House 60B candidate Joe Patiño says he wants to reach out to one group he feels has been especially overlooked in the area: the University of Minnesota’s Greek community.
Student issues like tuition and housing — especially as they pertain to Greek students — and immigration make up a large focus of Patiño’s campaign. He is running for Ilhan Omar’s former state House seat, which represents communities including the University of Minnesota, Augsburg University, Marcy-Holmes, Prospect Park, Seward, Como and Cedar-Riverside.
Patiño will run as the Republican nominee against DFL opponent Mohamud Noor in November’s election.
A specific tab on Patiño’s campaign website is devoted to issues affecting Greek life, where he addresses the need to support the growth of fraternities and sororities at the University and across the state.
"[Greek life] gives people a home and I think that's what people need," Patiño said. "We need that companionship. I strongly support what they stand for. Doing service, providing leadership opportunities and lower cost for housing."
Greek leaders met with Patiño earlier this year to discuss issues that affect the community, specifically housing and tuition rates, according to Panhellenic Council President Kaela Juarez.
"Those were important issues for us to discuss because it affects everyone on campus," Juarez said.
Although he formerly attended the University for a semester, Patiño has never been involved with Greek life himself. His interest in the community stems from their camaraderie and service initiatives, he said.
"I think Joe is one of the most passionate people I've ever met. He's super dedicated with students and interested in creating bonds and media with the Greek community," Junior Panhellenic Council President Claire Doty said.
Housing has been an ongoing issue for the Greek community. Several Greek chapters haven't been able to buy houses in recent years because of rising prices and lack of availability, Doty said.
Patiño recently took time off from his classes at the University to focus on work for an investment company that works with student housing complexes. He said he can work with Greek organizations to develop alternative housing options.
"I'm looking to work with individual chapters. Do we want to build Greek apartment complexes instead of traditional Greek housing due to the scarcity of land and how expensive it is?" Patiño said.
Juarez said the Greek community isn't allowed to officially endorse a candidate, though she did introduce Patiño to Greek members and continues to provide email updates to the community on leaders’ conversations with the candidate.
Patiño has expressed concern about recent media coverage on the Greek community, which he said is often negative.
"Promoting partnerships with Greek life and local government could promote more positive connotation in media," Doty said.
Patiño plans on coming back to the University for the Spring 2020 semester to finish his degree in communications.
"I'll be back on campus if I'm in the seat or not," Patiño said.