The Albuquerque mayoral race has moved to a run-off election between Timothy “Tim” Keller and Daniel “Dan” Lewis. News reporter Gabriella Rivera spoke with and compiled responses by former mayoral candidate and recent University of New Mexico graduate Augustus “Gus” Pedrotty to hear his perspective on the election and the future of the city.
Q: What impact do you hope to have had on Albuquerque through your campaign?
A: The biggest thing I hope to have shown Albuquerque and our elected officials is how uniquely equipped this city is. We are at the forefront of so many industries and so many technological advances, and Albuquerque has the resources that put us in our own category among cities in the United States.
Besides that, I hope more people come forth with their ideas and become engaged. I hope our generation takes ownership of the effect we can have on politics, and that more people across the map take part. I hope to see more people run for office from more corners of the population — all of us have to be coming forward and running with new and better ideas instead of electing identities.
Q: What is your message to the future mayor of Albuquerque, whether it be Keller or Lewis?
A: They’re very different candidates, but if I had to pick one overarching theme to try to express for them it would be to focus on the tangible initiatives that translate to empowering a community’s future.
What their policies have to do is spraying the bottom line across our city. What their tenure has to do is raise an electorate’s ability to access information and achieve faster results from being an engaged electorate.
We have to engage with technology in this changing world and what our city already has going for it. We have the new world-changing technologies here. We have the 21st century, which government has seemed to ignore in terms of how it engages its public. If you don’t embrace those tools, then that’s embracing the present, and therefore you can never expect to bring a city to its future. They both have their strengths and weaknesses in how they plan to bring about that “bright tomorrow,” which, of course, we all campaigned for. I just hope they don’t miss how much they can do with Albuquerque today.
Q: What is your message to the millennial generation about political activism?
A: Run for something. Run for anything.
Hold people accountable, they don’t know more than you do. They aren’t any more or less capable than you are.
Ask hard questions. Do anything you can to get people to break out of the script in productive ways.
That takes responsibility on you, as the electorate, to understand the responsibilities of those in office and to understand how the variables of government play on each other. Even when you are dead-set on a candidate, it doesn’t mean our role as an electorate is done. We still have to ask the hard questions.
No one is going to agree on 100 percent of the issues. Campaigns are at a point in time where (politicians) are held more accountable than any other point in their office tenure. This is the time to hold people’s feet to the fire. This is the time to ask questions, because they have to be responsive now. More power for more information.
Make people work hard for your vote or for your support. Never think that they have all the answers or that they have information that you don’t...You should be able to work with the same chess pieces. You can also construct new ideas and suggest solutions for the issues we face today.
Q: What comes next? Are politics in your future?
A: Politics, in the traditional sense, is something I hope our generation continues to push back on.
I don’t believe in just running for things. My future is a big question mark, and I don’t have a good answer for that. I get to experience the joys of both post-undergrad and post-election question marks at the same time.
But in the meantime, that doesn’t mean any of my commitments to the city change. It doesn’t mean my commitments to the ideas I put forward change.
Right after we knew we weren’t in the run-off, we were back out there registering people to vote. We’re already looking into how to draft ordinances to get our ideas through to the mayor’s office. It’s about saying we’re all a part of this engaged electorate work and that politics is everywhere; it’s not just a position, it’s not just a government job, it’s about how we choose solutions to the issues we face.
Q: Is there anything you would have changed about how your campaign was run?
A: Is there anything we would have done differently? Of course.
I think if anyone wanted to teach honestly about politics, they would teach about campaigns. We don’t know about campaigns. However, all the research I did in the world, I was always going to be blindsided by the reality of a campaign.
So yes, there are things I would do differently. But I wouldn’t trade the team of young professionals, pretty much all from UNM — all coming from different backgrounds and interests and experiences and arguments — I wouldn’t trade that for the world. That was the exceptional thing about this candidacy, was how people chose to step forward and work for something they believed in in a new way.
And that showed up on election night. We beat all the polls. We didn’t make it to the run-off, but we also beat, by tremendous margins, the normal dollar-per-vote rate across the United States.
You know, people say that change happens in slow increments, that you have to work within the structures in place, but sometimes you just have to go for it too. Sometimes you just have to show up and live out loud and take a chance.
So would we do things differently, yes. But could we have had a better first experience or a better support system? No.
Q: What is your biggest takeaway from the campaign?
A: Politics is still a self-perpetuating power structure, and the only way to really start pushing that dial and start changing it is to get in there.
There are a lot of lessons across the map. Campaigns could very well be the problem with politics in America, but that’s the system we have and so we need more people running. If more people run, we’re gonna get things like automatic voter registration when you’re 18, faster.
When more people run, we’ll see changes that represent all of us faster, and that’s a big deal. Whether or not it ends up in the office, we can’t stop pushing, we can’t be complacent — and that’s the bottom line of community empowerment.
Gabriella Rivera is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gabbychlamps.