A Transplant’s Fresh Take

By Jake Stern Powell

My wife and I only moved to Albuquerque this past July, but our entrance into the world of Bernalillo County Democratic politics over the past few months has been a breath of fresh air. People here seem to actually want to get things done and not just espouse applause-lines for the sake of feeling good.

I previously worked at a Seattle-based startup whose CEO proudly exclaimed his support of Democratic candidates and his vision for truly changing the world through the work of our company. Yet, when a new tax was imposed on big businesses to help combat the city’s affordable housing crisis that’s, in part, driven by the hiring practices of companies like the one I worked for, our CEO also proudly exclaimed that increasing taxes on large employers was like “telling a classroom that the students who do the most homework will be singled out for detention.”

So I was very excited to tell my wife after a recent Bernalillo County Democratic Party Zoom meeting that “A guy says he has an electric vehicle and is mad that he’s not contributing to the gas tax! He wants to pay more taxes to help more people!” 

I understand that as I wade deeper into the waters of local politics I’ll be exposed to the hypocrisies that lay lurking under any calm surface. It takes almost no effort for the glossy hope of any new hometown to dull into the easy cynicism of “This place will never be better.” And, of course, there are clear areas of improvement within the local party, such as bringing in those with fresh perspectives, especially young people, and refocusing our outreach through the necessary evil of social media.

Yet, in my brief time getting to know the people of the Democratic Party here, I remain hopeful. We’re people that want to help. We want to change the world, and we’re not entirely shocked that a new tax on the wealthy may be a needed component. My wife and I look forward to getting to know member of the party better and contributing whatever we can to help those who need it.