The Importance of Local Politics: My experience in a USC Neighborhood Council

By Jose Sanchez

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula & Anahi Terrazas

[4 minute read]

Editor’s Note:

Throughout this month, cities across the United States have seen a change in leadership at, not only a national level but also at the local level as many counties and cities also held elections for local government positions. Local government is often responsible for parks, police and fire departments, public transportation, and housing services, playing a large role in shaping the life of community members and the maintenance of the city or county.

– Anahi Terrazas, Co-Editor

The Los Angeles Tenants Union seeks to advocate for the rights of all renters in the city of Los Angeles. At local chapter meetings, renters (or anyone who does not own their own home) voice their concerns and hardships and ask what can be done to remedy their situation. At every meeting, struggling families meet people who have had similar experiences and will almost always find answers to their most pressing questions.

Los Angeles neighborhood councils give ordinary citizens the chance to play a part in local government. As a board member of a neighborhood council, people can collaborate with fellow community members to take part in a variety of community-geared activities, such as working to fund events with the goal of increasing community civic engagement or even introducing ideas for legislative action at a city or state level. I am on two local councils in Los Angeles, and they have given me great insight into the everyday problems that people experience within my community.

Photo by Ioana Cristiana on Unsplash

I am on the board of the Rampart Village Neighborhood Council as a student representative, and I am a contributing member of the Los Angeles Tenants Union’s Beverly and Vermont branch. I joined both of these councils to learn more about the unique difficulties experienced by members of my community and also to identify different ways that I could help my community.

The most pressing issue on most people’s minds is almost always homelessness. In fact, this topic is often brought up by international students during conversation groups. They tell me how surprised, concerned, and even shocked they are to see the prevalence of homelessness in LA.

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

As informative and fun as Neighborhood Council meetings are, I joined the Los Angeles Tenant’s Union because they take a more active role in the community. Being on the Neighborhood Council can be tedious; mostly because we tend to get bogged down by administrative details and we don’t often get to discuss the issues that I want to see addressed. This is one reason we don’t attract much attention from local community members. However, I am hoping to help change that.

In the future, I am considering getting further involved in politics and maybe even becoming an elected official. Technically, as a board member on the council, I am an elected official, but I aim to hold an even higher position and see tangible changes occur in my community.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Though I understand that people are often bored by the mention of politics or government, local politics plays a vital role in people’s lives and communities. Getting involved with local politics can help make a positive impact in your community. In any case, I hope to continue advocating for the members of my community as best as I can.

Featured Image by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

Jose was born in the city of Panorama, CA., but lived in Mexico City for a number of years before moving to Los Angeles. Jose graduated with a degree in Psychology. He enjoys playing real-time strategy video games, running, swimming, and being a part of USC’s fencing club. Though currently undecided, Jose sees himself being either a lawyer, an elementary school teacher, a superintendent, or a school principal in the future. He is also interested in politics and would like to be involved in that arena one way or another as well. When he can, Jose helps his mom and aunt in their elementary school classrooms and enjoys helping the students succeed in their studies.