Our Communities Can’t Wait: 2021 Campaign to Win

Our Communities Can’t Wait is a movement to win a government of, by, and for the people in Western PA.

No matter where we come from or how much money is in our wallets, we all work hard for our families. But, for our communities to be a place where everyone can thrive, we cannot let the richest 1% and the politicians they pay for exploit divisions among us based on what we look like, where we come from, or how much money we have. It’s time to stand up for each other and come together. Together, we can create a government where the people who work the hardest and bear the greatest burden the most are also the ones who write the laws.

We’re fighting for a new kind of politics in Western Pennsylvania. We know what isn’t working. We have a clear vision for a better future: by coming together to rewrite the rules and making the wealthiest few pay their fair share, we can ensure that everyone — Black, white and brown, native and newcomer — can earn a good living and have a good life; we can resource our schools so that every child can pursue their dreams; and we can provide families with the care we all need to get and stay well.

We’re Winning Across the State!

22 of our 26 candidates won their primaries on May 18th! Our communities really can’t wait for change. Check out this press coverage of their victories:

Vote count shows 22 of grassroots group’s 26 candidates won fall ballot spots
Tribune-Review

‘Political earthquake’: How progressive Dems surprised many with State College races
Centre Daily Times

‘Ready to see change:’ Erie County United candidates seize primary nods, build momentum
Erie Times-News

PA United 2021 Candidate Pledge

  1. We won’t take corporate cash.
    We promise to run a local, people-funded campaign. We will not take a penny from corporate PACs, corporations, or landlords that profit off exploitation.
  2. We will always stand with poor and working-class people, whether black, white, or brown, to make a better future for all of us.
    We will always stand with people who are working the hardest, whether it’s for low or even no wages. We will never cross a picket line, and remember that our fight is with the 1%, big business, and the powerful few who protect them — not with each other.
  3. We commit to building a multi-racial, multi-generational grassroots movement. 
    We will run and govern as an expression of this movement, not as individual saviors. We will focus on issues, organize alongside people of all races, classes, and genders during our campaign, and govern together when we win.
Elizabeth Hawkins

Elizabeth Hawkins

Economy Borough Council

I am running because in the past there has not been that much transparency, accountability, or accessibility from the board members. It is not uncommon for the borough to not update the meeting minutes for any given meeting, and since the pandemic started the council has moved away from doing the meetings in zoom where they can be seen and held accountable by those watching the meetings.

Jasmine Flores

Jasmine Flores

Erie City Council

My name is Jasmine Flores. I am running for Erie city council to represent the lower Eastside and minority women in our community. I have seen and deeply felt the impact of elected officials pushing their poorer residents out. Erie Community is under massive gentrification done at the expense of the lower Eastside. I am running for city council to fight for full time, livable wage job growth for our community. I will work to develop a renters/tenant union to protect renters against slum lords and unsafe living conditions since I am a renter in the city. I want to develop policies to protect residential communities that live in opportunity zones and prioritize the communities needs over developers needs.

Kendrick Tate

Kendrick Tate

Erie City Council

Hi, I’m Kendrick Tate! I’m running for City Council because I want to put our city on a clean and connected path of growth. Our environment plays an extremely important role in how we view our city, and our leadership is starting to take action to increase the quality of the air we breathe and the places we see. I want to continue the progress we’ve made in bettering the environment that has crowned us “The Mistake on the Lake.” City Council should foster the same pride that people get when seeing the Bayfront in all of our residents when seeing their neighborhoods. Our future will be the embrace and representation of each of our communities, East and West of State Street, and providing them the resources they need to see Erie as a caring and respectable home.
Dr. Leatra Tate

Dr. Leatra Tate

Erie School Board

My name is Dr. Leatra Tate and I am running as a candidate for Erie School Board. I am running to improve the quality of education for all students in Erie’s Public Schools by centering the needs of our community, educators, and school administrators from an equitable budgetary, support, and policy lens. I understand that the only way to progress is together; that requires meeting the unique social and educational needs of our students to increase their opportunities to thrive in our city and beyond.

Sara Deegan

Sara Deegan

Greensburg Salem School Board

My name is Sara Deegan, and I’m running for School Board because I believe access to equitable education can improve health and decrease poverty. Facts and data matter. Schools should evolve to meet student’s ever-changing needs to prepare them for the future, and build a longer table that welcomes people from all backgrounds. More organized communication would help those in the district feel part of the solution. I am committed and excited to do this work with the eight other board members.

Dana Barvinchak Williams

Dana Barvinchak Williams

Norwin School Board

I am Dana Barvinchak Williams and I’m running on a slate for Norwin School Board. I am a North Huntingdon native, a 1999 Norwin graduate, and have a 1st grader at Norwin. My focus is on inclusivity, I believe all students deserve a high-quality, well-rounded experience. Due to my background in mental health research, I would place a greater emphasis on eliminating the stigma of mental health in the community. I have a vested interest in the direction of Norwin, and I can’t wait to be your school board director.

Carrie McConnell Muñiz

Carrie McConnell Muñiz

Norwin School Board

I am Carrie McConnell Muñiz, and I’m running on a slate for Norwin School Board. I’m a Norwin ’92 graduate and have a long history here, my parents are Norwin ’65 grads, and my husband Julian and I are parents of five – three Norwin graduates in college and two currently at Norwin. My priorities are diversity, acceptance and inclusivity for all students. I want to ensure our community is a safe, accepting and positive place for the next generation. Our physical & mental health must be paramount in our schools.

Divine Lipscomb

Divine Lipscomb

State College Borough Council

I am running for a better State College. As a member of the 44% of state college residents living in poverty, it is important to have representation on council. This pandemic highlighted the economic disparities in-state college and the borough’s dependency of the university as a way of staying afloat. We need a stronger economy that will thrive even when Penn State closes. Finally, I am running as a member on a slate. Our plight for equitable Justice in all carceral, housing, and health matters.

Zakaria Sharif

Zakaria Sharif

Erie School Board

My name is Zakaria Sharif and I am running for Erie City School Board. Investing in our children’s education now means a vibrant future for Erie. To provide every child with the education they deserve, the Erie City School Board must have a vision, create structures to support that vision, and be accountable to the public. I want to serve the community that I have been a part of for twenty-two years. As a parent of four children and two enrolled in the Erie School district, my wife and I are actively involved in their education. We must advocate for our students at every opportunity.

Yukie King

Yukie King

Greensburg City Council

I’m Yukie (they/them), and I’m running on a slate for Greensburg City Council. We live in a society that forces people to be poor by threatening our homes, health, food, and schooling. Many people, frankly, hate the government because it doesn’t address their needs. Over 20% of Greensburg residents are currently in poverty, including my family. I want to make government work for us. That’s why I chose to run with this movement, to work with my community so that our needs are not only heard but acted upon.

Ceil Kessler

Ceil Kessler

Greensburg City Council

We need support for workers, for housing and human services, for transportation issues, for health issues like COVID, for environmental challenges, and for basic justice issues, and we’re better at everything when we do it together. I’m running on a slate for Greensburg City Council because I believe that I can help bring us together around important issues that matter to our families and our community. I believe we’re neighbors who care about each other, and who know that this city is better when we all succeed.
Tierra D. Williams

Tierra D. Williams

Ferguson Township Supervisor

I am running for Ferguson Township Supervisor for the future generations, and the advancement of State College. The events of 2020, like many of us, have made me ask the question, “What can I contribute to my community?“. There is a great deal that needs to be done between global pandemics, community relations, and police reform. I am determined to see that “Happy Valley” is indeed Happy For All.
Elspeth Kate Koehle

Elspeth Kate Koehle

Erie City Council

I decided to run for City Council because I have a progressive vision for our city. That vision relies on dismantling the club who want to do things the way they have always been done, and weeding out nepotism, cronyism, and big tax giveaways that don’t benefit residents. My personal platform is concentrated on anti-racism, equitable development, and safe, affordable housing. I look forward to enacting concrete policies to address these issues if I am elected.

Lauren Gillespie

Lauren Gillespie

Erie School Board

My name is Lauren Gillespie. I am running for Erie city school board to support students, families, teachers, and staff whose voices deserve to be heard. My background in education and finances will help steer balancing the budget and facilitating quality of education for our schools. Education is the foundation for success and our students deserve an education that works for them, not against them.

David Alford

David Alford

Rochester Borough Council

I have been a resident of Rochester for over 25 years and I have seen a lot of things change within that time period I also feel that this is the right time to get involved in local government. So I am running for City Council and these are a few of the reasons why, I want to strengthen the community by introducing incentives for businesses, increasing overall community safety, and helping create youth programs.

Richard Biever

Richard Biever

State College Borough Council

I’m running for borough council because the times demand progressive actions that benefit all residents of the borough, not just those who have steady jobs and comfortable housing. We have great economic disparities and unequal justice in Happy Valley and we can’t truly call it Happy until we address those issues.

Gopal Balachandran

Gopal Balachandran

State College Borough Council

I’m running for State College Borough Council because I’m tired of just complaining about things. I want a better, more inclusive, more walkable State College that is welcoming to all. A former public defender with over a decade experience in court, I am particularly interested in reimagining the community’s relationship with the police. As a father to two small elementary age kids, I’m also interested in issues like climate change and sustainability which will play a big part in their–and our–lives.

Mary Jane Jones-Gilliam

Mary Jane Jones-Gilliam

Ambridge Borough Council

My name is Mary Jane Jones-Gilliam I am seeking a seat on Ambridge Borough Council. To be an effective change in participatory and diversifying of governance to help it look more like the community  it  is responsible to serve.

Gretchen Myers

Gretchen Myers

Meadville City Council

I am running for city council because RIGHT NOW is the time for compassionate governance.  We do our best work when we actively listen, expand our understanding, and collaborate.  This must include council actively engaging its citizens.  This is how we evolve mature conversation and create good choices for all in our community.  When our informed and timely choices have vision, we have the possibility for a viable, livable, sustainable community.

Jaime Kinder

Jaime Kinder

Meadville Mayor

I am a mother of three, a small business owner and a lifelong resident of Meadville. Generations of my family have called Meadville home.  I’m running for Mayor because I want to advocate for people of all stripes, not just the privileged few. I’m committed to building a diverse and thriving downtown community for local businesses and residents, and to ensuring quality public spaces and the right to safe and affordable housing. Everyone who lives in our community, no matter what neighborhood, should enjoy safe housing and well-kept parks, streets and sidewalks.

Jack Harkless

Jack Harkless

Meadville City Council

I’m here to take on the issues that have been relegated for too long despite being in the interest of the hardworking majority of this town. I want to give a voice to those who have been ignored or overlooked. I want Meadville to flourish. I want the hard working people of this city to have a say in how we develop as a community. I want to see the renters in our town treated equally and fairly and to be protected. I want to see our public spaces grow and flourish and be filled with camaraderie. I want the people to know that our goals will always be their goals and that they will always be heard.

Benjamin Barger

Benjamin Barger

Crawford Central School Board

I am proud to run on a slate for Crawford Central School Board. There is an apparent lack of care that the district has for the students it holds. It seems that many of our elected board and those entrusted by our elected board are not encumbered by this moral dilemma. We are being led without care, without a sense of community. We are running for Crawford Central School board to help our district become truly great; not just in an academic sense, but in the true spirit of community and care.

Holly Chatman

Holly Chatman

Crawford Central School Board

My name is Holly Chatman and I am running on a cooperative slate for the Crawford Central School Board. I have learned through my time as a parent in the district that the policies and procedures can be confusing and hard to understand. I want to help parents navigate and advocate for their child’s education. I want to help bridge the gap between teachers, parents and administration to help ensure the success of our children’s future endeavors. Together I believe we can succeed.
Elyse Palmer

Elyse Palmer

Crawford Central School Board

My name is Elyse Palmer and I am running on a slate for Crawford Central School Board because our students need help. Decades of performance-based funding policies have reduced them, and those who teach them, to a test score; a score that shows only one fraction of who they are and what they are capable of.  It is time to bring humanity back to education. Our students deserve leaders who are invested in the success of every individual –  leaders who are willing to listen and learn about their many and varied needs, collaborate with staff to find creative solutions working within the system, and empower teachers to deliver the highest quality education possible.

Ryan Pickering

Ryan Pickering

Crawford Central School Board

I am running on a slate for Crawford Central School Board. I benefited from a well-funded, accessible, and inclusive public education and believe that all students deserve the same. Coming from a family of who work in public schools, I have seen first-hand how hard teachers and staff work; it’s critical that we support teachers and staff in their jobs. I believe that it is essential for the community to be involved and invested in the success of Crawford Central and that new leaders who are ready to listen to students, parents, teachers, and community members can make that happen.