Assemblywoman Gonzalez speaks to students

Antonio Pequeño IV, Staff Writer

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The Office of Diversity Educational Equity & Inclusion hosted the “Conversations that Matter Series”on Nov. 15, inviting professor Stephen Nichols and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of California’s 80th State Assembly District to speak on student voting and civic engagement.

Gonzalez was elected in May 2013 and is known for her 2014 legislation, which allowed millions of Californians to become eligible for paid sick-leave, regardless of employer size or sector.

The discussion kicked off with Nichols a political science professor,  delving into how Gonzalez came to work in public service.

Gonzalez described her involvement and her political efficacy as always being evident from her youth to her motherhood. She stressed the fact that when she ran for a seat in the assembly, she ran as an “organizer, union leader and as a mother.”

The conversation then shifted to the topic of voter turnout amongst the general population, specifically people 18 to 29 years old. Nichols spoke about the popular vote and how on Nov. 15, it clocked in as 61.4 million for Clinton and 60.5 for Trump. This means that roughly 97 million people did not vote.

Gonzalez then addressed the possible reasons for those who didn’t vote and also spoke about people’s politically motivated reasons not to vote; she touched upon the cost of voting.

In California, the difficulty of voting has decreased. Although, Gonzalez pointed out the fact that not every state is as accommodating as California when it comes to voting.

“If you look at a state like North Carolina, the number of people who decided not to vote is smaller than the number of people who didn’t have the necessary identification to vote or had to stand in line for five hours in order to do so.”

In regards to some states restricting the access to vote, Gonzalez said, “I think it’s the most un-American thing we can do. No matter what side anyone is on, the prospect of widening voting accessibility can typically be agreed upon.”

Lastly, Nichols raised a question by asking, “How would you encourage students to get involved?”

Gonzalez responded by encouraging the use of free speech, putting importance in local politics and reaching out to senators.

She emphasized that communicating with senators in any way, is going to become important with the high probability of a conservative and Republican nominees, filling the vacant seat within the Supreme Court.

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