Editor’s Note: The original online version of this article stated Pedrotty endorsed Keller, but that is false and has since been corrected. In the original article, Jackie Luchini’s surname was misspelled, and she was misquoted in her statement — that has also been corrected. The Daily Lobo apologizes for any confusion.
The University of New Mexico College Democrats met Wednesday night at the Student Union Building for a Q&A with current mayoral candidate Tim Keller and former mayoral candidates Brian Colón and Gus Pedrotty.
The event began with brief speeches from Keller, Colón and Pedrotty on public health, crime and other issues. Members of the student organization continued the conversation by asking the guest speakers about other issues across the city and state.
Ona-Rain Morgan, a member of College Democrats, said she enjoyed seeing the candidates’ mutual support for one another, all in the hopes of improving Albuquerque.
“Democrats really have a good understanding of what the people of New Mexico want,” she said. “A lot of the ideology and core values that I think a lot of citizens of New Mexico have are represented well in the Democratic Party.”
Keller suggested young politicians “start early, and you can pick your own path. You can do it through issue groups, you can do it through the Party, you can do it through campaigns and you can also do it on the policy end, like working up in the Round House or volunteering in City Hall...Most of the elected officials have internship programs, like in the state auditor’s office. We love UNM interns, and we would love more.”
Keller said he hopes to create strategic incentives around college students coming out of universities and entering the workforce. He also advocated for helping high school students get a head start.
“I really believe we have a much broader view of extracurricular activities in our high schools that are career-based, so by the time you get to UNM, you might already have your associate’s degree from a dual-degree program,” he said. “You might also be getting bilingual education after school and over the summer, focusing on a high school apprenticeship and job skill training program.”
Morgan said she has confidence in Keller’s ability to get things done for the people of Albuquerque.
“I think Tim Keller is honestly really in touch with the younger generation, with the larger population of Albuquerque that is oftentimes overlooked,” she said. “I also liked what he had to say about keeping our generation here, because I know, as an out-of-state student, I’m looking to grad school out of state just because I don’t find a lot of opportunities here, and I think he’s going to be the one to really fix that.”
In a press release, Jackie Luchini, President of UNM College Democrats said, “We’re taking this new energy from UNM College Democrats to engage the students and encourage participation on campus, in the community and at the polls.”
Ludella Awad is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LudellaAwad.