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Local Activists Mentoring LGBTQ People to Run for Office

Politicians nationwide are preparing to begin midterm election campaigns as 2017 comes to an end.

Burton, Mich.

Politicians nationwide are preparing to begin midterm election campaigns as 2017 comes to an end.

In Mid-Michigan, the chairperson for the Equality Caucus of Genesee County, Nicole Derusha-Mackey, is grooming LGBTQ community members to run for office. The activist is focusing on local positions like city council, the school board and town trustee. She says while local elections are often overlooked, those decisions can effect the LGBTQ community as much as national ones.

"Everything starts at the local level" Derusha-Mackey says.

She says the fight for equality didn't end with gay marriage.

"In the state of Michigan you can still be fired for being LGBT."

Burton resident Genevieve Field is one of the leaders Derusha-Mackey is helping.

"It's helpful to have that voice that says this is going to hurt this group of people" Field says.

Field, a transgender woman, is considering running for Burton City Council in its next election. In the meantime, she's working to get the city to pass a non-discrimination ordinance. Field says inclusion will bring more business.

"Younger people want to go somewhere that is tolerant and has a diverse group of people" Field says.

She says she's not trying to push a so-called "gay agenda", she just wants to give her perspective which might be different than other leaders.

Flint resident Quentin Groce says he understands the value of local representation, especially considering Flint's water crisis.

"It's not the federal government that's going to help deal with us on that level" Groce says.

Groce recently bought his house. He says that has helped change his perspective. Groce says he wants to vote for someone who will fight for him and his neighbors, while not forgetting the LGBTQ community.

"It doesn't matter if that individual is republican or moderate or green party or Democrat. The thing for me is making sure they share those values" he says.

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