When Amelia Miller ’15 got home one day last week, she found a group of people admiring temporary tattoos that said “Matt Miller for Congress, Endorsed by the Los Angeles Times.”
Miller’s father, Matt, is running his campaign to represent California’s 33rd Congressional District out of their house. There are 17 other candidates vying to win the votes in the district, which consists of the westside of Los Angeles and many beach cities.
Miller said that the decision to run was a family decision, and together they decided that it was something feasible for their family. In fact, Miller’s father was going to run for office before Miller was born, but her mother said that he could either marry her or run for Congress. Miller said that her father, who is a host of a political radio show and worked in the Clinton administration, had been planning to run for Congressman Henry Waxman’s seat for a while, but did not expect Waxman to retire for another five or six years.
“It was kind of shocking when [Waxman] announced he was resigning, especially because it only left a three-month period for campaigning,” Miller said, “which is kind of absurd.”
Miller said that if her father wins, it is likely that he will move to Washington D.C., but Miller and her mother will stay in Los Angeles until Miller graduates.
“I also think a component of why he’s okay with running now is that I’ll be leaving soon,” Miller said. “It’s not like I’m 10 and he’ll be living across the country. I won’t be home anyways.”
Miller said that the election has not had an effect on her day-to-day life, but that she does help out with it.
“I don’t have an official job, but I go to fundraisers and pass out flyers,” Miller said.
Marianne Verrone ’15 also has a parent running for office — her father, Patric, is running for a seat in the California State Senate. Verrone however, is not interested in politics and has not been involved at all in her father’s campaign.
“He made sure we didn’t have to be involved in all of that, which was very considerate,” Verrone said. “I’m more supportive than interested.”
Miller is a debater, and has always had some interest in politics because of it, but she said that the campaign made her even more interested in it.
“When you hear candidates that are good and smart talking about what they want to do, it hammers home how politics can be the biggest and best tool for creating change on a large scale quickly,” Miller said. “There is no substitute.”
Many of the strategic decisions Miller heard revolved around how to spend money for the campaign. She said that the campaign has had to raise about $1 million in the span of three months.
Another candidate in the district, Mark Matthew Herd is not taking any donations.
“We’re trying to get money out of politics,” Herd said. “There are about five candidates that have raised probably over a million each, and once you get to that level you’re not winning a race based on ideas, you’re winning a race based on money.”
Although Herd did not graduate from the Harvard School for Boys, he attended for two years, and said that although he was not interested in politics in high school, the rigor of his education at Harvard helped prepare him for a career in politics.
When Herd previously ran for a city council seat, his campaign was managed by Yuval Kremer ’89, who is now running for Los Angeles County Supervisor.
Kremer is known as “bus guy and animal guy,” because the two most important issues to him are animal shelters and the bus system.
Kremer, who is the owner of an 8-year-old cat named Sunshine, wants the county to subsidize animal adoptions and spay and neuters in order to stop the killing of animals in shelters.
If elected, Kremer also hopes to increase bus service hours. Kremer does not own a car and relies on the bus. When attending his 25th Harvard class reunion recently, Kremer could not get back home because the last bus left at 6:30 p.m., and the event did not end until after that.
Kremer is running an “untraditional” campaign, which consists mainly of automated calls and web ads, and said that he has not been able to get any attention from major media. He has not been invited to any of the debates held by the major media outlets because they have not deemed him as a major candidate.
“[The way the media ignores some candidates is] bad for society and bad for democracy,” Kremer said. “It’s also just not journalistic.”
Kremer said that he had always been interested in politics, and when he was a child, wanted to be president until he learned that he couldn’t because he was born in Israel.
Like Kremer, Samantha Garfield ’14 has always been interested in politics, but she’s found a way to get involved while still at Harvard-Westlake. She is president of the school chapter of Junior State of America and is mayor of the Los Angeles region of the organization.
Garfield works about 12 hours each week as an intern for another congressional candidate in the campaign for the 33rd district, Wendy Greuel.
Garfield said that this is the first time that she has worked on a campaign, and that she began working after other members of the campaign reached out to JSA.
“I was waiting for a candidate that spoke to me and had all the same views that I had, and I realized that I wasn’t really going to find that unless I ran for office,” Garfield said.
While Garfield will be too young to vote in the June primaries, she said that she will vote for Greuel in the November elections if Greuel advances past the primary.
“I think it’s going to be really empowering that I have such a close connection to the candidate and feel like all of my hard work is going to go for something,” Garfield said, “I can actually influence something. I count, which is nice.”