On Monday, IUPUI student Nick Roberts announced his candidacy for Indianapolis City-County Council, representing District 4.
Currently studying political science and economics, Roberts made headlines last year for his work addressing gerrymandering in Indiana. Now Roberts makes headlines for being one of the youngest candidates to run for city-county council.
Roberts also has experience managing campaigns during his time working with the Indianapolis Democratic Party, which is why he decided to manage his own campaign.
“When I call people, telling them, ‘Hey, I'm doing XY&Z for my Nick Roberts campaign,’ I feel like it's implied I’m the candidate based on how I phrase it, but they say, ‘What's your relationship to the candidate?’ And I say, ‘I am the candidate.’ I think just because of my voice, or my age when I walked into the room, they often assume it's not me, but I hope that the maturity shows.”
Even though Roberts is a Gen-Z candidate at only age 22, his usual strategy for reaching out to voters is through more traditional means by going door-to-door and making phone calls.
“They're going to put a mailpiece out telling people, I'm too inexperienced, … he's 22, how would you ever elect him?” Roberts said. “But I do think that my strategy is to meet people at the doors and build a relationship, if I don't already have it, and go from there.”
He also utilizes more modern marketing tools like social media. Roberts is active on Instagram and Twitter (@NickRoberts317), and just started a Tik Tok account (@nickrobertsforindy) to market his campaign to younger voters.
“I think, fundamentally, America/Indiana … is not a very civically engaged community, and we need to start changing that because that's how we get better government, by having people that are engaged,” Roberts said. “Oftentimes you'll get this notion of ‘Politics sucks, so I'm just gonna give up,’ ‘Why even care?’ but it's the opposite. Politics sucks, which is why you should get involved. That's the only way it gets better. If we just give up it's only gonna get worse.”
Roberts shared that one of the biggest lessons he has learned from his time working on other campaigns was that most people are not informed about the parties, the candidates, who their current local officials are or even which district they are voting in, but he believes it is still possible to connect with those voters.
“You have to find ways of overcoming that; you have to build those relationships in a way that you can talk about the issues that are important, but you can't just talk about it from an academic sense, you have to talk about it [in] the way that it affects people.”
Roberts is content with his goal to serve on the Indianapolis City-County Council, and is not currently making plans to run for higher offices in the future
“I don’t want to rule anything out for the future, but it’s really something I’d like to take day by day,” Roberts said. “Indiana tends to be more of a red-leaning state, and the fact that Indianapolis is one of the few areas where Democrats have the majority makes me feel like it's a place where I can make a positive difference. As long as I get the chance to serve on the council, I will be honored.”
Listen to the full audio interview with Nick Roberts here.
Katie Wiseman (she/her) is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in Spanish. She is the Editor-In-Chief of The Campus Citizen.