Despite the end of the 2012 presidential election, many of USC’s more politically minded students have chosen to continue in their campaigning efforts, this time on a local scale in the 2013 Los Angeles mayoral race.
With five major candidates vying for the office currently held by outgoing mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the campaigns have focused heavily on some of the biggest municipal issues, such as local job creation, the public education system and environmental regulation. But elections aren’t won with just words.
The ability to mobilize supporters to vote is critical to the success of any campaign, which is exactly what several Trojans have committed to doing through internships with the various candidates.
Many students who are passionate about politics, such as Kaya Masler, a junior majoring in English and political science, have found interning to be another outlet for their political interests.
“I’ve always loved local politics,” said Masler, who interns for Greuel’s campaign. “[It’s] very exciting to be a part of it all.”
According to Masler, the day-to-day work of the campaign involves everything from making phone calls to voters to organizing official endorsements. Greuel, currently serving as city controller, has gained tremendous momentum following endorsements from major figures such as U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer. Yet the most rewarding part of Masler’s experience has been getting to know the candidate personally.
“I think that looking up to our leaders is something that is so lost to us these days,” Masler said. “But Wendy is one person who I can not only look up to, but who also looks at me like a friend.”
Ashlyn Beierle, a junior majoring in political science currently interning for city councilmember Jan Perry’s campaign, felt the same way. Beierle found her internship through USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.
“I really appreciate Jan’s commitment to the private sector, which she addressed at the debate,” said Beierle, referring to the mayoral debate at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Monday.
Beierle, who plans on pursuing a law degree, spends 10 to 15 hours a week communicating with constituents and walking precincts to help inform Angelenos of Perry’s platform points.
For Omeed Anvar, a junior studying business administration and political science, there is never a boring day on the campaign trail. Anvar has spent his time working for city councilmember Eric Garcetti’s campaign, conducting policy research and sending out press clips through the campaign’s communications department.
“I love that no two days are the same,” Anvar said. “I’m always doing new jobs for the campaign.”
After working for Sen. Boxer’s office last spring, Anvar sought to become involved in Garcetti’s campaign, which he admires for its innovative use of technology in the political process. Garcetti recently participated in a Reddit “AMA,” answering questions posted directly by voters.
Because the mayoral race is so localized, Anvar said campus engagement can have a big impact on election results.
“It is so important that USC students get out and vote in the election,” Anvar said. “We are such a large student body and can have a huge impact on who gets put in local office.”
Though each backs different candidates, Masler, Beierle and Anvar all expressed a serious interest in remaining involved in political campaigns, and possibly even in seeking public office themselves one day.
A citywide primary election will be held on Tuesday, March 5. Any candidate receiving a majority in the primary will automatically become the next mayor of Los Angeles. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will advance to the general election held on Tuesday, May 21.
Students can register to vote for the Los Angeles mayoral election online at sos.ca.gov/elections by Feb. 25 for the primary election and May 19 for the statewide direct primary.