Robby Rodriguez, SWOP

Robby Rodriguez is the director of the SouthWest Organizing Project, a twenty-five-year-old community group in Albuquerque. In 1984, SWOP conducted its first voter registration drive and registered nearly 20,000 New Mexicans, primarily among the Chicano, lower income, working class and Indigineous communities of Albuquerque South Valley.

"That was a strategy to build power on a couple of levels," Robby recalls, "One, because we knew that it was important, that this was one way for that voice of those folks to be heard." Elected officials sat up and took notice. "On a different level," Robby adds, "I think it built power for the organization, that we were a force to be reckoned, that we had the capacity to do a voter registration project in the tens of thousands."

Although SWOP continued their organizing and public policy work, they did not do another voter engagement project until 2004. What has drawn SWOP to electoral work? In the video, Robby explains that SWOP's members and leadership realized that civic engagement is a crucial part of organzing work in places like Pajarito Mesa, an area of Albuquerque that didn't have potable water as late as 1998, because it demonstrates the electoral power of underserved communities.

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Robby Rodriguez describes the philosophy behind SWOP's voter engagement program.

Robby Rodriguez: electoral work gives organizations the opportunity to "really change things"