Gallardo hopes to inspire a democratic resurgence
ReviewPopular Democratic Party Candidate for Puerto Rico House of Representatives District 5
Today Pasquines unveils Candidate Reviews, a series of posts where we interview candidates for elected office, and review them based on their answers, record and experience. We aim to help voters identify the best candidates looking towards the primaries and elections.
On April 7th Pasquines was able to catch Luis Gallardo, a PDP candidate for Representative District 5, in between campaigning in order to discuss his candidacy and more.
Luis Gallardo is currently a municipal legislator for Aguas Buenas where, for more than five years since he joined the legislature, he’s been pushing many of the policies he now advocates at the district and pan-island level.
At the very basis of his many policy proposals lies an intense desire to promote citizen participation, to empower them to take hold of their future and engage in the political process. Gallardo attributes many of the political and economic crises faced by Puerto Rico to a lack of voter participation and a general apathy that has entrenched the island in its current situation. After identifying this key issue, Gallardo went on to expand on his ideas to further engage citizens to participate in the democratic process. He wants to allow citizens to propose and submit their own projects without prior legislative permission as a way for citizens to advocate for what they’re passionate about. Gallardo praises the success of the program everywhere it is in place, including his own city of Aguas Buenas, and proposes moving it to the island level. He wants to further increase voter participation by holding town halls on issues such as the budget in order for citizens to have their voices heard. Gallardo’s most controversial proposal, according to himself, would be to stage an island-wide referendum (much like Greece did in 2015) for citizens to decide what direction they would like to see the island go.
On the economic side, Gallardo is looking to intensify existing government efforts to revitalize the island’s struggling businesses. Big businesses and the wealthy get too big of a break, according to Gallardo. He cites the recent approval of a 17 million dollar subsidy for a shopping mall as just one example of misguided priorities. He combines his criticism of the prioritization of big business with a fresh call for a rechanneling of resources towards small and medium-sized businesses on the island to stimulate the economic recovery. It certainly would help his district, which has large rural sectors where small business reigns supreme.
Gallardo is running what he deems to be a different kind of campaign from what he sees as politics as usual. Most of that comes from his own roots; as a person who didn’t come from a wealthy political family, Gallardo began his political life through grassroots activism and community organizing–something that he still calls his “calling” to this day.
The Gallardo campaign is built on people power and the desire to connect voters to the democratic process. The way that Gallardo himself campaigns is indicative of his campaign platforms. The week before his interview took place, Gallardo’s campaign took over an abandoned gas station and used it as a platform from which to campaign. The candidate himself described the process as a form of public expression designed to provoke folks to come out of their homes and engage in the process. He encourages folks to ask questions and, if they can’t trust the system, to be the system themselves.
Gallardo reveals the clean nature of his campaign when he reveals just how much money he takes from corporate interests: exactly zero. He went on to explain that, by the nature of his district-level race, he doesn’t need much money to begin with. The overwhelming majority of the money he does receive comes from grassroots donors who are courted by his team of volunteers, with most donations being under $50. Gallardo notes that some additional funding is provided out of his own pocket.
Though he generally stays away from interest groups, Gallardo does believe in building strong electoral alliances with groups that share his goals and policy interests. If there is a community organization that he feels shares his agenda, he will sit down with them and try to reach an agreement on policy stances. One of the larger community organizations that backs Gallardo’s candidacy is a group called Vamos, a coalition that amalgamates environmental and labor issues. At the time of the interview, the Gallardo campaign was still formalizing an endorsement.
Gallardo closed with an invitation for potential voters to take a look at his record and scrutinize it. With an air of confidence, he proudly declared that he has “no skeletons in [his] closet.” He asserted that his record has been consistently in favor of his constituents. He contrasted his record with that of his opponent, a 12-year incumbent with an inconsistent voting record. Gallardo hopes that voters see the difference by the time they head to the polls.
Candidate for Puerto Rico House of Representatives District 5
June 26, 1982
Popular Democratic Party
Municipal Legislator of Aguas Buenas
First time elected
Years of career experience
Representative, Puerto Rico House of Representatives District 5