Alanna Offield is a student activist coordinator for Amnesty International New Mexico, and the newly elected president of Young Democrats of Santa Fe County, which connects people ages 12-35 with the Democratic Party. Offield is a vice presidential candidate—and the only Santa Fe candidate—for Young Democrats of New Mexico, for which elections will be held 6 pm Friday, April 29 at the Albuquerque Convention Center. For more information, email Alanna.
SFR: Young Democrats of Santa Fe County has been dormant for quite some time, hasn’t it?
AO: From what I’ve heard, the last time it was really strong [was when] Congressman [Ben Ray] Luján [was its president]…During the election, and last August, we tried to get it going again and sort of feed off of some of that momentum that we had with a lot of young people wanting to get involved. And so we had a few meetings in August, trying to organize people, young people here in Santa Fe, to get involved and come do calling and stuff like that, and so that was pretty successful. But then, after the election ended and it didn’t really work out in their favor, I think a lot of people were kind of disheartened in a way, and so they stopped showing up.
Paint me a picture of what the organization does.
The mission statement is to get young people actively involved in political issues, specifically the Democratic Party…and getting them involved in the party process and encouraging lifelong involvement in the party. Our broader mission, I guess, is to work on the Democratic platform and work on those issues, and we’ve had a lot of young people that come to our meetings and they’re really concerned about LGBTQ issues and they want to work a lot on that, or immigration and immigration reform and health care, so those things kind of tie in as well.
What about you, personally?
My broader mission is to make sure that we encourage—even if we encounter people that aren’t interested in being a part of Young Democrats—thinking about politics and the electoral process and how important it is to vote, and knowing that it is important even though you just might feel like one drop of water in this huge ocean of people voting, that it’s important to do.
What’s your plan to help young people become invested?
I think that educating yourself on the issues and the problems is really important, and knowing both sides. A lot of youth, whenever they’re asked questions about issues, if they don’t know that much, they get really nervous and then they’re like, ‘No, I don’t want to talk about it.’ I want to help them to feel empowered to talk about these issues to their friends and their classmates and people that they meet just hanging out, so that they explain it to people in a way that they can understand.
Do you find that people’s interests sometimes interfere with partisan ideals?
As young people, we tend to think of the big, beautiful humanitarian issues a lot—you know like, how do we save the world? Then you come down to these more practical things like, should we have [voter] ID or not—they tend to not be as engaged with that. So a lot of what we try to do is education around these issues…Right now, we’re so new, our platform is the party platform, and we can’t really stray from the party platform and what the party says, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t develop our own action and ideas around these things and how we approach the subject as young people.
What issues did you see when you interned with the Diane Denish gubernatorial campaign?
I felt like New Mexico as a whole has a lot of really different voices…I felt like the Denish campaign, as much as I learned from it…I feel like they didn’t take that into account…They went everywhere, but I’m not sure how engaged they were everywhere. What I want to make sure doesn’t happen with Young Democrats on our state level, and what I’m trying to do with my election because I’m running for vice president is, if there’s that one kid in Hobbs that’s like, ‘I want to be a part of Young Democrats,’ well, I’m going to do everything I can to get down there and talk to him and give him the support and resources that he needs to start a group there.
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