AFGE Members, Former Members Running for Office This Election

Categories: The Insider, Election 2020

With the fate of our union and, indeed, democracy on the line, this November election will be one of the most, if not the most, consequential in history. That’s why we are excited to report that at least four AFGE members and former members are stepping up and running for office this election season. 

We are urging union members to vote for pro-union candidates who understand our fight for good jobs, fair treatment, and economic justice. The labor movement had so much success in 2018 with more than 700 union members elected. It was a huge victory for all of us when anti-union zealots like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker met with poetic justice and was defeated by a former teacher. We can repeat our success again next month. 

Here’s a list of some of the AFGE members and former members our union has endorsed. Most had to quit their government jobs in order to run for office, demonstrating their dedication to victory.

Members 

  • Georgia State Senate District 23: Ceretta Smith 
  • Georgia's 3rd Congressional District: Valbrun Almonord 

Former members 

  • Michigan's 3rd Congressional District: Hillary Scholten
  • D.C. City Council Ward 4: Janeese Lewis George 

You can also check out over 250 other pro-labor candidates we’ve endorsed here

Valbrun Almonord and Ceretta Smith have retired from their federal jobs but remain AFGE members. Almonord currently serves as a legislative and political coordinator for AFGE Local 54 at Fort Benning, GA. Before her retirement from the Army, Ceretta served as AFGE Local 2017 president and other union positions.

Hillary Scholten was a shop steward for AFGE Local 3525 when she worked at the Justice Department. Janeese Lewis George was a member of AFGE Local 1403 when she worked for the D.C. government’s attorney general office.

Why is it important to elect pro-labor candidates? 

Because they’ve fought with us and understand our struggles. 

Ceretta Smith, for example, was a true labor activist when she served as president of AFGE Local 2017 as well as other local positions – Women’s and Fair Practices coordinator, chief steward, legislative political coordinator, and Georgia State Council (C-39) president. 

“She was always boots on the ground. I was in several meeting with her. She really fights hard for the people, she always has,” Local 2017 President Larissa Ranaldson said of Smith. Ranaldson served as vice president when Smith was local president. “We had several cases where we actually won, where she got people their jobs back. She fought hard and relentless and spent a number of hours. She fought a lot of battles for us. She helped people get their pay grade increases.”

Ranaldson and members of her local have been canvassing for votes for Smith. For them, it’s highly important to get pro-union candidates like Smith elected. 

“She knows what we are going through,” Ranaldson added. “It gives us a voice.”

That sentiment is shared by Nancy Sykes, president of AFGE Local 3525 and a Justice Department attorney.

“It’s important to elect pro-union candidates because we have an administration who is hellbent on destroying unions, who doesn’t understand what unions contribute. And Hillary does!” she explained.

Sykes was referring to Hillary Scholten, a fellow attorney who was also the local’s shop steward. She met Scholten for the first time in 2015 at a high-level immigration training given by the young Scholten herself. Scholten greatly impressed Sykes with her ability to connect with her audience and understand their needs.

Even though their time in the local didn’t overlap, Sykes said it was a selfless act for Scholten to volunteer to be a steward to help make life better for her coworkers. A former local officer who worked with Scholten when she was shop steward agreed.

“She was a strong advocate for the least powerful folks in the bargaining unit, primarily legal support and clerk’s office staff,” the former officer said. “We were fortunate to have her as a steward.”

AFGE National President Everett Kelley said pro-worker candidates understand the struggles that federal employees and union members working on the front lines face. They understand the importance of collective bargaining and representational rights for all workers.

“AFGE members know the power of solidarity, and how it can change lives for the better,” he said. “For the future of our union and our democracy, let’s get out the labor vote!”

You have the power! 

Check out AFGE’s 2020 Election Center and elect candidates who will work with us and for us. 


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