Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, and Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval were invited by the political science department and Associated Students Inc.’s Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday, Nov. 1 to speak with students about the importance of civic engagement and voting.
Mario Guerrero, assistant professor of political science, opened the event by asking why young people should vote.
“How many of you are actually excited about the direction of where this country is going?” Sandoval began.
The audience responded with a quiet stillness.
Two hands were raised.
Leyva said that in the 2016 elections, 93 million people did not vote and the United States might be in a very different place politically, had those people voted.
Leyva said that because young people are the future, they should see the importance of knowing the issues that face their community and recognize that they have the ability to decide the environment they want to live in.
Guerrero opened the next discussion by asking what kinds of issues young people should be concerned about when voting.
Leyva said the answer was jobs, healthcare, pensions and education.
One of the biggest concerns for Sandoval is the redistribution of wealth.
He said that it is a critical issue because it has a direct impact on most people’s everyday lives.
Sandoval said that because many people do not trust government officials, he pushes the importance of electing people with integrity, honesty and transparency.
“I look at myself as someone who needs to bring people up behind me and gets good people elected,” Leyva said.
Both elected officials then gave students specific advice to get actively involved in political issues.
Leyva suggested interning with a politician or any elected official that one respects.
She also said that getting involved in a campaign is an important thing to start with.
Sandoval proposed that students look outside to their own community and find something that they see is wrong and work toward fixing it, because the most important issue is the one that is relevant to that person.
He said some of Pomona’s major issues to deal with are homelessness, roads, the housing crisis and schools.
“Pomona faces a really serious financial challenge,” Sandoval added.
With rising pension and infrastructure costs, cities have to ask voters to chip in through taxes. Sandoval said that this is a difficult thing to do, but he stressed the importance of getting ahead of the issues.
Leyva discussed major local issues also, such as rent control, safety and education.
Sandoval said there are three major categories that determine whether a city does well: public safety, a clean city and good schools.
Both Sandoval and Leyva stressed that civic engagement is one of the most important aspects of change.
“The degree to which you are engaged is the degree to which, I believe, this country is healthy,” Sandoval said.
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