Tell us why you chose to take a political stance by running for New Mexico House District 22?
Our fellow New Mexicans experience inadequacies related to education, economic opportunity, and access to essential resources. New Mexico’s rural and impoverished communities are facing life decisions and circumstances that quality representation can work toward advocating for and solving. I was born and raised in the exact borders of New Mexico House District 22 and have had the opportunity to learn from our shared experiences. I have also experienced the inequities and disparities facing our rural communities. I attended both Estancia Municipal Schools and East Mountain High School and witnessed the barriers facing our students’ education. I graduated from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts (focused on Political Science and Chicano/a studies). I take this political stance knowing that our fellow New Mexicans deserve a Representative who elevates the voices of the underserved and underrepresented.
What has been the most difficult part with taking on this goal?
As a candidate for any political office, some barriers come with being young. I want to, first and foremost, clarify that in being 22 years old and running for the New Mexico House of Representatives, I contain the knowledge and skills necessary to represent our communities effectively. Nevertheless, the barrier I face is showing my community that my professional, voluntary, and educational skills meet the threshold to bring quality and equitable representation to our communities. I have worked for the New Mexico House of Representatives (2021 Session & 2022 Session), Claunch-Pinto Soil & Water Conservation District, Rio Grande Chapter CASA, and UNM’s Land Grant studies program. I have the skills necessary to equitably and effectively represent our friends and neighbors.
What was Augustine like as a child?
I kept a strict schedule and focused on my education and sports. I spent my early childhood in Estancia, New Mexico, where I attended a four-year-old program (alternative for Pre-K) taught by members of our community. Outside of school, my parents involved me in our family-owned business, where I learned what quality customer service looks like and how to create a sustainable business model.
As a preteen, I gain as much knowledge as possible in three main areas: ornithology, biology, and environmental science. My parents and extended family aided in my efforts to find resources to expand my knowledge in these areas. I remember a fond memory of my uncle bringing me a set of textbooks, one in biology, another in zoology, and the last in English. I present this memory as these books brought me to the understanding that anyone can make a change and understand our communities and world in another light. My uncle’s impact on this one action and my parents’ input led me to believe that it was possible for me, the product of generational wood haulers and the working class, to receive a college education.
Have you thought about what your choice to run means for LGBTQ youth?
Yes, I have. As a member of this community, I have taken this question into deep consideration. This race tells our LGBTQIA+ youth we can accomplish anything we want to achieve. We face an opponent who aims to discount and hinder the representation of our community. We must win. It means that we have a cause to stand behind. As a young, rural, LGBTQIA+ candidate, I share many of the same social lenses as our communities and youth. If I could sum this campaign up into one word, it would be uplifting. We need to uplift voices that often opted out of our representation.
To all of our LGBTQIA+ youth, I hear you and stand with you. Know that you will have a representative who cares to acknowledge the struggles we face by merely being ourselves. Know that I am here to change the systems that works to prevent us from having our voices and concerns heard.
What message do you have for those that feel politics in New Mexico is a lost cause?
Being from a rural region of our beautiful state, I know what it feels like to cast a vote for a quality candidate only to have your voice and votes squandered in a process. It makes you feel unheard and underrepresented. I come from a community that is in dire need of representation that acknowledges the disparities that we face as a community. Though I may not change your mind today, I aim to show that representation matters. I cannot do this alone. We need your help and the help of our fellow New Mexicans. I am not running for office to push or promote anything more than issues we face together.
Politics in New Mexico may appear to be a lost cause, but we can fix it by taking an approach that unifies our divided communities. I stand firm in my morals. Nonetheless, I will not turn you away solely relating to your political affiliation because I am here to do a job - for the people. We must ask our elected officials to do the same. I want to do my utmost to represent our interests. So, please have the confidence in me to bring unity to our community, the community we know as New Mexico.
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