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NM Leaders Teach "Candidate Development" on National Stage

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June 26, 2009

Albuquerque - It's often said that change starts on a local, community level, and that's being pointed out by community organizers from New Mexico as they travel to Las Vegas, Nev. this weekend. They plan to share the stories of locals who have successfully made the jump to elected office.

Among them is Tomas Garduno, who works for the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP). He and more than a dozen others from the state will attend the meeting of the Pushback Network of community leaders. At least three recently elected officials from Albuquerque got their feet wet working on SWOP's non-partisan 'get out the vote' effort, he says.

"Ray Garduno, the city councilor for district six here in Albuquerque, Lorenzo Garcia, recently-elected school board member, and Eleanor Chavez, state representative."

More community leaders are emerging in the political arena across the country, says Garduno, because it seems like a logical 'next step,' once they become informed about the issues.

"Once they're informed and engaged, they realize the folks who are their public officials could be doing a better job, and of course, one way to hold them accountable is to actually challenge them."

Although his organization doesn't endorse any specific candidates, Garduno says they encourage people of all political stripes to get involved in the democratic process. Members of SWOP and the Sage Council will join 170 grassroots community leaders and activists from 47 organizations in 15 states for Pushing Back, Moving Forward, the national convention of the Pushback Network, from June 26 through June 28. Attendees will analyze the connection between community development and candidate development, as well as how to make government more community-focused in the face of powerful special interests and lobbyists.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM