2023 was an incredible year for our Ad Grants Program– with $50,000 being put forth to assist Democrats across the country in winning elections! Over 115 fantastic candidates with unique profiles and perspectives applied.
Without further ado, we’re proud to introduce 10 passionate, strategic, and inspiring candidates– aka DSPolitical’s 2023 Ad Grants Program Recipients!
Erasmo Ruiz is a first-generation college graduate with a strong belief in the power of public education. He holds degrees in Criminology and Criminal Justice and Education from Portland State University. Erasmo has a diverse background, including working as a student success advocate and teaching English and other serval subjects to elementary school-aged children in Spain. For the past six years, he has been involved in social services and currently serves as a social worker and mental health professional in the foster care system. He has also taken on leadership roles, such as being appointed as a commissioner for immigrant and refugee affairs in Pierce County, WA, and being elected as the second vice chair of the W.A. State 2nd legislative district Democrats. Additionally, he is active in his local community as a precinct committee officer and a member of the Bethel School District Career and Technical Education General Advisory Committee. Throughout his journey, Erasmo remains committed to the idea that education is a pathway to achieving the American dream and promoting equality. Learn more about Erasmo’s campaign here.
Leonard Lacey, originally from Alabama and a Virginia resident since 1971, is running for the 64th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. With a strong commitment to service, Leonard has spent over 30 years as a State Police Officer and is also the Founder and Senior Pastor of United Faith Christian Ministry in Stafford County. He serves as a Chaplain for the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Drug Enforcement Administration is a member of Stafford County’s Diversity Advisory Coalition, and actively volunteers at a local food pantry through United Faith Christian Ministry. As a proud father and a man who enjoys golfing, fishing, landscaping, and meaningful conversations, Leonard brings a wealth of experience and dedication to his candidacy. Learn more about Leonard’s campaign here.
Lisa Brown is a dedicated advocate for Spokane, Washington, with a diverse background as an economist, educator, civic leader, and former state legislator. She has a deep love for Spokane’s people, neighborhoods, and quality of life, often spending weekends hiking with her husband or enjoying the city’s parks with her grandson. Lisa’s recent role as the Director of the Washington State Department of Commerce saw her championing clean energy development, broadband expansion, and attainable housing. She also played a significant role in establishing the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, expanding healthcare access in the region. With over two decades of experience in the Washington Legislature, including serving as Senate Majority Leader, Lisa has a strong track record in strengthening Spokane’s economy, environmental conservation, and job creation. Her academic background includes a Ph.D. in Economics, and she is a first-generation college graduate. Learn more about Lisa’s campaign here.
Idalia Lechuga-Tena, a proud dual citizen of the USA and México, grew up in Albuquerque, where she developed a strong work ethic. Fluent in four languages, she graduated from Highland High School and the University of New Mexico with degrees in Economics, Political Science, and International Politics. She made history as the youngest female legislator and the first naturalized woman from México to serve in the New Mexico Legislature, representing Albuquerque’s District 21. Idalia is passionate about community service, currently serving as Vice-President of Meals on Wheels of New Mexico and working to bridge the gap between the community and the police department. Her passion lies in promoting her community, tackling important issues such as food insecurity, and helping those most in need. Learn more about Idalia’s campaign here.
Julia Marvin is a passionate advocate for civic engagement with degrees in news broadcasting and political science. With over a decade of diverse marketing and communications experience, she successfully revitalized the Adams County Young Democrats and won a seat on the Thornton City Council in 2019, increasing voter turnout by 8%. Her vision as Mayor includes building a strong economy, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods, improved transportation, diversity, and environmental preservation. Julia is known for her innovative, collaborative, and values-driven leadership, making her the right choice to lead Thornton forward. Learn more about Julia’s campaign here.
Deborah Whitfield and her late husband moved to Lawrence almost 30 years ago and raised their children in Lawrence Township schools. She has worked her entire career for Community Health Network, first as a respiratory therapist and currently as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She has a long record of expanding services and care to diverse populations across Marion County. Deb was inspired to run for local office after volunteering for Democratic campaigns during and after the 2016 election. She was elected to the Lawrence Common Council At-Large in 2019 and serves as Chair of the Public Safety Committee. Deb currently serves as a Board Member at The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Indianapolis and the Fort Benjamin Harrison YMCA. She is also a member of The Links, Inc. and a former Board Member of Martin University. Deb’s priorities as Mayor include bringing more growth and economic opportunities to Lawrence, working with public safety officials to keep our city safe, and making city spending more equitable so that we can effectively serve all of Lawrence—no matter your neighborhood or income. Learn more about Deb’s campaign here.
Brandon Sakbun, an Army Ranger who was born and raised in Terre Haute, embodies the American Dream. His mother immigrated from Jamaica, and his father, a local OBGYN, came to the United States from Cambodia. Brandon is a decorated veteran who completed two deployments in the Middle East and now serves in the Indiana National Guard. A public school substitute teacher with a finance degree from the IU Kelley School of Business, he is running for Mayor because, after 16 years of the same leadership, we need new ideas and new energy to turn Terre Haute around.” Learn more about Brandon’s campaign here.
Aime Wichtendahl made history as the first openly transgender woman elected to government in Iowa. Her journey began with her election to the Hiawatha City Council in 2015, and she went on to secure re-election in 2019. In the 2023 legislative session, Aime emerged as a dedicated advocate, fervently opposing the 31 anti-LGBTQ bills put forth by the legislature. She fearlessly testified against these bills in the Senate Subcommittee hearing and took the lead in organizing a rally in front of the Capitol on March 5 to champion LGBTQ rights. In her role on the Hiawatha City Council, Aime has been a proponent of new business development, initiatives to raise the minimum wage, property tax reductions, and the implementation of new infrastructure and recreational projects for the community’s benefit.
Sam Berger, a proud husband and father of two daughters, is driven by a deep commitment to creating a thriving environment in Queens for children of all backgrounds. His blend of personal and professional experiences equips him with the determination to tirelessly serve his community. Running for the Assembly, Sam believes in the transformative power of the law and its impact on lives. With a legal background and a community-centered perspective, he aims to navigate the complexities of Albany and enact laws that benefit his constituents. His vision for District 27 focuses on three critical areas: education, public safety, and affordability. Sam aims to enhance the quality of both public and private education, advocate for after-school programs, make New York more affordable, and promote well-paying jobs to strengthen the local community. His dedication to public safety, shaped by experiences in the Queens County Supreme Court Criminal term, particularly with gun crimes, underscores his commitment to the safety and well-being of his neighborhood. Learn more about Sam’s campaign here.
Here at DSPolitical, we have witnessed firsthand Karl Frisch’s work ethic and dedication to his community in the work he’s done with us as our press consultant. It is a source of great pride for us to offer our support to his campaign through a well-deserved grant. Karl is a dedicated public policy advocate and non-profit executive who has made significant contributions as a member of the Fairfax County School Board. Karl has a national reputation for his work on various policy issues, including land conservation, consumer financial protection, voting rights, and immigration reform. As the Executive Director of Allied Progress, he fought against predatory payday lenders and unscrupulous student loan processors during the Trump administration. Karl’s earlier career included work in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he helped expose congressional corruption. In 2019, he made history by becoming the first openly LGBTQIA+ person elected to local office in Virginia’s largest county. During his tenure on the School Board, Karl has championed numerous causes, such as addressing COVID learning loss, increasing teacher and staff pay, promoting equity and inclusion, and advocating for collective bargaining for teachers and school staff. He also serves on various committees and has received awards for his policy work, recognizing his dedication to the community. Learn more about Karl’s campaign here.