1. Short description of candidate / Campaign and explain why you are running for this position.
My name is Andres Portela, and I am the product of Southern Arizona. I was born in Sierra Vista and raised in both Tucson and Sierra Vista. My mother is third-generation Black Tucsonan, and my father is from Bayamon, Puerto Rico. I have been a community organizer, civil rights policymaker, Senior Policy Advisor for the City of Tucson, and a community representative. I am running for Ward 6 Council Member because as a Senior Policy Advisor, I was the disconnect between what we need as a community isn’t always what our policymakers prioritize.
2. What are some previous obstacles that you have faced that make you a strong candidate?
I have been homeless. I have been a renter. I am a homeowner. I have been hit as a bike rider, and that’s my connection to mobility. I have worked in this space that I am interviewing for. I am a member of a group that is a marginalized group within Tucson as an AfroLatino man.
3. Describe your history with Public Service.
My journey in service started when I was in diapers attending mayor and council meetings with my father and asking for more sidewalks. I would canvas for elected officials and volunteer as the president of Sierra Vista Citizens in Action throughout my life. After graduating from High school, I found myself volunteering as a teacher in the most remote regions of Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania. After returning from being a teacher, I threw my life into volunteering and being a student-athlete, which resulted in my homelessness however provided me with the opportunity to get a new lived experience. I served my community by working with community schools and in civil rights. This lead to a job for the city of Tucson, working on issues that affect our day-to-day.
4. Explain your background and how it pertains to your decision to run for office.
Tucson is my background. I’ve loved this space as a child and decided to make this my home as an adult. Our community culture around African Americans in the southwest is rich and full of love and deserves to be heard as a part of the policy process. Just like the other identities I hold. As someone homeless, we must be that vulnerable and need assistance from our community to find our way. As a black man within this community, it’s been important to have the lived experience to look at alternatives to what safety looks like. As a graduate of the University of Arizona, we must work with all of our communities to look at ways to keep graduates here and thrive. As someone who has parents trying to age in place, we must highlight the importance of being in a space where you’ve found community and home. My background is in Tucson.