With a tendency to give sweeping yet spot-on answers to queries about how and when to fix what ails this city as well as a keen eye for the underlying cultural and psychological processes that can spell success or failure for this municipality, Pedrotty displays a sort of humble confidence and resolute spirit that is rare in politicians of any age.
Gus, as he likes to be known, stopped by Alibi Headquarters to discuss a bid for mayor that began as idealistic—and some would say unlikely—but has since been transformed into one of the more vital and remarkable candidacies that have passed through this high desert city in ages.
Here’s a condensed version of the conversation Weekly Alibi had with Mr. Pedrotty. Like the other mayoral candidate interviews this newspaper has offered its readers, the entire encounter can be seen here.
Weekly Alibi: Who are you, and why do you think you should be the next mayor of the city of Albuquerque?
Gus Pedrotty: I just graduated from the University of New Mexico with degrees in chemistry and psychology. It’s an unlikely combination, but it higlighted wonderful intersections between ideas and departments; it allowed me to study music in a new way [by] looking at it through neural relations, music and the brain. This also allowed me to have interesting intersections with [issues related to] healthcare. So I started working with healthcare structures around the city ... and that changed things for me. It made me realize that nothing is too big, that it was all malleable and that all we had to do was participate, engage and provide new ideas. It’s with this real experience, coming from just these [past few] years, knowing exactly what we have our hands on—and how to do it better—that makes me sure that I’m in the right place running for mayor. I’m excited to have the opportunity to take the office in October ... the bottom line is better outcomes for our citizens, that everyone has equal opportunity access and fulfullment.
One of the things you talked about in your introduction was healthcare. How important is healthcare for our citizens, with regards to public safety and for citizens who are marginalized?
To put it in simple terms, healthcare is everything. We tout our civilization as having a longer life expectancy; we have security in our bodies. But anyone watching this or reading this knows what a personal healthcare crisis does to your productivity, to your mental state, you know how crippling it can be ... it’s hard to engage in our society if you’re unhealthy. Going back to the Hyde shootings, when Ray Schultz was chief of police, it clearly showed that we [city government] didn’t have the capacity to deal with mental health in the community, and it resulted in a [police] culture of violence that resulted in the Boyd shooting and all the ones in between, that brought the DOJ here. Of course healthcare is related to public safety. We’ve chosen to engage this as a problem we can fix. When it comes to public safety, we don’t give people resources to be better.
As mayor, what sort of legislation would you bring to the City Council toward those ends?
One of the biggest ways we can start to encourage mental health outcomes and how they affect our city is to begin cooperating with programs that already exist, pairing Albuquerque Heading Home with the already existing healthcare structure. Homelessness is not just not having a home. It’s everything that comes with it. I’m interested in holistic and contextualized solutions.
So the people need jobs too, a way to make their lives meaningful and productive?
As mayor, what would I do to encourage that? Well, we get the homeless in homes, then we [city government] pair with programs that work with their health issues, and we can do that with programs like Project Echo and their infrastructure.
Besides better healthcare, what else will lead to an economic resurgance in Albuquerque?
It comes down to education. We actually have jobs we can’t fill. We need to provide site-specific education to people so we can fill those jobs. But education can be a huge privilege. We have to create a job market that provides productive infrastructure immediately. There are ways we can go about that. For able-bodied workers, there’s solar installation. By engaging in that, we will be bolstering an industry that already exists here. We can help [solar] companies succeed here by converting city structures to solar energy. We need to be business smart here. The technology isn’t a future technology anymore. It’s here. The future is now. If we want to succeed as a city, we need to embrace that fact.