Q&A with our newest team member, Zach!

We're excited to introduce everyone to our newest team member, Zach Lindner. Zach joins Apparatus as Research and Policy Associate. Check out our Q&A with Zach to learn more about him and the value he brings to our growing team!

So Zach, you've been behind the scenes at the MN Capitol -- what were some of the most important things you learned?

I learned to keep two key pieces of advice in mind while working at the Capitol: Foremost is to leave your ego at the door. Political stances aren’t personal attacks, and recognizing that gives you the flexibility to oppose an individual on one issue and be their ally on another front. The second is that we have one mouth and two ears. Always listen more than you speak, and listen with intention. That’s the only way to really understand the driving motivations behind anyone’s positions, and the best best way to demonstrate your sincere desire to work with them.

Oh, also I learned to pack a water bottle for Senate Committees. I never did find a water fountain in that building.

Ok, but what was the best lunch in the DOT cafeteria?

I don’t know about lunch, but their breakfast pancakes are delicious.

We know you've worked on political campaigns, too; 2020 was pretty chill (jk) but any interesting highlights?

Probably the most interesting aspect was the unique ability to increase access to our internship program through Zoom. We had one student from the University of Minnesota conduct his internship remotely from his home in California! Poor guy had to wake up at 7:00 AM for phone banks!

If someone was looking to launch a field campaign in a year where the pandemic continues, or really anytime going forward now that we’re all a little more weary, what are your top recommendations for finding success in connecting with constituents?

At the end of the day, a campaign is a community. That’s as true during Covid as it was before the pandemic. Campaign communities are only as strong as the engagement of their candidates. Attend every Zoom phone bank and stay there the entire time. Thank each person who comes individually, and thank them every time. If you’re comfortable doing social distanced in-person events, make sure you meet up with your team before and after. Put in the work to build your campaign community, and they’ll carry you over the finish line.

We know you love board games, if you were going to make lobbying into a mash-up of board games, what would you put together and why?

I spent way too much time figuring out how to answer this, but here goes:

  • Five players are Lobbyists, and three players are Senators. The Senator with the most points wins, and the Lobbyist with the most points wins (there are always two winners).

  • A bill is proposed with 10 amendments.

  • Each lobbyist supports five of these amendments and opposes 5 amendments. These positions overlap. Each lobbyist also has $100.

  • Each Senator supports four amendments, opposes three amendments, and has three negotiable amendments.

  • The game takes place in two stages: Deliberations and Voting. During deliberation, Lobbyists negotiate to earn Senators’ support for their amendments and to block amendments they don’t like. Money can be donated to Senators at this time. Voting occurs after deliberations. During voting, the Senators vote yes or no on each amendment. Senators cannot abstain from voting.

  • Senators receive one point for every pro amendment passed, one point for every amendment they oppose that fails, and no points for negotiable amendments. Also, whichever Senator has the most money in their campaign fund receives a bonus two points, with second place receiving one bonus point. The Senator with the most points wins.

  • Lobbyists receive two points for every amendment they support that passes. Lobbyists lose one point for every amendment that passes. The lobbyist with the most points wins.

  • Play multiple rounds for the most realistic gameplay!

What is your favorite podcast?

As a bit of a history nerd, there’s no better podcast than Hardcore History with Dan Carlin. I’m over 21 hours into his deep dive into the Pacific Theater of WWII, and waiting anxiously for his next 3-hour installment.

How long would you last in a zombie apocalypse?

If I could survive my sophomore year of college on just ramen and scrambled eggs, I can survive anything.

Lightning round!

Favorite food?

For dinner out, I always choose a filet mignon. But the food I eat the most is chips and salsa by far.

Favorite Beverage?

Apple cider right as the leaves start turning

Favorite color?

Definitely navy blue

Favorite holiday?

I’m a sucker for the 4th of July. I love all the traditions of parades, barbecues with friends, and fireworks. As a history major, I also spend the day revisiting stories from the revolutionary war. It’s an incredible story of the scrappy underdogs coming together to face down impossible odds.

Coffee order?

I never got into coffee, but always keep a Mio caffeine mix in my desk for emergencies.

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