Meet Derek Marshall, The Leading Democratic Challenger in California’s New 23rd Congressional District Whose Progressive Platform Supports Working People
Derek Marshall is one of those rare people who takes hold of life and wrings the most out of it each and every day. What’s more, he helps everyone around him do the same. Now he’s campaigning hard to win the U.S. House of Representatives seat in California’s new 23rd Congressional District. His platform promotes a political system that meets its citizens’ basic needs and enables them to find that all-too-elusive work-life balance.
Congressional candidate Derek Marshall Stands for Opportunity
“I’m running for California’s 23rd Congressional District because I want to bring the folks of the high desert and the mountains together to demand and achieve a more livable life,” Marshall says on his campaign website. “When we transcend our differences to collectively fight for the things that directly affect our quality of life, we all win.”
Marshall believes if people are afforded the means to meet their basic needs, they can get in touch with the things that make life worth living. His platform centers on providing Medicare for all, creating jobs with fair wages, improving the area’s infrastructure, combating climate change, and ending student and medical debt.
“Victorville is a small- to medium-sized city, but we don’t have a four-year college, sufficient employment, or even usable daily Amtrak service to downtown L.A.,” he pointed out. “To meet even our most basic needs, we need local jobs, better facilities, and a robust public transportation network. Our current representative is not supporting these needs, and that has to change.”
Derek Marshall’s Progressive Roots
Marshall became politically active at a young age, while helping his family serve meals in a homeless outreach program each Saturday.
“Community service opened my eyes to our government’s shortcomings,” he recalled. “Even as a boy, I felt a moral conviction that challenging the inequalities around me was the right thing to do.”
Marshall grew up in Boston and went to school in D.C. Upon graduating from American University, he traveled to Europe and founded a global initiative, Making Commitments Matter, that worked with the United Nations. Thirty-five nations joined the project, which holds governments accountable to the U.N. resolutions they sign.
While living in Germany, Marshall was struck by how effectively the government’s programs met citizens’ needs. He longed to bring similar benefits back to the U.S.
“My experience in Europe showed me what it’s like when people aren’t forced to deal with the stresses of student loans and medical debt,” he said. “I want to relieve Americans of these financial anxieties. The countries I lived and worked in offer Medicare and tuition-free college education for all. We live in the wealthiest country on Earth; we have the means to change the lives of working people and ease their economic burdens. We need elected officials willing to fight for those policies.”
Derek Marshall’s Unexpected Journey from Community Dance Parties to Congressional Race
Marshall is openly gay now, but he didn’t always feel free to be himself. Now he creates spaces for openness and freedom wherever he goes.
During his last five years in Berlin, he established a radical queer bar called the CLUB in Neukölln. The club was a co-working space by day and art bar by night.
“Everyone was welcome,” Marshall remembered. “LGBTQ and Syrian refugees partied and held political panels. It was a place where people could be themselves. These people needed a safe space after being victims of war and homophobia.”
Since returning to the U.S., Marshall delved deeper into electoral politics. He helped campaign for Democratic candidates for Los Angeles City Council and the Senate. In 2020, Marshall’s work as an organizer for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in Nevada was a success. With his grassroots organizing skills, he helped the campaign secure the Nevada caucus nomination.
The CLUB in Neukölln became Marshall’s inspiration for Ostbahnhof—underground queer rave events in L.A. As before, he found a creative outlet to mix his progressive political work with his passion for life and art.
“You could say Ostbahnhof is an intersection where political awareness and after-hour open artistic meetings happen,” Marshall remarked. “Before I launched the underground dance parties, I wrote a mission statement about the importance of freedom of expression. I envisioned a safe space for queer and trans folks to be themselves, play, and create.”
Derek Marshall, The Most Viable Challenger
Marshall’s progressive platform is striking a chord. According to data from the Federal Election Commission, he leads the Democratic field in grassroots fundraising. As the party frontrunner by more than $300,000, he has an excellent chance of being this November’s Democratic challenger against the Republican incumbent.
Whether working with the U.N., launching underground dance parties, organizing protests, or canvassing tens of thousands of voters across California, Marshall’s ultimate goal is to empower people to live more vibrant and fulfilling lives. Through progressive policy and his own compelling example, he is leading the charge for social equality and improved livelihoods in California’s 23rd.
“Our current system puts so much pressure on people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do in order to survive,” he said. “I envision a world where people are doing what they are meant to be doing and can find the time, play, and creativity they need for good mental health. If I learned one thing while living in Berlin, it is that you get higher productivity when you take sufficient time for yourself.”