When North Carolina’s HB2 became the first state level anti-transgender “bathroom bill” to pass, we were left wondering how things would have been different if there were an LGBT voice present in the legislature. We decided to host our Candidate & Campaign Training in Charlotte this June to help train openly LGBT community leaders to run for public office, understanding that when LGBT people are elected, laws like HB2 are much more likely to be stopped.

One elected official who understands just how much LGBT representation matters is LaWana Mayfield, who serves on the Charlotte City Council. Through her work on the council and with the National League of Cities, LaWana shares Victory’s goal of changing the face and voice of American politics in order to enact progress for LGBT people. We spoke with LaWana about her experience as a candidate and elected official in North Carolina, the dynamics in the state post-HB2 and what participants can expect at a Candidate & Campaign Training.

Victory: How did you first decide to run for office?

I was working with a local LGBT advocacy group, and we were trying to identify someone openly LGBT to run for office, and I was part of that first committee. But I think my team had a meeting without me where they let me know they decided that I should actually be the one to run. So I had never heard of Victory prior to when I was looking to run. My campaign began in March, and there was a Victory training less than five weeks later. Friends and family pulled together to help get me to the training, because it was such a short turn around for me to go through this intensive, weekend-long training.

Victory: So what happens during the Victory Candidate & Campaign Trainings?

Mayfield: Since I had no idea what it looked like to even consider running for office, for me the first thing was being in a room with all of these other people like me who were openly identifying as lesbian, gay and bisexual that said, “Hey, I want to run for office!” or “I want to work on a campaign!” We received this booklet that was filled with information with everything from fundraising and beyond, and how you actually do that work.

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