Today, citizens will vote in the primary elections for both Democratic presidential candidates and numerous local officials, propositions and policies for their district. For the San Fernando Valley, which includes Studio City, there are two other notable elections taking place: United States Representative of District 30 and the State Assemblymember of District 46.
Four candidates will run against incumbent Rep. Brad Sherman in District 30 and one will challenge Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian in District 46. Since 2012, Sherman and Nazarian have represented California’s 30th congressional district and the 46th State Assembly District, respectively.
Since his election, Nazarian has advocated for the protection and expansion of the film industry in the San Fernando Valley, an increase in mass transit and infrastructure improvements to better manage vital water resources, according to his campaign website. Nazarian hopes that his work on the Assembly speaks for itself in gaining votes among the district.
“I’m hoping that people are taking notice of that work and that I don’t need to constantly focus on campaigning to say the wonderful work that I’m doing but that they actually see it, feel it, touch it and know that the important investments are being made,” Nazarian said.
Mark Reed is a Republican candidate running against Sherman for Congress in District 30. His main priority is to improve the severe homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, but he is also concerned about the growing property taxes and cost of living in the San Fernando Valley, Reed said.
This year, California has implemented a new system in order to encourage more voters to participate. The voting period began Feb. 22, allowing voters 11 consecutive days to fill out ballots. Additionally, voters are now able to visit any polling center in the country and can use the new ballot marking devices, designed to be efficient and faster, according to the Los Angeles County Clerk.
Nevertheless, Nazarian said that, while local elections are very important for each district, they are not noticed as much by voters, especially during such an important election year like this one. He said that he was underwhelmed by the low number of votes from his district as the election was drawing nearer.
“As of [Feb. 26], only 10 percent of my district had voted,” Nazarian said. “I represent a very influential district. I represent an area that has a very significant part of the entertainment industry, a lot of different technical industries, so it’s got the best of the best in many arenas. It is surprising to see that my constituents are not performing where they need to be performing, given that it’s a presidential year and a very important primary.”
Although she is 18, Neeku Sharifi ’20 said she will not participate in the primaries because she feels her vote will not matter until the election day for the presidential candidate in November.
“Even though I’m old enough to vote in the primaries, I don’t intend to because I feel as if my vote in the primary election won’t make that much of a difference,” Sharifi said. “I’m going to vote for the Democratic candidate no matter who the Democratic candidate is for this election.”
However, the ballot also includes propositions such as Proposition 13, a $15-billion bond measure to improve school and college facilities in California, will show up on the ballot. This proposition, while supported by many schools in California, has raised concerns from the Los Angeles Unified School District, according to the Los Angeles Times. The voters will decide the fate of this legislation March 3.
Dean Reiter ’20 said he will be voting in the primaries but is not aware of any of the local elections that are occurring in his district. While he believes they are important, he finds the presidential race more interesting.
“I think [the local elections] are actually probably more important, but I haven’t researched them as much because they aren’t as much fun to talk about,” Reiter said. “But I think the local laws are more important because those are more likely to affect me directly.”
Reed said that he believes that voters should place more emphasis on local politics in these elections, regardless of party, because only a local representative can give full consideration to the values of a community.
“I do not want to be driven out of here by policies that make it impossible for my kids to buy a house, for my kids to start businesses, for my kids to walk the street safely or for my wife to walk the streets safely,” Reed said. “I want somebody to implement policies that will help guarantee those aspects of life.”
Nazarian said he has a similar outlook and emphasized the importance of effective policymakers that hold local positions.
“We have to look at society in a zero-sum game way where if you don’t make the appropriate investment now, there will be a lack of opportunities in the future,” Nazarian said. “Those lack of opportunities could lead to folks making poor decisions that then impact all of us when we are trying to do our best to make our environment a better place. All it takes is a few individuals making a few mistakes that have severe consequences for many.”