Local politicos gather at USC as Karen Bass is honored with award

The USC College Democrats held an awards ceremony Sunday to honor former California State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.

Bass, who is currently running for Congress, was given the Jesse M. Unruh Award to honor her commitment to the Democratic Party and the state of California. The award, named after former California state Treasurer Jesse M. Unruh, is given annually by the USC College Democrats to local politicians who have demonstrated exemplary service.

Honored · Sylvia Castillo accepts the Jesse M. Unruh Award from the USC College Democrats on behalf of Karen Bass, a former California State Assembly Speaker who is currently running for Congress. - Sunil Murali | Daily Trojan

“We like [to choose] people with connections to USC who have done a lot of great work for California and for the Democratic Party,” said Bobby Almeida, president of the USC College Democrats.

Bass graduated from the USC Keck School of Medicine’s Primary Care Physician Assistant Program and worked for years as a physician assistant before pursuing politics.

Bass had planned to attend the ceremony, but was pulled away at the last minute because of extenuating circumstances. She was represented by her senior adviser, Sylvia Castillo, who accepted the award on her behalf.

“I thank you all on behalf of the speaker for honoring her hard work,” she said.

Castillo spoke about Bass’ accomplishments and goals and her reasons for running for Congress this year.

Also at the event was James Westbrooks, the district director for California state Sen. Curren Price.

Westbrooks spoke on behalf of the senator and told the students he would try to set up a meeting with the USC College Democrats as soon as possible so they could get a chance to speak with the senator.

Sunday’s event, which was attended by approximately 30 people, also served as a fundraiser for the College Democrats. Money was raised by donations from elected officials, as well as some attendees.

“We hope to raise a little over $1,000,” Almeida said.

The USC College Democrats have used money from previous fundraisers to organize events on campus and travel around the country.

“The money is for our club so we can do things like canvas in Nevada, like we did in the 2008 election,” said Aja Heisler, director of external communications for the USC College Democrats.

The majority of the attendees were members of the USC College Democrats. Students from UCLA also attended.

“We tried to publicize the best we could,” Heisler said. “We really wanted to give USC students a chance to come out and meet Karen Bass.”

Jonathan Brebner, a current member of the USC College Democrats, said he was extremely excited his club was honoring Bass.

“I never even considered missing it,” said Brebner, a junior majoring in political science.

Brebner said he is very happy about the work that Bass did during her term as California assembly speaker.

“I think [Karen Bass] is a fantastic politician,” Brebner said. “She did her job well.”