The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Community members vote in the California Primary

Members of the community reflect on the process and results of the state primary this March.
Community members vote in the California Primary
Illustration by Sabrina Simek

California residents voted in the primary election March 5 to determine who will be on the November ballot for local, state and federal offices. President Joe Biden won the Democratic Party nomination with 89.2% of the vote, while former President Donald Trump won the Republican Party with 79.1% of the vote, according to the Associated Press.

Among other elections for the Senate and House of Representatives, a special Senate primary also took place to elect a new senator to complete the term of late Senator Dianne Feinstein. Democratic Representative Adam Schiff and Steve Garvey, representing the Republican party, will advance to the general election this November.

Fiona Kim ’24, who voted in the election, said although local politics are often overshadowed by national politics, local elections are important because they are more connected to smaller communities.

“It’s easy for everyone to care a lot about presidential elections because that’s what’s always on the news,” Kim said. “ It’s also important to do a lot of research on local politics because these are people that you can actually contact and will make more of a difference in your life.”

Seth O’Brien ’25, who did not vote, but worked as a volunteer at the Crestwood Hills Recreation Center in Brentwood, said he is more invested in passing local measures because they are decided by slimmer margins than in national elections.

“I definitely care less about the presidential election than local elections in Los Angeles, especially since the national election is so polarizing and, being from California, the electoral vote isn’t impacted by my vote,” O’Brien said. “ Local elections have an impact on my day-to-day life and local measures, which usually get voted on by a pretty small segment of the population. [They]have a more significant effect. I’m more focused on voting on local issues, especially with the [District Attorney]. I would like someone to be elected in place of George Gascón.”

Rex Grube ’25 said he supports Biden for reelection because of his democratic policies.

“Even though I’m not old enough to vote yet, I really hope that Biden will win re-election,” Grube said. “I consider myself to be pretty centrist, but I feel like the Democratic Party is actually trying to bring positive change to our nation, especially considering migrant and gun reform. I can’t believe that a man who’s been indicted four times and has over 90 felony counts is the front runner for the Republican Party.”

In January, Kim traveled with a group of students to visit the 2024 Iowa Republican Caucuses. Students on the trip attended rallies for various presidential candidates and conducted interviews with local voters. Kim said being able to attend the trip allowed her to see different perspectives on national politics and elections.

“Going to Iowa this [winter] was very eye-opening because I got to go to a different region where people have totally different priorities, and I got a better understanding of the country as a whole,” Kim said. “It also helped me have more empathy for people who have different interests than I do. It was also really interesting to understand that America is a bunch of little regions but together we’re a single country that needs to have a sense of unity.”

In the fall, Kim helped organize a voter registration event at the school to help register students to vote in upcoming elections. Kim said students preregistering to vote is important even if they are not interested in politics.

“It’s important to preregister so that you can vote even if you end up not wanting to later on,” Kim said. “I preregistered about a year ago, and it’s a great way to start the process of getting involved even if you’re not old enough to vote yet. Even if you don’t want to get into politics, you should still be aware of how policies can influence what’s going on locally, especially since young people can make such a big difference by voting.”

O’Brien said he enjoyed the experience of being involved in an election through volunteering.

“My responsibilities were checking people in, looking up their voter record and making sure that they’re eligible to vote,” O’Brien said. “We either help them use the new LA County machines to vote, or we also help people if they have issues with their mail-in ballot. It’s a cool experience to be involved with a part of our nation’s electoral process.”

O’Brien said he expects Trump to win the presidential race against Biden this November.

“Looking at polls now, especially polls compared to 2016 and 2021 with the same few candidates, Biden’s approval rating looks pretty low,” O’Brien said. “Moderate voters don’t seem to be particularly gravitating towards Trump, but I would still project that he is going to win in November.”

In the election, voters also voted to pass various measures, one of them being Measure HLA, the City Mobility Plan for Street Improvement Measures initiative, according to the Los Angeles Times. The ballot mandates sidewalk widening, the creation of more bus lanes and other transportation accommodations . One result of the ballot measure is the addition of a bike lane on Ventura Boulevard, meaning there will only be one lane for cars on the street. Sam Pulaski ’24 said he was in support of passing measure HLA and wanted to make sure his voice was heard by voting.

“As a citizen of Los Angeles, I like to have my voice heard and I feel like local elections are more impactful than national elections,” Pulaski said. “Even if one vote doesn’t really matter, it’s nice to participate in a system and think that my voice does matter a little bit. Also, [Measure] HLA is something that I’m particularly passionate about, and I wanted to vote yes.”

Pulaski said he supports the plan because he wants to live in a city where public transportation and biking are viable options for getting around.

“In Los Angeles, transportation is terrible,” Pulaski said. “It’s really hard to get around and traffic is awful. Roads are also dangerous for pedestrians and bikers. The HLA measure doesn’t actually affect taxes at all. The only difference is that now they’re now legally required to implement changes. I am someone that drives a car, and I don’t like that. I would like to live in a place where I can take the bus or even bike to where I want to go. Voting to put that requirement onto the city will eventually make it into the place I want to live in.”

History Teacher Jennifer Golub-Marcus said she appreciates when her students show an interest in politics and current events.

“My sense is that there is curiosity among kids when it comes to politics and elections, but there’s just such an overwhelming amount of information, so sometimes it’s harder for them to get involved,” Golub-Marcus said. “I try to incorporate discussions about current events in class periods. I had a bunch of students come in and talk about the State of the Union Address and the polarity of the rebuttal [speech] . I always enjoy hearing student’s perceptions of what they see going on around them.”

Grube said it’s important for people to know what their elected legislators are working on.

“I consider myself very politically engaged,” Grube said. “I read the news every day and I am really interested in politics and our government. Everyone should be properly informed before making their vote, and I don’t think there’s anything more important than being aware of what your representatives and other senators have been responsible for doing, as well as their motives for doing so.”

Golub-Marcus said she is interested in bringing local political leaders to speak to her classes in the future.

“There are probably lots of opportunities to engage with local politicians in our curriculum that we don’t take advantage of,” Golub-Marcus said. “I have a friend who teaches at Garfield High School, and she brings in local union leaders to speak to the students. It’s important that kids get real world experience and get to hear from local officials because they’re so active in the political landscape. I think that would be great to bring that more into my curriculum.”

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