The Westwood community elected four students to the Westwood Neighborhood Council on Sunday in the second election since the council’s inception.
More than 1,000 people from the local community cast their votes for 35 candidates running for 19 positions on the board of the council, which represents Westwood in the City of Los Angeles. This year’s election saw about several hundred fewer people than the council’s inaugural election in 2010, said Steve Sann, chair of the Westwood Community Council who assisted in Sunday’s election.
Sann said the low turnout could be because of there were fewer candidates and five out of the 19 seats were uncontested, partly because there were half the number of candidates running. All but one of the elected candidates were from the Team Westwood slate, a group of local people connected to the Westwood area who pooled their resources to run together in the election. Angus Beverly, a third-year history student, was elected to the uncontested student seat. He originally joined the board in August to replace a board member in a renters seat who stepped down from his position. With an additional two years on the board, Beverly said he plans to focus on improving the cleanliness and safety of the North Village by encouraging residents to take advantage of local resources.
“Just because we are in a college town, it doesn’t mean we have to live in slums,” Beverly said.
Three other student candidates, Mike Stajura, Armen Hadjimanoukian and Sam Haws, filled the remaining seats that represent the renter population in Westwood. Stajura, a graduate student in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, will return for a second term on the board. Although he is not in the student seat, he plans to use his perspective as a student to serve as a liaison between the council and the university, he said,
“We really need to work on improving relations between UCLA and the community,” Stajura said. “We want to find more proactive efforts to find ways to work together.”
Hadjimanoukian, a second year economics and international development studies student, does not have previous experience on the board. He said he followed in the footsteps of his brother who was on the board from 2010 until his term ended earlier this year.
“Because of him, I decided to start campaigning,” Hadjimanoukian said. “I am super excited ““ very anxious to get involved.”
Hadjimanoukian said he plans to focus on bringing new and interesting businesses as a way to attract more students into the Village.
“We are trying to create an environment in which students are going to feel more engaged with the community,” he said.
The final UCLA student on the board, Haws, a second-year economics student, said he plans to focus on increasing access to public transportation in the Village and the availability of free parking. The board members will begin working towards their goals at their first meeting on Nov. 10.