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A Breath of Political Fresh Air


Whenever a local citizen gets hooked on politics, it always raises questions. What possessed you to do this? What do you hope to accomplish? Did you have a recent head injury?

We're instinctively taught to distrust politicians, but in this day and age it's time we push back against that belief. Politicians can be people like you and me, fighting for what is right and good. That is exactly the case with Teresa Gallegos. Teresa was raised a Virginian but has made her home in Arkansas. During her time here she has made sure to get as involved as she can be, and the world is a little better for it.

She was an elected delegate for Bernie Sanders, has been a poll worker for the Pope County Election Commission, and many other countless volunteer efforts in the area. She certainly means business. Currently, she's a contender for the Arkansas Congressional District Three seat on the Democratic Party of Arkansas Executive Committee, so we thought people should get to know her a little more.

Offbeat: What made you decide to throw your hat in the ring, so to speak?

Teresa: It was about this time last year that I started seeing videos of Bernie Sanders speaking at rallies on my Facebook feed. Immediately, sparks started going off in my brain. Wow! Here is a politician who is a true advocate for me and my family. I was inspired to donate $25 to a political campaign for the first time in my life. I discovered a local volunteer meeting in Russellville. I started phone banking and canvassing for the first time ever. The more I learned about what was really happening in our country on a widespread level, I could not stop working to change it. I have spent countless hours making thousands of phone calls. I never learned about this in high school or college. I never heard about this on the news. I learned that I am not alone, and here we have Bernie Sanders, an inspiring advocate for the average American people! My friends encouraged me to run for an elected delegate position to represent Arkansas Congressional District Three voters at the DNC Convention in Philadelphia. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself in to. I didn’t know I was expected to give a speech until after I submitted my form. I am terrified of public speaking, and I do not like to be the center of attention. But if putting on a dress and a blazer, driving to Conway, and speaking in front of a room full of people for 90 seconds would help Bernie’s campaign and the millions of Americans he represents, then I figured it was the least I could do. I was elected! I traveled to Philadelphia with the Democratic Party of Arkansas. I had an incredible experience connecting with delegates from Arkansas and from all over the country whom I had been meeting and organizing with on Slack for the greater part of the past year. However, I also encountered a few situations where I saw some room for improvement. I am dedicated to creating positive change within the Democratic Party in order to ensure a fair process and to promote an organization where all people, thoughts, and experience levels are represented.

Offbeat: What exactly does the Executive Committee do? And do you already have ideas of where you want your focus to be if you are to win?

Teresa: The Rules of the Democratic Party of Arkansas define the Executive Committee as responsible for all aspects of strategic planning for carrying out the successful work of the party including candidate recruitment strategies, fundraising strategies, and strategies related to organizational structure. This is a new definition and purpose for the Executive Committee, so our goals and the outcome is somewhat organic and depends on what the committee members create together as a team. My job would be to communicate the thoughts and opinions from everyone I would represent in Congressional District Three. Anyone is welcome to contact me at any time (teresangallegos@gmail.com).

We need to identify and support candidates who are true advocates for average Arkansans, not for sale to lobbyists and out-of-state funds, foundations and PACS.

The candidates we recruit should be supported and held accountable by the real people who they will represent every day. Let’s work towards implementing the idea that if we all pitch in what time, energy and money we have to spare (no matter how much or how little), then we all can truly make a difference together. This past year, one single campaign in the Democratic Party raised a sum of $232 million donated through 8 million individual contributions from 2.5 million people. The average donation was $27. There is no excuse now to say that it cannot be done.

Offbeat: Does hearing "District Three" make you think of The Hunger Games every time you hear it?

Teresa: Totally. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Offbeat: Who are some of your political inspirations and why?

Teresa: Nina Turner! Former State Senator from Ohio. I have seen her speak in-person twice – she is so inspiring! She tells it like it is. Like this quote from her,“Whether you’re on the left or the right, most Americans want to know that they’re electing people who actually give a shit about them. Not just about their next election, but that they really are going to get in there and push policies, and in some cases make sacrifices, even if it means losing their next election to get something done for the people. The Republican convention was in my hometown of Cleveland, and I got a chance to talk to some of the Trump supporters. And guess what? They pretty much want the same things that I hear people in Lee-Harvard, in my community, want. They want a good job so that they can make a good living. They want to take a vacation every now and then, to buy a car now and then. If they have children, they want to know that their children will have a better future than they had. That’s not Republican or Democratic or Green Party or Libertarian or Black or White or Hispanic or Native American or Asian. That is American!

All Americans want that. People want to live a good life.”

Also, of course, Bernie Sanders. One of my favorite quotes from him is, "In a thousand different ways we are thought to think small. We are taught to believe we cannot change the status quo. That does not have to be."

Offbeat: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years, politically speaking?

Teresa: In 5 years, I hope that I have put enough time and effort into successfully electing several Democrats to the White House, House, Senate, State House and State Senate! In 10 years, I hope to have learned more about the process and to have grown as a person in order to represent my fellow human beings as a representative in the Democratic National Committee. I want to be clear: this is not about me, a title, or a position to list on my resume. This is about standing up to fight for my fellow humans who need help. What else would I being doing with my time? Watching Netflix?

Offbeat: What is one issue you think needs the most attention in our country right now?

Teresa: I think the root cause of many problems in our country is the current campaign finance system. Our country has turned in to an oligarchy where millionaires and billionaires are buying elections and essentially employing our representatives in Congress. We need to get the power back to the American people where our representatives work for our best interests. If we can achieve this, then we will have a better chance at improving healthcare, education, the criminal justice system, jobs, wages, working conditions, and our environment. I want to just say, “Go read Bernie’s new book, Our Revolution! Purchase it at Dog Ear Books if you live in Russellville or if you are just passing through!”

Teresa sure sounds like a candidate I could get behind. Spread the word so others hear about her, and help people see that there is good in the world of politics. And if more people get involved we can turn the stigma on its head.

(Side note: I would like to thank Teresa for giving Dog Ear Books a shout out on Bernie's book, so I've decided to give anyone who comes in a 10% discount on that very book if they mention her name at check out.)

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