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Here we are. Week five in our ongoing Read. Resist. Vote. series (you can find week one here, week two here, week three here, and week four here). Below, you can get the lowdown on two more candidates. We’re inching ever closer to election day and we hope the interviews below get you fired up to vote, wherever you are.
P.S. A very special thanks to The Guerilla Politic for connecting us with one of this week’s candidates.
Natalie Price — Michigan — Michigan House of Representatives District 5
Hi, I’m Natalie Price, and I’m running to represent us in the Michigan House. When I moved here with my husband and two young children, I, like all of us, craved support and connection. I needed a “village,” but I didn’t realize that my village would need me, too. I signed up for the local parent-tot class only to learn that there was no teacher — and decided to step up and teach. I became the Administrative Vice President of the MOMS Club when they needed someone to lead service projects. I heard of plans to build a free play space for children under five — a project that needed an organizer — and became a co-creator of the Backyard Playroom. I found the connection I was looking for. More importantly, I learned just how much we can accomplish in our communities when we value our diversity, combine our strengths, and work together.
Since then, I’ve served on the Berkley City Council as a progressive voice for our residents. Now, I’m ready to serve the rest of our district, from Birmingham to Detroit. Investing in our communities means building upon the strengths of our diverse district and the various races, cultures, and religions we belong to, and creating a future that benefits every one of us. It means giving each child a safe, resource-rich environment to grow up in, making our communities intentionally inclusive, and providing everyone a chance to thrive.
Does feminism play a role in your work? If so, how do you define feminism?
I come from a long line of strong women who were decisive and bold when problems arose, and this “grit” is what our communities need to bounce back after a challenging few years. My mom went back to school full-time after her divorce to become a social worker and is always caring and advocating for vulnerable members of our community. My Grandma Marie, the oldest of nine, began raising her siblings at age 14 after her mom died in childbirth, even driving her dad’s grocery delivery truck and regularly visiting her sister who was in the hospital with polio. Later, she looked after my brother and me when my parents divorced, and became an informal community organizer — knowing the strengths of the people around her and connecting them with the needs of others. I define feminism as intentional recognition, appreciation, support, and compensation for the work that women in our society do and have always done.
What would you say is the driving force that inspires you to run for office?
My mom and Grandma Marie showed me how to lean on my community, leverage the strengths we bring from our different backgrounds and identities, and always look for opportunities when times are tough. Their influence shaped my desire to become a teacher and empower students to achieve their goals, and later to serve my community as a volunteer and Berkley City Councilmember. Being involved in my community and seeing the everyday needs and challenges facing my neighbors has taught me more about strength and leadership than any degree or job could. I’m proud to be doing work that strengthens our neighborhoods and brightens our collective future, and even prouder to be working alongside so many incredible friends, neighbors, and fellow community leaders in the process. Together, we can overcome anything.
Given the current political climate and the drastic shift in protections of reproductive rights, how are you motivating voters to make it out to the polls?
I am out knocking on hundreds of doors a week for candidates in competitive districts. The number one issue that voters want to discuss is the fight for reproductive freedom. I’ve spoken with many Republican men who tell me that they have never voted for a Democrat before, but this November they will do so because they want their lawmakers to stay out of the very personal decisions about reproductive issues. I express deep gratitude for their willingness to shift their habits in order to ensure personal freedoms and safety for their daughters and granddaughters.
What are you reading?
I am currently reading All Good People Here, the New York Times Bestseller by debut novelist Ashley Flowers.
What’s it about?
All Good People Here is a psychological thriller and mystery, driven by strong and complex female characters. In it, Flowers explores some of the challenges posed by women acting as full-time caregivers, both to young children and an adult struggling with early-onset dementia. I can’t help but wonder how the story would turn out differently if the protagonists had more recognition and support from society in the process. I don’t yet know how the novel ends; nevertheless, I am confident that the stories of these women, their struggles and outcomes, will inspire action that will lead to more recognition and support for real women around us.
Where can we donate?
You can also learn more about Natalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Karla Hernández — Florida — Lieutenant Governor of Florida
Born and raised in Hialeah to immigrants from Honduras, Karla Hernández is a first-generation American and the first person in her family to graduate from college. Growing up, Karla learned the values of hard work and opportunity from her dad, who picked tomatoes in the Everglades as a farmworker, before becoming a carpenter.
Since 2016, Karla has served as the President of the United Teachers of Dade, the largest teachers’ union in the southeastern United States. Prior to becoming president, Karla served as UTD’s Secretary-Treasurer from 2013-2016. Before that, Karla worked as a classroom teacher for over 10 years teaching special needs children, and in 2010 she was selected as Teacher of the Year at Hialeah Middle School.
In 2018, Hernandez led the charge to mobilize teachers and the Miami-Dade community, helping to pass Referendum #362, an initiative put forth by the United Teachers of Dade to give public school teachers a salary raise and improve security in schools — winning more than 70 percent of the vote.
Karla Hernández holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University in Emotionally Handicapped Education and a master’s degree in Business Management from St. Thomas University. She is happily married and the mother of two. Hernández grew up in the church and she has volunteered her time for humanitarian efforts overseas.
What would you say is the driving force that inspires you to run for office?
I would say my children and my community. My children inspire me to be better and my community has enabled me to become who I am today.
Given the current political climate, particularly in Florida, how are you motivating voters to make it out to the polls?
I have had the opportunity to meet with communities across the state for the past few months listening to their struggles, their needs, and their vision for Florida and there is always a recurring theme in my conversations — people want better. I want better.
I might be a candidate for Lt. Governor today, but I am also a teacher and a union leader. Their struggles are my struggles. I understand my community’s needs and the challenges they are facing because they are the same ones I might experience.
I am a Latina, a daughter of immigrants, a first-generation college graduate, a union leader, and a teacher — I represent our community. And for the past two decades, I have spent my professional career working in the communities advocating for what my Dad likes to call “just causes.”
My story has been very helpful when speaking to voters because they see me, and not a politician looking to collect votes.
When I talk about my children and the type of future I want for them, people can relate to that on a personal level. I want my children to be able to receive a quality education from top-tier educators. I want my children to be able to grow proud of their Hispanic heritage. I want my children to be able to live in Miami, the city they call home, and not have to leave because of rising costs. I want my young girl to be able to grow to have the same rights as I did at her age. I do not want to see her feel less simply because she is a woman and has no rights like DeSantis is attempting to do. I want my children to be able to vote and raise their voices without fear.
This is the Florida Charlie and I envision, and the Florida our voters are excited to build alongside us.
How has your work in education prepared you for the role you’re running for?
I always say: The classroom is a microcosm of the community in which you live. I have been preparing for this moment for decades now. Whenever a child comes into my classroom hungry, I know there is an issue at home that may be driven by a more systemic problem that needs to be remedied.
What is the impact you would hope to have on education policy if elected?
Our public education system is under attack. We need to invest in our public education system and support our teachers to ensure we can retain quality educators. We are number 49 in teacher pay and are experiencing a massive teacher shortage. We need to increase teacher salaries and pay our teachers what they deserve; we need to treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve. Our teachers are educating our future leaders, yet we fail to acknowledge the role they play.
Our schools must be safe spaces; not only do we need to invest in safety measures and protocols to prevent gun violence and other horrible casualties from occurring, but we also need to make sure our students have the mental health resources they need so teachers, parents, and school staff can better help and support our students experiencing mental health issues. We need to invest in school counselors and mental health resources; this is pivotal to ensure the well-being of our students and better serve those who are experiencing issues that could eventually lead to worse problems.
Our schools need to be safe environments where our students can grow, thrive, and express themselves. The Don’t Say Gay bill should have never happened. As Lt. Governor, I will commit to ensuring our schools become safe havens for students across the state where they can express their individuality and be their true selves.
Our teachers need to have the freedom to teach their students accurate and factual information; they should not have to teach what others believe to be true. As Lt. Governor, our teachers will have the ability to teach that which is true without fear of retaliation. There is no space for politics in our classrooms.
Charlie and I promise to guarantee a world-class education system for every child in Florida and uplift our education system to guarantee every Floridian access to high-quality education.
Where can we donate?
To help us defeat Ron DeSantis, you can visit www.charliecrist.com.
You can also learn more about Karla on Twitter and Instagram.