Published in Macalester Today
Back in march, Andrew Ojeda ’13 (Fresno, Calif.) called his mother with an unusual request for a college student: It was caucus day in Minnesota, he wanted to run for office, and he was wondering if she would support his decision. “Hopefully other candidates called their moms first, too,” he says, tongue-in-cheek.
With her support, Ojeda, a German studies and political science major, moved through the first steps in his campaign to become a state representative for St. Paul’s District 64A. He’s running as a Republican, with a GOP endorsement, in the heavily DFL district. Ojeda emphasizes that his platform focuses on breaking down walls between parties to find compromise, which he identified as a priority this spring while working as a legislative intern
at the Capitol.
“The R behind my name doesn’t say how I’m going to act,” says Ojeda, who meets Minnesota’s residency requirement by living off campus. “We elect representatives, we don’t elect parties, and that’s something people need to realize. I’m going to do what’s best for my district. It’s time to restore the economic principles behind our decision-making.”
“I really value the different opinions at Mac—to be able to say ‘I love you as a friend, but this is what I believe.’”
He credits Macalester with encouraging both his passion for politics and his ability to consider other opinions; being part of a progressive campus culture has prepared him well, Ojeda says. “I’ve always been someone who understands the other side,” he adds. “I really value the different opinions at Mac—to be able to say ‘I love you as a friend, but this is what I believe.’”
If Ojeda wins in November, he plans to continue his senior year coursework. He notes that most representatives have outside jobs, including some who work as teachers and professors with schedules similar to those of college students.
So far, says Ojeda, his belief in breaking down party lines is resonating with other St. Paul college students, perhaps because of their community structure. “Dwelling in such close quarters, you understand that you’ll have differences of opinion, but you still have to live together,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of students come up to me and say, ‘You’re the first Republican I’ve voted for,’ and I say, ‘Don’t think of me as a Republican, think of me as someone advocating for something different.’”