Derek Marshall
Derek Marshall
Candidate, U.S. House California District 23
Democrat
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I’m running for Congress in California’s 23rd because the High Desert needs fighters. Prices are skyrocketing, wages are dropping, and we’re all tired of the stalemates and gridlock that are holding up our recovery.
Just like many in our community, I’ve felt the sting of our broken system, a system that leaves people like us behind. I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck sometimes even worse than that. There’s been days when the only things I could eat were a 20 cent banana and a free sample coffee from Trader Joes. I was working hard – working full time but I wasn’t living in dignity – I was starving. I watched my cousin get denied life saving hospital care unless he made an up front payment. Yet, he got the same care for free overseas where they don’t have a cruel for profit healthcare system. I’m also a gay man in American and while some progress has been made, there’s still a long way to go in order to ensure folks like me find equity and justice in our system of government.
Frankly, I’m angry and frustrated by these experiences, just like I’m sure many of you are but…
I'm an organizer, I'm a community activist, I try to help my neighbors, that's what I do, that’s what gives me joy in life. So I'm taking action and I’m running because I don't want my friends and neighbors to go through the same struggles and injustices I’ve experienced.
Derek Marshall is an openly gay progressive Democrat and political organizer running to represent the people of the High Desert, the valley, and the mountains.
Growing up in the Marshall house meant learning the value of community service early. Derek and his two younger siblings spent their childhood Saturdays helping their parents with a weekly homeless outreach program called “Soup to Go,” which provided meals, supplies, and solidarity to people who’d been disenfranchised and dismissed from society.
In 2006—after graduating from American University, where he studied politics and international relations—Derek moved to Germany to help found a global research initiative alongside the United Nations, Making Commitments Matter. The initiative developed a framework to hold individual countries accountable to the various UN conventions and resolutions they had committed to as member nations, by leveraging funds granted by the European Union’s Youth in Action program. In a major success for global health and human rights, 35 countries ultimately joined the initiative.
After finishing his work with the UN, Derek then became an early part of the online travel agency KAYAK. As the Director of Internationalization, he managed a team to acquire and ensure quality control, manage accessibility, and oversee the localization process across the company’s various international assets. Before leaving, Derek also led the effort to open KAYAK’s Berlin headquarters, still one of the company’s largest offices in the world.
While living in Europe and traveling around the globe on business, Derek got a firsthand look at how governments can effectively care for its citizens through robust social programs, and gained insights into the way these social safety nets increased the quality of life for people in every income bracket, and ultimately led to more freedom and liberty for citizens. This stood in stark contrast to the austerity economics of modern America, where everything–from healthcare to education to infrastructure–has been steadily chipped away at and privatized for generations.
This contrast ultimately compelled Derek to give up his career in the corporate world and return to the United States. He felt called to jump in the fights being undertaken by activists and organizers across the USA: the fight for a living wage, the fight for equal rights for LGBTQ+ people, the fight for universal healthcare, the fight for a just transition away from fossil fuels.
When he returned to California, Derek partnered with Southern California community leaders and activists and laid the foundation for the organization that would become Ground Game LA. Ground Game LA grew into a powerful force fighting for housing justice, but also flexed its electoral muscles as part of the coalition of organizers that flipped Katie Hill’s district from red to blue in 2018. During this time, Marshall also partnered with local community groups to organize arts and culture events that raised money and awareness for LGBTQ+ issues.
Derek’s activism soon drove him to pursue electoral organizing; working for the California Democratic campaigns of Jessica Salans (City Council) and Pat Harris (US Senate). In order to dedicate himself to the work he loved, Derek drove Uber for years to help pay the bills.
Most recently, Derek was a staffer in Nevada for Senator Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign in 2020. The deep relational organizing that he led across the Las Vegas Valley was instrumental in delivering the Senator’s largest victory of the primary. After the 2020 presidential campaign, he returned home to the heart of California’s 23rd congressional district and continued his efforts in community organizing and outreach. In January of 2021, Marshall took his lifelong dedication to advocacy to the next level and announced his bid for Congress with a campaign focused on progressive issues such as Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and a local jobs guarantee.
When elected, Derek looks forward to bringing his diverse experiences, organizing skills, and passion to the Halls of Congress to fight with everything he’s got on behalf of, and alongside, the working people of California’s High Desert and the Inland Empire.
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