I was invited to attend an April 3, 2018 “focus group” meeting with no real explanation what it was about, other than it was a program called “QWorks”.
The invite came from Gus Pedrotty, the 23-year-old who ran for Mayor of Albuquerque last year.
DIGRESSING A BIT FOR CLARITY
Sixteen people originally announced for Mayor, but only 8 qualified with enough signatures to get on the ballot, and Gus was one of them.
Gus Pedrotty is a native of Albuquerque, graduated from Albuquerque High Scool, and a graduate of the University of New Mexico with two bachelor’s degrees, one degree in chemistry and one in psychology.
From my observation, Gus was the biggest winner in the 2017 Mayor’s.
Even though he garnered 8% of the vote, the experience he gained and the respect he earned, far exceeded the seasoned politicos he ran against.
It is not often that I do a double take when I see someone give a speech or read a profile of a candidate for office.
It’s the cynic in me that has developed after forty (40) years of practicing law mostly as a trial attorney, prosecutor and including being a Judge.
I attended a number of debate forums and each time Mr. Pedrotty held his own, was poised, articulate and knowledgeable of city government and how it works and more importantly, he had viable solutions.
It was a pleasure to watch the emergence and development of a candidate that had a very fresh prospective of what we need to do to turn Albuquerque around.
Gus was not the product of political handlers, political consultants and he did not parrot slogans and talking points for applause, but a candidate who genuinely cared about the city.
During Gus’s campaign for Mayor, his lack of funding required his supporter’s to produce a series of political commercials that ran on FACEBOOK that enabled him to run a social media campaign.
The extended political commercials were slick and impressive and just as good, and some would say even better, than many ads produced by political advertising companies for thousands of dollars.
Some of Pedrotty’s FACEBOOK commercials were so good and eye catching that getting 50,000 to 60,000 views was not uncommon.
My biggest fear after the Mayor’s race was that Gus would fade away like so many do after an election is lost that is of course if you’re some old guy enjoying retirement and whose hobby is writing articles on a political blog.
I feared that like many of our young people, Gus would give up on Albuquerque and move on out of state to seek fame and fortune elsewhere.
It did not happen and Gus has stayed.
ONE PEDROTTY IDEA ADOPTED BY MAYOR TIM KELLER
One major idea that Candidate for Mayor Pedrotty proposed was a “community outreach program” to respond to indigent or homeless people or people in crisis.
The Tim Keller Administration in fact adopted the idea and is proposing in the 2018-2019 budget allocating $3.2 for the “AFD Mobile Health Care and Community Outreach Program”.
The mobile Albuquerque Fire Department (AFD) unit will have a paramedic and a person on board who can do community outreach and respond to indigent or homeless people or people in crisis.
The goal is to free up time for police officers and firefighters to respond to more pressing calls for service.
The program will shift resources from high cost reactive strategies, including a full crew responding to a 911 call from someone who does not actually need an ambulance.
The program will shift those calls to less resource-intensive approaches like home or site visits to common callers and community risk reduction efforts for private residences and public places.
The program will also include a robust and visible Basic Life Support Unit presence in the Southeast Heights and other high needs area.
This new program will allow the Albuquerque Fire Department to provide additional services as a partner to the city-wide effort to interrupt the cycle of crime and lead to a safer city.
THE QWORKS FOCUS GROUP
The April 3, 2018 focus group meeting had a nice turnout of about 15.
Former Mayor Martin Chavez and City Councilor Klaresa Pena attended.
The focus group quickly caught on that QWorks stands for “how Albuquerque works” as in how city government works or what is going on around the city and its neighborhoods.
The organizers of QWorks are all in their twenties with each having a deep commitment to making Albuquerque a better place to live, work and raise a family.
The group includes Gus Pedrotty, A. J. Hedrich, Joshua Romero, Sara Collins, Alexa Ogunsanya, Timothy Carlton McQueen, Brendon Gray and Gabe Gallegos and at least twelve other highly motivated millennials.
In a real sense, each one of these people reflect the city’s future.
The group was originally organized to elect Gus Mayor, but after the election, the group met and wanted to continue to advocate and make a contribution to Albuquerque.
Each and every one of these “millennials” bring different talents and experiences to the group, including writing skills, video production skills, marketing skills and the understanding how social media works.
According to Gus, “[QWorks] comes out of a reflection on how communities organize, what motivates engagement, and how to create more passive opportunities to inspire action, all while increasing the level of knowledge on civic engagement, how the city works across our city’s electorate”.
The immediate goal of QWorks is to start by producing 30 to 60 second social network media messages to inform the public how city government programs work and what is going on in Albuquerque socially, culturally and politically.
Pod casts are probably being contemplated by the group.
QWorks presented nine 60 second public information messages that were slick and impressive to the focus group.
Many would call them “public service” announcements, but the videos are far from that and they are entertaining and very informative.
All the attendees were asked to grade the messaging with grading sheets on each and with both positive and negative comments.
What is impressive is that QWorks took three (3) very mundane topics, produced 3 separate videos for each topic, and made the topics interesting, informative and with humor.
The topics were: Neighborhood Associations and How They Work, The RFP Process (Request for Proposals) and “Solid Waste and Recycling”.
All three topics I thought no one could ever make interesting to anyone unless they are a policy wonk.
All the work on QWorks so far has been strictly voluntary by the group members.
QWorks wants to eventually become a “nonprofit” corporation.
I have found that my generation (over 60) has a real bad habit of underestimating the talents, abilities and wisdom of millennials that QWorks represents, and we do so at our own peril and loss.
QWorks has the real potential of being a refreshing voice advocating solutions to our cities problems.
This is one group of millennials that need to be encourage and helped by all.
You can reach QWorks at their email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please stay tuned for QWorks!