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Silver State Equality Announces Endorsements for Pro-Equality Candidates in 2024
May 23, 2024 at 10:11 pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2024

CONTACT: Melissa Warren, Faiss Foley Warren for Silver State Equality
PHONE: (702) 528-6016/MOBILE: (702) 528-6016/EMAIL: press@silverstateequality.org

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Ahead of the June 11, 2024 Primary Election, Silver State Equality, Nevada’s statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights advocacy nonprofit, today announced the endorsement of ten pro-equality candidates for Las Vegas City Council, Nevada State Assembly, Clark County Commission, Washoe County Commission and the Clark County School District Board of Trustees.  

“By electing to office those who will protect the rights of all they serve, including LGBTQ+ people, we are making our voices heard and ensuring a world that is fair, just and fully equal for us and generations to follow,” said André C. Wade, State Director for Silver State Equality. “We deserve lawmakers and leaders who will continue to lead the charge in the ongoing fight for full, lived equality. Members of the LGBTQ+ community and our pro-equality allies are showing up in competitive races for seats in the legislature, on school boards, and on city councils. Silver State Equality is proud to stand behind these candidates, and we look forward to supporting a strong slate of pro-equality candidates heading into the June primary and November general elections.” 

Silver State Equality is proud to endorse:

Nevada State Assembly

Ryan Hampton / Nevada State Assembly District 4*

Ryan Hampton is a fierce bipartisan advocate, author and nonprofit organizer, who works to end toxic politics and to find solutions that “make real change for Nevada’s hard-working middle class.” Following years of working on the national level as an addiction recovery advocate, and a person in long-term recovery himself, Hampton founded a Nevada-based nonprofit that assists people with addiction and mental health challenges. If elected to the State Assembly, he will work on behalf of all Nevadans for affordable healthcare, job creation, better education, individual liberties, reproductive freedom, and LGBTQ+ rights. Hampton, who lives with his husband Sean in Southern Nevada’s District 4, will be an important voice for equality in the Nevada State Assembly.

Mishon Montgomery / Nevada State Assembly District 17*

If elected, Mishon Montgomery will be the first Black out LGBTQ+ woman to serve in the Nevada State Assembly. A wife, mother, US Air Force veteran with 20 years’ service, and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) professional, Montgomery is committed to bringing forward legislation to support veterans, empower the LGBTQ+ community, lower healthcare costs and protect the fundamental freedoms of our democracy. She holds a Master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in public policy and governance, and she maintains DEI certifications from Cornell University and Coach Diversity Institute. Following her military service, she partnered with numerous organizations to produce effective, culture-changing strategies and to motivate leaders to meet the demands of a rapidly diversifying workplace and community. Montgomery is a Silver State Equality board member. 

Las Vegas City Council

Brian Knudsen / Las Vegas City Council Ward 1*

Brian Knudsen will continue to be an important voice for equality on the Las Vegas City Council. Elected to the City Council representing Ward 1 in 2019, Knudsen was named Mayor Pro Tem in 2022, serving on boards and committees that directly impact the growth and infrastructure of Las Vegas. He serves as a member of the Regional Transportation Commission, Southern Nevada Health District, Southern Nevada Community Health Center, Springs Preserve, National League of Cities Large City Council and LGBTQ Council, Network Adequacy Advisory Council, Commission on Nuclear Projects, and Regional Flood Control District. Knudsen is continuing his work to build a community that ensures equal opportunity, has great schools, provides strong public safety, preserves our neighborhoods, and strives to be world- class.  Knudsen, who will be honored at Silver State Equality’s 2024 Equality Awards, is married. He and his husband have two children.

Reno City Council

Devon Reese / Reno City Council, Ward 5*

Silver State Equality is proud to offer a pro-forma endorsement for Devon Reese who is running for Reno City Council from Ward 5, where he has lived for more than 35 years. Reese has been an at-large council member since 2019 – a seat which was eliminated due to redistricting. Reese will continue to be an important voice for equality on the Reno City Council. The only openly LGBTQ+ member of the Council, he has been a staunch supporter of those communities most affected by inequality and injustice. Working from the core belief that the function of a community is to provide for the most vulnerable, he has worked to find solutions for more affordable housing, neighborhood improvement, smart growth management, public safety, and support for first responders.

Clark County Commission

Hunter Cain / Clark County Commission, District C* (dual endorsement)

Hunter Cain will provide crucial representation as the first openly LGBTQ+ Clark County Commissioner. If elected, he also will be the first combat veteran to serve on the commission in nearly 30 years in addition to being the first licensed foster parent. With service to country and community at the very core of Cain’s belief system, he is a decorated disabled combat veteran having served in Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn as well as a member of the Nevada National Guard. For more than five years Cain served as Director of Community Outreach for Congresswoman Dina Titus where he helped thousands of Southern Nevadans find social and mental health services and helped secure more than $2 million in federal benefits for those in need. As a commissioner, Cain will be a progressive leader focusing on affordable and homeless housing, advocating on behalf of marginalized communities, advancing quality education, small business development, renewable energy and veterans’ issues.  

Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod / Clark County Commission, District C (dual endorsement)

Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod is a third generation Nevadan with deep roots in the community and Nevada politics. In her four terms in the Nevada State Assembly, she served on committees for Government Affairs, Legislative Operations and Elections, Transportation, Growth and Infrastructure, and Judiciary. Additionally, she has served as Vice-Chair of the Natural Resources Committee and Chair of the Education Committee. She was a co-sponsor of the Trust Nevada Women Act and passionately believes that women’s health care decisions should be between women and their doctors. Bilbray-Axelrod strongly believes in pursuing a more equitable and just reality for all Nevadans. – one that includes quality education, job opportunities, protected reproductive rights, public safety, affordable healthcare, and modern infrastructure. As a member of the Clark County Commission, she will continue to be will an important voice for equality.

Washoe County Commission

Alexis Hill / Washoe County Commission, District 1

Silver State Equality is proud to provide a pro-forma endorsement for Alexis Hill who is running for re-election for Washoe County Commission District 1. She has served as Chair of the Washoe County Commission since 2020, and if re-elected, will continue to be an important voice for equality on the Washoe County Commission. A passionate advocate for government accountability, transparency and access, Hill focuses on smart growth, sustainability, and conservation. Bringing her lifelong commitment to community enrichment to the Commission, she has fought for homeless services and affordable and workforce housing, expanding mental healthcare services and services for working families. 

Clark County School District Board of Trustees

Kamilah Bywaters / Clark County School District Board of Trustees District E

In a time when school boards are under attack, Kamilah Bywaters will be a fearless advocate for all students. A graduate of Rancho High School and the daughter of a lifelong teacher who taught her the value of an education, Bywaters is a licensed special education teacher who taught for several years; she is also a community activist and a doctoral student. She currently serves as president of the Las Vegas Alliance of Black School Educators; education chair of the National Action Network, Las Vegas Chapter; and a Subcommittee Member of the Nevada Office of Minority Health and Equity, Black Leadership Advisory Council. Her experiences in the field, the classroom and leadership have well-prepared her for a role as Trustee.  As Clark County continues to grow and change, the school district needs optimistic, goal-oriented leaders willing to work tirelessly to ensure every child receives a quality public education, and Bywaters is that leader. 

Karl Catarata / Clark County School District Board of Trustees District A* (dual endorsement)

Rooted in a deep belief that every child deserves the opportunity to succeed, Karl Catarata will be an important voice for equality and common-sense leadership on the CCSD Board of Trustees – prioritizing student achievement and workforce development. A native Nevadan and Nevada state director of the Human Rights Campaign, Catarata is an experienced public servant, nonprofit professional and mentor with a rich history of service at various levels of Nevada government including as a staff member for Las Vegas Councilman Brian Knudsen and as a district representative for U.S. Rep. Susie Lee. The son of a CCSD teacher, Catarata is a graduate of Valley High School, who worked his way through college at UNLV in addition to securing certificates in leadership from UNLV and education finance strategy from McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. Catarata is an experienced leader whose values are shaped by a commitment to youth and a vision for a better future.

Mercedes McKinley / Clark County School District Board of Trustees District A* (dual endorsement)

Mercedes McKinley is an educator, mom, CCSD alumni and a community organizer who is committed to improving the state of education in Clark County by working to change the system from the top down. If elected, McKinley’ priorities will be to address the district’s teacher shortage; advocate for more state and federal grant funding as well as philanthropist outreach, streamlining red tape for community partnerships and focusing on student access to mental health and social services. McKinley is a graduate of Eldorado High School and Southern Illinois University. She taught environmental science at CSN Henderson and elementary education at CCSD schools from 2018-2021. ​In the last year, she worked as a community organizer for a national environmental non-profit: Mom’s Clean Air Force. An organization that fights for clean air policy as it relates to children’s health.

*Indicates out LGBTQ+ candidates.

For a complete list of Silver State Equality’s endorsements and endorsement process and guidelines please visit: silverstateequality.org/elections.

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As Nevada’s statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, Silver State Equality brings the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in Nevada and throughout the U.S. Silver State Equality strives to create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. Silver State Equality is a Nevada-based program affiliated with and supported by Equality California and Equality California Institute, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization.  More information at SilverStateEquality.org.


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