In addition to the re-election of an atheist state legislator, there was another non-religious winner in last night’s elections: Danny Choriki, who won a seat on the Billings City Council in Montana with 55% of the votes.
Choriki is also president of the Billings Association of Humanists.
He didn’t talk about that on the campaign trail. Not because he was trying to hide it, but because local elections are rarely about the kinds of issues that make a candidate’s religious views relevant. Still, his open Humanism didn’t hurt him.
I asked Choriki how he avoided backlash and what advice he would give to atheists who want to run for office. He told me that it helped to make sure voters understood he was focused on advancing their interests, not in using his new platform to push his personal agenda.
He said he belongs to a local Unitarian church that welcomes non-religious people who shares their values. They knew him as an organizer, speaker, and local leader. His late parents were also active with progressives who belonged to a local Catholic church.
His advice? “Be an active, contributing member of the local community.”
While he admitted he would be “all over” any kind of anti-atheist sentiment, that’s not what the city of Billings will have to deal with.
By being an elected non-theist who works for the betterment of the city, he is arguably advancing Humanist values without having to participate in any kind of formal religious debate. There’s power in that position.
You can follow his work right here.