Pierce College is inviting all interested students to drop by the Great Hall, and participate in its spring semester Day of Politics from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 12
Professor of political science, Denise Robb, has been in charge of organizing this event every semester for the past five years. The event’s content changes from year to year, depending on what elections are coming up. However, regardless of the content, Robb started Day of Politics to generally give students an easy incentive to get more politically involved.
“On this day, students can meet candidates who are running for office and learn about the propositions on the ballot,” Robb said. “They can gain debate skills and learn what’s going on in their city, their state, their county, and the central government.”
This semester, the event will start out with District Director Ron Rubine hosting an hour long teach-in on the Porter Ranch gas leak. The teach-in will include a discussion with panelists organized by Rubine. He was unavailable for comment on who the panelists are exactly.
The main event is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. when Pierce College and UCLA are co-sponsoring a debate among five of the six candidates running for District 27 State Senate. The debate will be moderated by Professor Anthony Gabrielli who said that, though he has been teaching political science at Pierce for the past eight years, this is his first year getting involved with Day of Politics.
“We’re going to ask questions on a broad range of issues,” said Gabrielli. “Some questions will be on local issues in the district and some will be on bigger, overarching issues because, even though all elections are local, [they] still have to show that [they] have a grasp of the bigger picture.”
The primary election for State Senate District 27 will be held on June 7, 2016. The general election will be held on November 8, 2016, the same day as the presidential election. The winning candidate will succeed Democratic Senator Fran Pavley.
Following the candidate debate for State Senate, Assemblymember Matt Dababneh, who represents the 45th Assembly District, will be hosting a meet-and-greet and a Q&A session from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. A financial education and literacy booth will also be available.
Assistant Director for State Government Relations Chaitanya Komanduri, who has been working with UCLA for the past five years, will be the UCLA representative at the event. Komanduri said that UCLA often co-sponsors forums throughout LA County, but this will be the first time they collaborate with Pierce.
“We heard about [Pierce’s Day of Politics] and they’ve had a lot of notable politicians show up in the past, including the mayor,” Komanduri said. “It’s a very visible event in the San Fernando Valley and it gets a lot of community engagement, so we reached out to participate.”
Robb said that in addition to UCLA’s co-sponsorship, she also received help from ASO and from the Dolores Huerta Labor Institute. All organizations said they’re hoping for a big turnout and Robb said they’re expecting about 200 people to be present at any given time.
Day of Politics is a free event and, while there is no need to register ahead of time, the city of Los Angeles will be registering voters at the event. Robb wanted to send out a general reminder that you won’t be able to vote in the presidential election if you’re not registered to vote by the second week of May so she strongly encourages students to come by and register if they haven’t already.
“Due to social media and technology, our society is becoming singularly issued and people don’t take time to go out of their little circle; if they’re interested in economics or fashion, they’re not going to know about politics,” Gabrielli said. “So the biggest thing that I think can come of this day is for people to just broaden their horizons and know what’s going on in the world next door.”