Meet the Association of Secular Elected Officials

Election Day (Tuesday, November 2, 2021) is just around the corner and although you may not be hearing about it as much as 2020, it’s still important, as numerous gubernatorial elections, state legislative special elections, citizen initiatives, mayoral races, and other local elections will be taking place. Each election has long-term impacts on your region so it’s essential to check your registration, know what will be on your ballot, and prepare your voting plan. And if you can help others—by sharing information, providing assistance to/from polling sites, with absentee ballots, etc.—that’s even better.

Leading up to Election Day, the American Humanist Association (AHA) invites you to join our next Speaking of Humanism event on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 6:30-8pm ET, as we present  “Representation Matters: Secular Elected Officials Speak Out”. This free public event will be held on Zoom and Facebook Live, and the recording will be shared on the AHA YouTube Channel and AHA Center for Education website. You’ll hear from leaders of the Association of Secular Elected Officials (ASEO) about how humanist individuals and groups can make a difference in our country’s political system. Whether it’s sharing information, running for office, engaging with candidates and elected officials, or getting active in party politics, you can support the mission of ASEO, helping to grow the network of secular elected officials and the constituents supporting them.

At the beginning of 2016, there were only ten legislators known to be publicly nontheist. Thanks to the efforts of the Center for Freethought Equality, the political and advocacy arm of the AHA, there are now over 80 legislators at the federal, state, and local level who identify with our community. In 2018, Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA)—AHA’s 2020 Humanist of the Year—founded the Congressional Freethought Caucus to promote sound public policy based on reason, science, and moral values while protecting the secular character of government and championing the value of freedom of thought worldwide. Although 26% of Americans are religiously unaffiliated (the largest and fastest-growing religious demographic), we continue to be severely underrepresented in public office. We must increase our representation to eliminate the stigma of being openly nontheist and make sure we have a seat at the table to impact policy and voice our concerns. The ASEO is an important part of making that happen.

Meet are our panelists for the event:

ASEO Board Member Kristiana de Leon serves on the Planning/Community Services Committee and Budget/Finance/Administration Committee on the City Council in Black Diamond, Washington, where she openly identifies as an atheist and Secular Humanist. “As a proud humanist who sees the precious urgency of now and of this lifetime, it is so critical that we continue to recognize our strength as a movement, especially as it relates to our own unique perspectives, informed by both our stories and by reason.” She was elected to the four-year position in 2019 and has spent her time working on issues related to diversity and inclusion, transportation, environmental concerns, and lobbying for the needs of her neighbors through working with additional state and federal offices.

ASEO Treasurer Danny Choriki is currently a member of the Billings City Council in Montana and has worked to advance public policy driven by science and data. An environmental social scientist, Choriki encourages humans to pay more attention to long-term dangers, such as climate change. He has been a humanist all of his life and has been the President of the Billings Association of Humanists since 2013. “We live in a time of intense economic and social change driven by technological, cultural, and market forces. We must face these changes with hope in the future, faith in each other, and public policies that are driven by outcomes and not by ideology. We have the abilities and the knowledge to create a better future for everyone.”

ASEO Board Member Sherry Dutzy was appointed to and now chairs the Nashua Conservation Commission. After the 2016 Presidential election, Dutzy and a friend decided to get involved in politics and won seats in their ward as Selectmen, aka elected poll workers. In 2018, she ran and won her seat as a State Representative. She is now serving her second term in the New Hampshire House representing Hillsborough 30, Nashua Ward 3. In the legislature, she has supported increased funding for public education, increasing the minimum wage, reducing drug prices, and supporting reproductive rights. As a member of the Environment and Agriculture Committee, she works on solid waste management issues, animal protection, and farming and conservation practices. She identifies as a nonbeliever, secular/humanist.

Ron Millar is the Political and PAC Coordinator at the Center for Freethought Equality. He researches and interviews political candidates and elected officials for possible endorsement by the Freethought Equality Fund, whose goal is to increase the number of open atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers in public office. Millar has spent more than thirty years in the Washington, DC area working for nonprofit education and advocacy groups, including serving as the associate director of the Secular Coalition for America from 2005 to 2009.

Sarah M. Levin is the founder of Secular Strategies, a consulting firm that is pioneering the mobilization of secularist voters and empowering policymakers, lawmakers, and change-makers to be effective champions of secularism in the United States. Levin worked for the Secular Coalition for America from 2013–2019 in various roles, including Director of Grassroots and Community Programs and Director of Governmental Affairs. In 2016, she facilitated the establishment of the first-ever Secular Caucus in the Texas Democratic Party and worked with secular Democrats to get three secular policy resolutions incorporated into the party’s platform. Levin proudly represents the secular community as a Co-Chair on the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) Interfaith Council. She helped to pass a resolution at the DNC in 2019 that expressly welcomes religiously unaffiliated voters into the party, recognizing their values and historic marginalization.

We hope you’ll join us on Zoom and Facebook Live on Wednesday, October 27 to meet the Association of Secular Elected Officials and get inspired to engage with our democracy before, during, and after each Election Day.