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How to Change California

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Arnold Rocha, University of La Verne adjunct professor of Spanish, says California’s programs and tax revenue make it expensive to live here. “It is nearly impossible to live on a fixed retirement income, “ he says. / photo by Tyler Evains

Arnold Rocha, University of La Verne adjunct professor of Spanish, says California’s programs and tax revenue make it expensive to live here. “It is nearly impossible to live on a fixed retirement income, “ he says. / photo by Tyler Evains

by Anthony Carter
photography by Tyler Evains

We talk about changing our community, but how many know where to go to have their voice heard? Or how many people know who the California Assembly person is for La Verne? Well, Assemblyman Chris Holden has offices located in two locations:, Claremont and Pasadena. Six respondents give their input on what needs to be changed to make this a better place.

Arnold Rocha, ULV Adjunct Professor of Spanish
“Yeah, I know Chris Holden. He was the mayor of Pasadena at one point. I would like for him to do something to live for less in the state of California. I am liberal, but all the programs and the money that we have is making it very expensive to work here. Taxes are crazy high; the reach of government is intense in California. When you think about retirement, how is it possible to live on a fixed income? You have to leave your home because it is too expensive. It would be very interesting what Chris Holden would say about that issue. He has been involved in politics for a long time, and he is a career politician. I think his dad Nate Holden was an LA city councilman, so he knows what he is talking about. I do like some of the taxes they are passing, especially the new gas tax—especially when gas prices were going down—that made me happy.”

Don Kendrick, mayor of La Verne, says that as a politician it is easy to turn a blind eye to issues that are legal yet bothersome to the city. He says that California should offer more understanding to its residents about new laws since people—and also the cities—are sometimes unclear as to how to enforce and follow those laws. / photo by Tyler Evains

Don Kendrick, mayor of La Verne, says that as a politician it is easy to turn a blind eye to issues that are legal yet bothersome to the city. He says that California should offer more understanding to its residents about new laws since people—and also the cities—are sometimes unclear as to how to enforce and follow those laws. / photo by Tyler Evains

Don Kendrick, City of La Verne Mayor
“Chris Holden is our California assembly person. Let me give you something that I think is horrible. California is no longer a safe state as it used to be. The state legislature under Assembly Bill 109 did an early release program of, quote on quote, nonviolent criminals. About 50,000 in the state were released to the county system. Now you have Prop. 47, which is a decriminalization of some things, and if you saw some of those things, you would think, ‘Oh, my gosh, how can someone have a misdemeanor when they do that type of act?’ Then there is Prop. 57, another early release of “nonviolent” people. But when you see the crimes that are non-violent, you realize that Governor Brown does not want people in prison. The problem is he does not produce any money to help rehabilitate these people, provide them education, training, get them on the direction of getting them a job and contributing to society. So, what happens is now you have 100,000 people who should not be out who are breaking into cars, stealing cars, human trafficking, burglarizing homes. There are close to 100,000 criminals on the street doing the same thing that originally got them into jail. I do not know what the answers are, but there are decisions that are being made that I do not think are good for us.”

Marco Cisneros, senior political science and philosophy major, has two holsters. The flip side of his red holster reads “TRUMP, Make America Great Again.” He says that school shootings would be more manageable if teachers and students 21 and over were allowed to carry weapons on campus. Cisneros says that it is not the government’s responsibility to control guns because it is the person who chooses to use a firearm immorally—guns themselves are not the issue. Cisneros is the former president of La Verne’s chapter of Turning Point USA, a conservative organization that works to promote principles of Second Amendment rights, free markets, freedom and limited government. / photo by Tyler Evains

Marco Cisneros, senior political science and philosophy major, has two holsters. The flip side of his red holster reads “TRUMP, Make America Great Again.” He says that school shootings would be more manageable if teachers and students 21 and over were allowed to carry weapons on campus. Cisneros says that it is not the government’s responsibility to control guns because it is the person who chooses to use a firearm immorally—guns themselves are not the issue. Cisneros is the former president of La Verne’s chapter of Turning Point USA, a conservative organization that works to promote principles of Second Amendment rights, free markets, freedom and limited government. / photo by Tyler Evains

Marco Cisneros, ULV Senior Political Science Major
“No, I do not know who that person is because I am from San Diego. I would change the gun laws and the sanctuary city status being pushed right now. As far as gun laws, if students like you and me are law abiding and putting in the hours of training then we should be allowed to carry wherever we go. Ideally, this should be a constitutional carry state. That is what is in the constitution—your right to carry. I mean that is a very radical view; some states have passed that legislation, and one of them, I believe, is Maine. Ever since they passed the constitutional right to carry [a gun], the crime has actually gone down, and now they are one of the safest states in the nation and in the world.”

Gerardo Rivera, freshman kinesiology major, waits for the 492 bus at Bonita Avenue and D Street. He says that public transportation in California needs to be improved. Compared to his hometown of Mexico City, Mexico, everything is spread apart in California with less access to public transportation. At home, he was able to walk almost anywhere. / photo by Tyler Evains

Gerardo Rivera, freshman kinesiology major, waits for the 492 bus at Bonita Avenue and D Street. He says that public transportation in California needs to be improved. Compared to his hometown of Mexico City, Mexico, everything is spread apart in California with less access to public transportation. At home, he was able to walk almost anywhere. / photo by Tyler Evains

Gerardo Rivera, Freshman Kinesiology Major

“I do not know who it is, but I don’t know too much in this area since I am from Mexico City. Honestly, I do not know much about the laws besides knowing right from wrong. However, one thing that I was thinking about changing is that it is really expensive to live here. I would definitely change that. Everything, compared to what I am used to in Mexico City, is so far away. You cannot do much here, especially when you do not have a car. The public transportation needs to be better. To me, it is not very good here, and I would like for it to be easier to access besides Uber and Lyft, even though I know it is just a tap of button to get someone to pay for a ride. In Mexico City, you can do a lot more walking. Everything is so compact whereas here I have to walk up the street to catch the bus going the way I want to go.”

Gilbert Ivey, City of La Verne Planning Commission Chairman
“For this area, it is Chris Holden. I think that the State Legislature needs to become much more focused on the needs of the citizens. The legislature members have gotten to the point where they are so involved with their personal issues that they forget that they are representing the citizens. They need to listen to the citizens on issues that are important and in doing so I believe that we will begin to work on issues such as gun control, violence, the drug and opioid issues, homelessness, water, and issues of energy in the state.

Gilbert Ivey, chairman of the La Verne Planning Commission, says homelessness, gun control and policing are the issues he thinks need the most attention in California. Ivey says that police in La Verne over-respond to calls, sending multiple officers to scenes that would not be considered comparable serious crimes in cities like Compton, where he grew up. Ivey says that the homeless, especially veterans, should receive mental health care and assistance to return to working lives. He says Assemblyman Chris Holden is doing well in trying to help those addicted to opioids and hard drugs by getting programs together with his counterparts to do a “full court press” on the issue. / photo by Tyler Evains

Gilbert Ivey, chairman of the La Verne Planning Commission, says homelessness, gun control and policing are the issues he thinks need the most attention in California. Ivey says that police in La Verne over-respond to calls, sending multiple officers to scenes that would not be considered comparable serious crimes in cities like Compton, where he grew up. Ivey says that the homeless, especially veterans, should receive mental health care and assistance to return to working lives. He says Assemblyman Chris Holden is doing well in trying to help those addicted to opioids and hard drugs by getting programs together with his counterparts to do a “full court press” on the issue. / photo by Tyler Evains

I would like to go deeper into the gun control issue. The shootings that happened in Florida, Charlottesville, the church while a prayer group was in session. That is absolutely unnecessary, and I think that mental health issues and the NRA are fully out of control from the standpoint of their hold on the Congress, the Senate, and the presidential office. The NRA needs to be put back where it belongs. People need to listen to the students, because that’s where change is going to come. I support the young people 100 percent. It reminds me of the Civil Rights youth issues in the ‘60s. It reminds me of the Vietnam War protests that went on when students were being killed on campus and protesting.

I believe that the students today need to rise up, vote, take that seriously, get out there and vote against things that you are not happy with, to do something about it. Run for office, support those that you feel can take your message and make necessary changes in this country.

I lived a whole life with problems in the inner city, which is where I come from. I moved out to La Verne where somebody steals something out of the store, and they think that it is a major crime. I laugh at it; people do not know what crime is in La Verne. I do think the homeless situation is another issue we have to deal with, especially since a lot of the homeless are veterans. For us to have them fight for us, then have them on the street is just unacceptable. I want to thank Mr. Chris Holden on homeless issues and his big support on education for the University of La Verne.

Nazeli Nalbantian, junior political science major, stands in front of the construction site of the new dormitory near Vista La Verne Residence Hall. Nalbantian says that community engagement days should take place where city residents clean up the streets or plant gardens to beautify the city. In addition, she suggests that city fairs and festivals should serve as fundraisers to build new facilities or to facilitate donations to non-profit organizations. / photo by Tyler Evains

Nazeli Nalbantian, junior political science major, stands in front of the construction site of the new dormitory near Vista La Verne Residence Hall. Nalbantian says that community engagement days should take place where city residents clean up the streets or plant gardens to beautify the city. In addition, she suggests that city fairs and festivals should serve as fundraisers to build new facilities or to facilitate donations to non-profit organizations. / photo by Tyler Evains

I would like for him to focus more on mental health, providing services for the veterans and coming up with programs that don’t make them feel so out of place. They are a vital part of the community. We can provide education services, restoration of pride, respect for them and show them the right way to go.”

Nazeli Nalbantian, Junior Political Science Major
“Our California Assembly person is Chris Holden. He is in charge of District 41 and is very interactive with the community, supporting small businesses, low income, veterans, minorities—you name it, he has done it.

If I had any suggestions or anything to say to him, I would tell him that we should have more community engagement days where we can maybe beautify the city or maybe clean up the streets—even have fundraisers through fairs and festivals where the proceeds would go to a non profit, or let’s say build a new library. I am sure he would be open to it since he has already done so much for the community. I am very happy with our current assembly member.” ■

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