Alumni make strides in government roles

Anthony Weinraub

With news of nearly daily firings coming from the White House and Congress struggling to pass major legislation, school alumni have experienced mixed success in their own bids for political office.

Reelected Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ’88 won his March election by a landslide, and newly minted LAUSD School Board member Nick Melvoin ’04 won his June runoff against former School Board President Steve Zimmer.

Both of their terms started in July, and they will remain in their positions until 2022 due to a one-time change in the term limit policy.
The change was made in an effort to boost voter turnout, which stood at nearly 12 percent for the March mayoral election.

Garcetti earned over 81 percent of the vote in his election victory while facing 11 other candidates. Melvoin won with 57 percent.

Garcetti, who has frequently been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate by news outlets such as Politico and The New York Times, emphasized his economic record as mayor during his campaign.
Garcetti presided over an increase in the minimum wage and a lowering of business taxes during his first term as mayor.

“To be mayor of LA you have to engage people—you have to earn their love and respect but you have to be strong enough to get things done,” Garcetti said in an all school assembly in 2013.

In contrast, Robert Lee Ahn ’94 lost his own bid to represent Downtown Los Angeles in Congress.

The election was triggered by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s resignation to assume his current position.

While Ahn advanced to a runoff June 6, he only gained about 41 percent of the vote.

“I would say that my Harvard-Westlake experience and education has really formed so much of my foundation and really helped shape a lot of my principles and core beliefs, so I’m forever grateful to Harvard-Westlake and the Harvard-Westlake community for making me the person I am today,” Ahn said in May.

He faced then-State Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez in the election. Ahn campaigned against the failed Republican health care proposal while acknowledging his own past as a Republican.

If he had been elected, Ahn would have been the first Korean American elected to Congress in more than 20 years.

“I think it would’ve been great to have a Korean American representative in the Los Angeles community, but I think ultimately this is just another opportunity for other Korean Americans to step up and maybe good luck will happen next time,” Calvin Koo ’18 said.

Additionally, Special Assistant to the President Julia Hahn ’09, who joined the Trump administration in January, is expected to leave the White House following former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s departure earlier this month.

Before entering the White House, Hahn worked under Bannon and editor-in-chief Alexander Marlow ’04 at Breitbart News, a right wing website.

Hahn worked for talk show host Laura Ingraham before she joined the website.

During her time at Harvard-Westlake, Hahn participated in mock trial, created a fundraiser for the purpose of helping orphan children get American host families and was a member of the jazz band.

Hahn was believed to be ideologically similar to Bannon, and in February The New Yorker described her as “Steve Bannon’s Bannon.”