All politics is local. But for Andrew Lewis, it’s personal.
UCLA alumnus Lewis is a Westwood native: He was born here, he lived here, he studied here and now he serves here.
Community engagement and local governance come easy to Lewis. So it’s only natural the board endorses him as an organizational stakeholder for the North Westwood Neighborhood Council.
In fact, Lewis is one of the founding members of the fledgling council. He chaired its budget committee, allocating grants to community organizations, including $5,000 to the UCLA Community Programs Office’s food closet – a sign that he is in tune with campus and neighborhood issues like food and housing insecurity.
He is also adept at navigating the Los Angeles political labyrinth: He served in the previous mayor’s office, has built relationships with City Councilmember Paul Koretz, represents the NWWNC in the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils and has interfaced with voter engagement groups like BruinsVOTE! and IGNITE at UCLA.
And yet Lewis has maintained close ties to UCLA throughout his time in local governance. He is the president of UCLA’s Mixed Alumni Association and has pushed for NWWNC committee meetings to be held on or near campus, such as in Kerckhoff Hall and the Weyburn Terrace conference rooms, to engage the campus community – an essential step to ensuring the new council’s success.
To be sure, Lewis’ ideas for the council are rather vague. After helping form the foundation of the body this past half year, he hopes to increase housing availability in the neighborhood and improve transportation to and from the campus area – complex issues that require even more complex solutions.
But the Westwood renter has the local relationships to pull off that agenda.
After all, it’s personal for him.
Westwood has a bad habit of categorizing its community members.
Typically, they fall into six groups: students, homeowners, business owners, homeless individuals, visitors and movie stars.
But one community troublingly slides under the radar each time: university and business laborers. Be it in UCLA’s dining halls or as maintenance staff in Westwood Village, these workers – predominantly people of color – don’t see themselves in local governance and are often forgotten by our elected representatives.
Ernesto Arciniega is intent on breaking that norm.
Graduate student Arciniega has a track record of coalition-building with underrepresented communities. He is the Graduate Students Association director of diversity, equity, inclusion and community engagement – a position that implores him to work with associations like the Black GSA and Hispanics Latinx GSA to advocate for their needs. He has also interfaced with community members as a leader in Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan group that brings people to the polls.
These are qualities we desperately need on the North Westwood Neighborhood Council. Local governance, after all, succeeds with representation from the communities that keep the neighborhood thriving.
Arciniega knows that. He wants to push for the formal creation of a homelessness committee that focuses on collecting donations and making UCLA a more active player in combating housing insecurity. In addition to improving housing availability, he wants to have the NWWNC work with UCLA and the city to prepare for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games – a grand event that will flood Westwood’s streets with tourists, congesting roadways and taxing the infrastructure.
Sure, he doesn’t have all the answers for these big-picture issues. But he has what any successful community representative has: the ability to bring people together – especially those who don’t usually get a seat at the table.