. She is excited to continue community organizing and advocating for political change in Washington State with the Bus and the other fellows. In her free time, Kate can be found hosting her radio show, reading, or cooking with her housemates.




Storm Nguyen (they/them) is a queer nonbinary creative and activist based in Seattle, Washington. Storm is a rising college junior at Seattle Pacific University majoring in Fashion Design and minoring in Psychology. Storm is also a photography creative and their work can be found on Instagram (@stcrmsworld). Storm is a member of the Emerald Youth Organizing Collective, a Staff Photographer at Rice and Spice Magazine (a creative arts zine centered around the Asian American experience) and has past experience organizing with the ACLU. Storm will serve as the Event Coordinator and Event Fellow for their school’s multiethnic programs office for the 2021-22 school year. Storm’s advocacy mainly centers around lgbtqia+ rights, police abolition, racial justice and liberation, fashion/art/culture and mental health equity,


Ndidi Opara (she/her) was born in California, raised in Arizona and based out of the East Seattle suburbs; and is a community and national organizer. On a local level, her work includes serving on municipal and regional advisory boards to working on Social Media and Comms for Emerald Youth Organizing Collective. She is excited to be able to pursue more local organizing. At a national level, her work includes issue advocacy work with BlueFuture, advocacy work with MovementLabs, and journalism with StudentVoice. Ndidi hopes to explore Public Policy more during her Freshman year at the University of Chicago. Outside of politics, she enjoys fashion design, media, art, and music.


Faith Rasmussen (she/her) is an Idaho Virtual Academy Graduate. She has spent the past year engaging in racial justice and organizing BLM protests in Seattle and helping organize mutual aid in Capitol Hill. Faith is an incoming freshman at the University of Washington-Tacoma and plans on majoring in Law and Policy, while also minoring in Human Rights. She is excited to learn about intersectional issues, along with connecting with other like-minded people with a passion to make the world better! Her favorite hobbies are reading, writing, and hiking with her poodle-mix named Schmidt!



Fadumo Roble (she/her) is a student at the University of Washington majoring in Political Science and minoring in Law, Societies, and Justice – hoping to pursue a career in law. Fadumo is involved within her community through events within the city of Bellevue, Eastside for All, Muslims 4 Abolition, her local mosque, and assisting other grassroots movements. Fadumo founded a youth-led organization called Movement of Advocacy for Youth (MAY) in which they strive to empower the youth in the community to work towards a better future through advocacy, voting, and civic engagement. During the fellowship, she hopes to learn more about policy making and the work behind that, as well as bond with peers. In her free time, she loves spending time with friends, finding new coffee shops, reading, going to concerts (pre-covid ofc), and exploring Washington State.


Jenni Ruiz (she/her) is a first generation Mexican American student. A rising third year student at the University of Washington – Seattle. She is majoring in Law, Societies and Justice and hoping to double minor in Spanish and Human Rights. Aside from that she is a sister of Kappa Delta Chi, a Latina based but not exclusive sorority and interns for Poder Común which is an organization with a goal to get more Latino voters here in Washington. During the Fellowship, she hopes to create long-lasting bonds with everyone and do more hands on activism.




Tashmee Sarwar (she/her) is a North Creek High School graduate and former ASB executive officer of three years. Her personal focuses were on making sure that underrepresented groups in her community were being heard and respected, and organizing protests at the school and district level for systemic change. She now attends the University of Washington with a focus on Biology and Law. Through this fellowship, she is excited to take her passion for social activism to more focused issues in the Seattle area. Engaging in meaningful conversations about life and enjoying nature are some of her favorite pastimes!



Luke Lokahi Scott (he/him) is an incoming junior at the University of Washington Bothell. He is double majoring in Law, Economics, and Public Policy and Community Psychology while pursuing a minor in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. After competing in mock trial for Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek, he joined the UWB Speech and Debate Team and will serve as team captain in the upcoming year. He plans to use his lived experience as transgender queer citizen and the skills he continues to develop in programs such as this fellowship to become a public defender and serve the most marginalized and forgotten community members in society. In this fellowship, he hopes to connect with like-minded activists and create positive, local, and lasting change. In his free time, Luke loves bodybuilding, reading and writing, and playing guitar or piano!


Ariana Siddiqui-Dennis (she/her) is a Seattle University graduate with degrees in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and International Studies. Her research focuses on Islamic feminism and Muslim women’s leadership and organizing across the Muslim world. She held positions in her university’s Gender Justice Center, Muslim Student Association, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Advisory council, as well as engaged in international, anti-imperialist organizing on and off campus. She is passionate about community organizing and is looking forward to continuing this work beyond her college campus. She enjoys dancing, playing with her two dogs Waffles and Luna, and learning to cook Afghan food and read Rumi poetry.


Zoe Williams (she/her) is a former Highline College student who emphasized her area of study in Sociology. She is looking forward to learn how elected officials take voters’ concerns and implement effective change. She is also excited to learn what motivates voters and how to organize to creatively resolve issues community members face. She spent 10 days in Vietnam with Highline College’s Global Programs to study the Supply Chain. She has rediscovered her passion for reading and visits her local library often. She enjoys spoken word poetry and storytelling, and R&B music from now and decades past. If you see her watching TV, she is probably guessing the questions on Jeopardy.


Asemayet Zekaryas (she/her) is going into her sophomore year at USC where is studying Public Policy. She is passionate about education equity and hopes to learn more about education policy. Sparking discussion on important topics such as education inequity is important to her and she has found podcasts are a way to do that. She has found podcasts to be the conversations others can listen to that help them start more conversations. She enjoys listening to podcasts and has made some of her own. Asemayet is excited to meet and learn from her peers and have meaningful conversations.

What we WON in the 2021 Leg Session 🎊

This post was written by Bus Staff

The  legislative session is over for this year, and we’re here reflecting on what we WON, and on the work that still needs to be done. First off, we’re proud of all the young people who called their legislators, showed up to testify, and advocated for policies they believe in. Our legislative system is tricky – it’s hard to understand, and it can really seem like a black box, one which has the potential to create transformative justice on so many issues, but often falls short of the values we believe in. We watched legislators make racist, hurtful statements on the floor and in committee. We also saw young people standing up for what they believe in, by waiting hours to testify remotely for Community College equity, or the Working Families Tax Credit. 

We have to celebrate the small wins, because even small wins are big wins. Check out some of what we won below. 

What we Won

😇  We restored Voting Rights to 26,000 of our neighbors in WA 

HB 1078 increases voting access by automatically restoring the right to vote to those no longer in community custody. Say thank you to Rep. Tarra Simmons.

📚 We invested in our Community and Technical Colleges

The Our Colleges our Future Act invests $33 million into our Community and Technical Colleges to add 200 new full-time faculty positions, increase mental health counseling, and add advisers. The bill also implements diversity, equity and inclusion plans and changes residency requirements so more undocumented students can qualify for in-state financial aid. Say thank you to Senator Marko Liias.

💸  We put $$ in the pockets of young people and working families 

The Working Families Tax credit will  provide a much needed income boost of up to $950 for nearly one million working Washingtonians. This tax refund will help support an equitable recovery for working families, college students, immigrants, and young folks without children. Say thank you to Rep. My-Linh Thai.

🤑  We taxed the rich and took a step towards a more just tax code

Capital Gains is a big deal. We made a HUGE step towards fixing Washington’s upside down tax code by passing a tax on extraordinary profits from the sale of stocks and bonds. This will only impact Washington’s wealthiest individuals and will help fund a just recovery that includes funding for childcare, early learning, and K-12. Say thank you to Rep. Noel Frame and Senator June Robinson.

We cut down transportation emissions and pollution

The Clean Fuels Standard makes a big impact on carbon emissions from the transportation sector, and is a common sense way to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. We’ve now joined Oregon and California in implementing this policy. Say thank you to Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon.

 🚔  We took a step towards de-militarizing police

A coalition of first term Black legislators successfully pushed police accountability measure HB 1054. This bill bans no-knock warrants and chokeholds, restricts the use of tear gas, and limits other tactics often used in police brutality cases. Say thank you to Rep. Jesse Johnson.

🗝  We banned for-profit private prisons

What!! After years of activism and hard work from advocates, the Washington State Legislature approved a ban on private, for-profit prisons. This means the Northwest Detention Center, the private immigrant detention center in Tacoma, WA, will be closed by 2025. We want to thank community leaders in the advocacy space, like La Resistencia, who have fought for this for years.

Where we Fell Short 

 😕  Making democracy more accessible 

Local Options for Ranked Choice Voting didn’t make it through. This bill would have given local jurisdictions the option to implement ranked choice voting, which is proven to make first time candidates, candidates of color, and woman candidates, more likely to run and win. We’re hoping to see this make it through the legislature another year. Stay tuned for ways to get involved!

Additionally, advisory votes will still show up on your ballot. Boooooooo. 

 😕  Police accountability to community

HB 1203 would have implemented Community Oversight Boards to hold police departments accountable across the state. The importance of this policy cannot be overstated – currently, police are held accountable only to their own departments. 

What’s next?? 💫

⏱ We’re looking forward to next year. The “interim” is where the magic happens – when legislators meet with constituents (that’s you!) and organizations like ours start to mobilize around policies that will make a difference to Washingtonians. Have a policy idea you think the Bus should work on?



Art as Activism 

Art as Activism 

The Bus was stoked to be able to provide a small economic boost to five amazing young, local artists. Thank you to everyone who participated by sharing their art, promoting the contest, and voting on the submissions! Read on and get to know the artists behind two of our arts contest submissions and learn their stories. 

Fifth House Media: Kamyar Mohsenin (he/him) Hanan Hassan (she/her) Toni Banx (she/her) Elevate music video

Performed by: Hanan Hassan (@onedesertflower), Toni Banx (@toni.banx); Written by: Hanan Hassan, Toni Banx; Filmed by: Kamyar Mohsenin (@kamyar.m); Produced by: Noah O’Connor (@noah_coinflip); Engineered by: Noah O’Connor, Arthur Anderson (

About the piece: “This song is written as a reminder to the listener of their agency in unfavorable social circumstances and their power to ‘elevate.'” 

How COVID is impacting the artists: Hanan is a teaching artist who worked in community outreach, and that is totally eliminated, which is creating financial strain. She’s hopeful that she’ll get to return to that work. Toni lost her job completely, but she feels lucky that there are resources to help during COVID. Being a creative person, she’s taking it all positively and is grateful for the space to dive into her creativity. Kamyar’s workload has diminished– he went from teaching four in-person film-making classes to teaching two online classes and is definitely feeling the financial strain. He’s also working with Coyote Central, Lens Culture, and as a freelance video editor. He’s always excited about and working toward more projects with local, like-minded artists.

On adjusting and upliftment: Toni has more time to do what she loves to the fullest extent. “The way that I create has always been to give a voice to people that are underrepresented, especially black women. I feel like it’s important that we are heard and understood. Hip hop is a great medium for that.” In Toni’s words, the pandemic is highlighting where the screws are loose in our society. 

Kamyar has been making more of the space that he lives in; re-sorting the feng shui of it since he’s in it all the time and needs to be inspired and productive in it and by it. He’s trying no to take for granted the fact that the pandemic has issued a reclaiming of time and is using it as an opportunity to better himself in the long run.

Hanan’s message hasn’t changed because her art is always about underrepresented communities who are repeatedly affected by the same detriments. A lot of the poetry, scripts, and music that she writes discuss upliftment and reality while being able to point out what’s wrong, why it’s wrong, and how we can fix it. 

Art as Activism: Toni: “Hip hop is the voice of the people. It’s the voice of where I’m from.” Toni feels that the genre has been misconstrued. It highlights social injustices and inadequacies, and instead of crying about it, it offers solutions. “My number one thing that I always want to give people is ideas, suggestions, ways to move forward. That is what hip hop is created for.”

Hanan: “Art is a vehicle for activism. With everything that we do, it feels like there’s no option to be apolitical. Being an underrepresented person in a community, you have to speak up for yourself and choose the medium to do that.” Hanah also described art as a capsule for storytelling. “In order to be an activist, you have to know the history and the best way to impact people.” 

Kamyar is a big advocate for environmental consciousness in his classrooms. He’s been trying to use his privilege to amplify the voices that need to be heard and matter. This video is a testament to that. He’s learning how to better assist others and expose communities in a way that’s honest and authentic. 

All these artists are inspired by the richness of people’s lives and stories. 

Most importantly, how to support them: “We can’t pay bills with comments and likes.” Cashapp: $fifthhouseband 

These amazing artists told me right off the bat that “during the pandemic, it’s very important to help one another,” so they donated the $300 from the Bus to Baby Z (the adorable baby in the music video) and their mom. 

Follow and purchase: @themelojuice (Hanan’s brain child/recipe supported by Kamyar and Toni) 

“Tell Seattle to actually support their artists. Too many artists grow up here or come here but can’t make strides.” They really want to be able to stay here and see the city become a true hub for artists, instead of watching awesome artists flee to LA or New York. They know that people here have spending power and want entertainment and feel that we shouldn’t depend so heavily on the government to fund the arts. “If the artists who are working hard had opportunities to show their work, people would want to be patrons.” As a voice for all local creatives, they want to see more venues, gallery spaces, opportunities for exposure, and local (emphasis on that adjective!) artists being uplifted and showcased. 

Stay tuned for more beautiful work by Fifth House!

Erika Mazza-Smith (she/her) Instagram: @bloobberry 

About the piece: “The illustration is of signs in front of the Northwest Detention Center calling for the release of folks detained. I drew sunflowers behind the fence because to me, sunflowers represent hope and I like that they always find the sun, even in difficult conditions.” 

How Erika has adjusted: Erika was heavily impacted because the coffee shop she worked at closed, so she hasn’t been able to work there in two months. She’s adapting by making masks, and she also joined a mutual aid group to help support her community by doing things like grocery shopping for those who can’t, which she highly recommends if you’re in a position to do so. She is also helping to put together a food justice online summer school with Community Alliance for Global Justice and works part-time for a youth fellowship. “I am a person who tends to make themselves busy, for better or for worse!  But I am realizing that it is important to take time to rest and to grieve and not to put too much pressure on myself to be productive or continually working, so that is a practice that I am engaging in more.”

Erika on art as activism: “I think the intersection of art and activism is super important! It’s super freeing to create art (even if you don’t consider yourself an artist) and I think creating activist art together is a great way to build community and camaraderie in movements. Art also helps spark an emotional connection to an issue in a way that data and facts cannot.”

What inspires Erika: “My biggest art inspiration right now is the cartoonist Lynda Barry. She is an incredible writer, artist and educator. She has written a couple books on creativity, personal narrative and building a consistent art practice. It has been incredibly helpful to me. Inspiration only lasts so long though, I have found that finding time to sit down to draw, to let my brain wander and not pass judgements on my ideas is super important. I also often find inspiration to create a larger work from what I doodle or from something small I observe/hear/think in my daily life.”

How to support: Erika says the best way to support artists right now is by buying their art! If you can’t afford art right now, even commenting on or sharing artists’ work online is so helpful and much appreciated.

By Libby Watson, College & Community Engagement Coordinator

Summer Fellowship is #HellaDigital

Summer Fellowship is #HellaDigital

Dear Bus Family and Friends,

As COVID -19 continues to reveal the deep inequities in our democracy, the Bus is doubling down on our efforts to shape Washington’s future. For this reason, the Bus Summer Fellowship is going digital! This year we will focus on transforming digital action into political action. 

Fellows will experience the same hands on democracy, community building, and social justice learning as always. Organizing our peers now means organizing rad online events, base building through social media, and throwing the most fun “couch parties” that have ever happened. Climate justice and housing affordability impact young people now more than ever, and Fellows will lead the charge on organizing their peers to uplift these core issues. We’re excited to transform digital organizing and bring it to the forefront of the Bus’ work with the help of a skilled class of Fellows, social justice experts, and our partner organizations.

Meeting young people where they are has taken on a whole new meaning in the time of social distancing. We can’t wait for you all to meet the Fellowship Class of 2020 as they take over the internet and advance progressive reform across Washington State. 


Mo Pannier, Leadership Development Coordinator

Leila Reynolds, Field Organizer

PS: Check out this video of our dear VoteBot going RemoteBot — enjoy!

Get Out That Vote!

Get Out That Vote!

Thirsty Thursday blog post reminding you to VOTE! #knowledgeresponsibly

The deadline to vote for the primary election is August 1st. Don’t forget to mail your ballot or drop it in a nearby dropbox!

Your vote really matters – in state and local elections just a few hundred votes can make the difference. If you live in Seattle, you’ll be helping to narrow down a crowded mayoral primary from 21 candidates down to 2! Plus, voting to determine whether we should create and fund a cultural access program expanding students and underserved populations’ access to arts, science, and heritage programming in King County, as well as voting on a county Executive and city councilmembers.

The Bus was out this weekend doing our part to make sure young people are turning out for elections large and small.

In order to make politics fun and accessible, we meet young folks where they are – and sometimes that means music festivals! This past weekend the Bus brought out Fellows, interns, and a ton of volunteers to canvass at Capitol Hill Block Party, making sure young folks at the festival were registered to vote and reminding them to turn in their ballots.

In the booth we had a station to make your own buttons, candy, and make-your-own-meme cutouts. While people learned about the Bus and had some fun with us, we made sure their voter registration was up to date, reminded them to turn their ballots in, and engaged them around voting access issues with a survey gauging public support for several strategies that can make voting easier, such as pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds, automatic voter registration, pre-paid postage, same-day voter registration and language accessibility. By gathering information on the survey, we hope that we can impact the voting systems and make it more accessible. *And it turns out emojis are a very effective tool of measurement everyone can relate to.

Many people consider politics to be something serious and unapproachable, and we want to break down barriers that prevent people from fully participating in our democracy. We can express our values, achieve our goals, and make our communities better through voting. While we tackle serious issues, we still want to make sure people associate politics with something fun, something they want to be a part of.

Here I ask again, please get out to vote! Voting matters to you. Voting matters to the community. Voting matters to the entire city and state. Let’s make our voices heard!

This blog post was written by the Bus’s Duke Engage interns, Debra and Anqi.

Guest Post: 6 Things I Learned from Running a Fake Mayoral Campaign

Guest Post: 6 Things I Learned from Running a Fake Mayoral Campaign

This week’s special edition of Thirsty Thursday is brought to you by former Bus staffer, Candidate Survivor 2017 panelist, and current CID Public Safety Coordinator Sonny Nguyen. #knowledgeresponsibly

Everybody in this city is running for mayor. Back in May, after Mayor Murray withdrew his campaign for reelection, mayoral candidacies became more ubiquitous than fidget spinners. Seriously, from Larry “Oh Boy!” Oberto to the guy who Nazi salutes the city councilmembers, we have enough mayoral candidates in this city to fill a usually nearly-empty First Hill Streetcar.

Now, I am nothing if not a trendspotter. After much consideration, I decided I couldn’t be the only person in Seattle without a campaign launch party. Imagine the embarrassment! So, as anyone would do, I jokingly announced a write-in campaign to run for mayor.

Photo Credit: The Evergreen State College

At least, it started out as a joke. And then things got weird. Since then, it’s become a weird performance art piece about the state of municipal elections because I went to Evergreen and that’s just what happens for us. (I think my entire college was just an elaborate performance art piece about academia or something..)

Anyway, throughout the last two months of fake-campaigning for real-life mayor, here are the things I’ve learned about running for office.

1. Running for office is super expensive.

It can costs upwards of half a million dollars to win a mayoral race in Seattle. For those of us in student loan debt, that number looks like this: $500,000. Where does that money go? Campaign staff and consultants, mailers, facilities rentals for events, all kinds of stuff. In fact, filing to run for mayor can cost about $2,000 alone. Unfortunately, I did not have $500k waiting to be spent (see above re: student loan debt) but neither do most people running for office. That’s why we have programs like the democracy vouchers for use in municipal (i.e. city) races, to close the gap between people who have or can raise that kind of money and people who don’t have as much easy access to that kind of money.

Photo Credit: Fuse WA

(My only disappointment with the program is that Democracy Vouchers don’t come in lower denominations, making us mostly unable to make it rain stacks on candidates.)

Fortunately or unfortunately for me, I have years of practice living on a shoestring budget. I printed my hundreds of campaign stickers on Avery nametags that I got from Prime Now with a coupon code and gift card. I got over 100 bottles of beer donated to me for my campaign launch party. I borrowed a button maker to make campaign buttons. I printed my yard signs on the biggest sheets of paper my office’s printer could handle, and gluesticked them on to cut up boxes that once held ice cream sandwiches. All in all, I spent about $80 on my campaign materials, that’s a total saving so far of $794,657 compared to Ed Murray’s 2013 campaign.


2. I am excellent at campaigning.

I worked with the Washington Bus for about 10 years, so I knew my way around a campaign. I’ve spent many summers surrounded by stressed out candidates and campaign managers, and I’ve gotta say this was much easier than I thought. Maybe it’s because I’m not trying to win, but most of campaigning was just hanging out at events and being charming. Aside from filling out surveys and raising money, it’s pretty much just flirting with an entire city and I am an excellent flirt.

Photo Credit: CityArts

< But probably not as good a flirt as City Council Position 8 candidate, Dr. Hisam Goueli. Woof.

A lot of campaigning is learning how to make any conversation about you and what you can do. As someone who grew up in a household with seven other kids, this comes naturally. When you’re competing for attention with that many other people, you either learn to be proud of your own accomplishments or seek out new ways to gain external validation. And I ran a fake campaign for mayor, so you can guess which path I chose.

But this isn’t a blog post about my childhood development. This is a blog about Hisam Goueli’s delts. Or something.


3. Campaign events don’t need to be stuffy and boring.

Not every campaign event needs to be a no-host cocktail hour where strangers have to make small talk or a listening session in a rented conference room. And not every candidate forum needs to be the same questions with the same audience.

Were you at Candidate Survivor? If you were, I don’t need to explain this to you. If you weren’t, well, #vapeflute explains it all.

4. There’s no excuse for ugly campaign aesthetics.

Can we talk about this? Can we talk about how boring campaign materials look? My graphic design experience peaked at high school Yearbook Editor, and yet I must say I’ve got some of the best campaign materials of any candidate – real or otherwise. I made them on Canva! The free version!

(This post not sponsored by Canva. But it can be. Hit me up, Canva marketing team.)


 5. Seattle wants young progressive candidates.

You would think that with 21 people making it to the ballot, we would have enough variety in candidates to call ourselves covered for the mayor’s race. It turns out people were actually super stoked to hear my (fake) announcement. Before finding out it was fake, people were offering to host fundraisers and events for me, connect me to possible endorsements, and even pay my filing fee!

And only partly because I’m incredibly charming. It was mostly because Seattle needs more young progressive candidates. Yes, we have a few already in this race and in others this year. Still, I learned you can never have too many passionate young people with a vision for the city’s future.

All across the state this year, we’ve seen amazing young candidates running for office. From Seattle School Boards to Federal Way City Council and beyond, we’re running tough races to make a difference (and almost all of them real!). It counters the mythos that millennials are dispassionate selfish jerks who only care about MTV skinny jeans and killing the diamond industry by saying “Look. We’re here and we love our local communities and we have these great ideas about how to make it better. Also we apparently don’t by napkins and I guess that’s a problem.

A packed Neumos full of mostly Millenials, ready to meet their candidates instead of playing golf.

6. You should run for office.

I mean, why not? We’ve created this idea that a candidate has to know everything about everything, but candidates are real humans who are constantly learning about the issues and building teams of experts around them. You know how to do that. You know how to make friends, be charming, and speak from the heart.

There are people and organizations out there that will donate to your campaign. There are people and organizations out there that want to hear your ideas for improving your community. You can ask your county elections office what seats will be opening up next year and start planning now, or reach out to organizations like unions, churches, or Amplify for resources. Amplify, as stated on their website, “recruits, trains, elects, and supports progressive champions for state and local office in the Northwest, prioritizing people of color, women, young people, and LGBTQ candidates.”

Sure, I didn’t actually run for office this time around. The most important thing I learned, however, is that the idea of my candidacy isn’t absurd enough to be an obvious joke. It’s a plausibility, a possibility, and with each passing day, a growing likelihood. I know now more than ever that you don’t run for office because you think you’re the best person for the job. You run for office because you know that the communities you’re a part of and that you have connections with, they deserve a voice. You run because there are issues that need to be talked about and nobody else will start those conversations. You run because if you don’t, who’s like you that will?

So do it. Run a mayoral campaign on $80 or raise $800,000. Run for school board. Run for Insurance Commissioner (10 years in politics, still barely understand what the job does). Your community is waiting for you.

As more and more amazing young people run for office, I become more and more sure that together, #WeCanNguyen.