Price hosts first ‘Lunch with a Leader’ event

first_imgApproximately 25 students along with alumni, professors and Los Angeles community members met with Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles Raquel Beltran as part of the first “Lunch with a Leader” event. The luncheon was hosted by the Sol Price School of Public Policy’s Judith and John Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise at the Widney Alumni House.Reaching out · Executive Director of the League of Women Voters Los Angeles Raquel Beltran poses with Raphael Bostic, director of the Bedrosian Center on Governance. – Photo courtesy of Aubrey HicksThe Bedrosian Center hosts events that connect students with leaders in the community in order to educate students on the strengths and workings of governance, as well as policy and its effects on citizens.The theme of the event was how to increase voter participation and the quality of votes cast.At the beginning of the event, Raphael Bostic, director of the Bedrosian Center, posed two questions to the attendees: “Why do we see such little turnout in our elections?” and “What should we do about it?”Responses varied from requiring voting by all citizens, having a raffle for every person who votes, informing people more effectively of when elections are, closing down all the business on Election Day and investing more time and energy into civic engagement.“Voter turnout is the last step in the process,” said Terry Cooper, a professor at the Price school. “Civic engagement starts before that.”The group brainstormed different ideas for several minutes.“Let’s have public informational and neutral meetings in large public places, like libraries, to help inform people of elections and the process,” said Seema Yedavalli, assistant director for career services at Price.Beltran, who has led the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles for six years, responded in opposition to the suggestion and opted for a different approach to the same idea.“Find out what meetings are already taking place, and have an audience and leaders and ask if you could present your issues there,” Beltran said.One of the issues is that the voting population of Los Angeles does not account for renters.According to Beltran, two-thirds of Los Angeles’s population is made up of renters, but two-thirds of its voting population is composed of homeowners. She emphasized that citizen participation was necessary to address the diverse needs of Los Angeles residents.“It’s nice to see the League is interested in getting broad participation [from] people who do not normally get involved,” said Erik Yesayan, an ’08 alumnus. “This is what inspires me to stay involved. I loved the idea that voting should be the last step and that a lot needs to get done before and after for more civic engagement.”The event ended with Beltran encouraging students to get involved.“I always say do something,” she said. “Do something. Find out where you’re comfortable and just get into it. If every single one of you does something at the level you can manage and something you’re comfortable with, that is a big change.”last_img read more