An interview with Amanda Otero: Organizing + Elections

Hey, I’m Mary Kate Hall, Organizing Intern. I came to TakeAction this summer, expecting to gain some insight into the electoral process and eager to join in the fight to realize their bold vision for our state. I’ve been an intern for five weeks, and TakeAction has already my expectations. In a short-time, I’ve learned that nothing that much of what this organization does isn’t conventional or expected. TakeAction’s vision for the elections is no exception: We know that if we want the power to govern, we need to do more than just win these elections. We need to build powerful relationships with these candidates and continue to build a powerful base of leaders to ensure that our work with them extends far beyond November.

I sat down with my supervisor Amanda Otero (Deputy Organizing Director) to talk more about what that work looks like for our organizing team and volunteers, and how it’s different than what we’ve done in the past.

Q: How is our organizing work different during the elections?

A: All of our work is about bringing people in, developing leaders through campaigns, and making concrete changes in the lives of Minnesotans. The election work is different because this kind of campaigning might not feel like it’s making a concrete change right now, but we have a vision of electing our own people who will help us make changes in the future. So it’s not just a transactional experience of doing work to get them elected, but rather a process of building a relationship to co-govern with them.

Q: What is co-governing power?

A: Co-governing power is what we want for our leaders, our members, and all Minnesotans: to feel like they have the power and agency to decide on the things that affect their lives. For us, one path to that power is having relationships with the elected officials who are at the decision-making table. We want each of our members to feel like they have a powerful relationship with and can move an elected official because they’ve worked closely with them throughout these campaigns.

Q: How are we building these powerful relationships?

A: This year we have our leaders taking on roles that include a lot of Direct Voter Contact, but also include taking more ownership of the campaigns and the work with our endorsed candidates. Our leaders are either anchors, trekkers, or maestros. Through those roles, they are building relationships with candidates, getting embedded in campaign teams, and talking to voters across Minnesota. Through this work they are partnering with our organizing staff in the work of bringing other people along.

Q: What are you most excited about with our election organizing?

A: I’m most excited to see our organizing staff, interns, and leaders coming together as a team with a shared vision. We are figuring out what our individual roles are, and seeing how those roles add up to our whole. It makes it a more powerful experience for each of us to say ‘you’ve got that piece of this work, I’ve got this piece, and together, we are greater than the sum of our parts.’

I know that I speak for our entire organizing staff and the other interns when I say the dynamic candidates that we’ve endorsed help keep us grounded in this work. We know that there’s a lot at stake, and these electoral victories are critical to our fight for a statehouse that looks more like our communities, with more women and people of color. We hope you’ll join us in this important work—sign up for a shift today so we can build power for the future!

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