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Westwood Neighborhood Council candidacy open Tuesday

By Tyson Ni

March 3, 2014 2:23 a.m.

Students and other community members can file for candidacy Tuesday to run in the Westwood Neighborhood Council elections.

Westwood Neighborhood Council is an advisory board that passes motions related to Westwood residents, organizes community outreach events and provides grants to schools and nonprofit organizations.

Anyone who works or lives in Westwood, including students and other residents, can file their candidacy until April 3. The elections will take place on May 18, and all 19 seats on the council are open for relelction.

Individuals on the council each serve a two-year term, and each councilmember represents a different constituency. There is one student position on the council and students also tend to run for one of four rental-residental seats.

UCLA students and other stakeholders in Westwood are allowed to vote in the election. Students need to show their BruinCards at the polling places, which are yet to be determined.

The motions the neighborhood council passes are not legally binding, but they carry weight in the city council, said Ryan Krebs, a recent UCLA graduate who represents renters on the council.

The neighborhood council is part of the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils, which consists of 13 neighborhood and community councils in West Los Angeles. The alliance allows Westwood Neighborhood Council to greater influence what the Los Angeles City Council does because a motion carries greater weight when multiple neighborhood councils pass it, Krebs said.

Some student members on the council said while UCLA students make up a significant portion of the population in Westwood, UCLA student participation is generally lacking in the neighborhood council’s events and elections.

Angus Beverly, a fourth-year history student who holds the student seat on the council, said he is using outreach efforts through social media and a monthly culture event called Westwood LIVE to get more students involved in Westwood.

Beverly said that while he understands that students prioritize academics over extracurricular activities, he believes that Westwood would benefit from increased student presence on the council.

Councilmembers are working to increase student representation on the neighborhood council. For example, there are now five current students or recent graduates on the council, compared to two in the previous term, Beverly said.

Armen Hadjimanoukian, athird-year economics student and Facilities commissioner on the Undergraduate Students Association Council, holds a renters seat on the Westwood Neighborhood Council. He said he is going to run for re-election this year.

Hadjimanoukian said he is concerned about the lack of streetlights in the North Village. He is working on an assessment that will demonstrate the link between darkness and crime and plans to present the findings to the neighborhood council if he is re-elected.

Krebs said his top concerns are street repair, traffic and parking. He said driving down Sunset Boulevard is a “bumpy” ride and plans to bring more attention to the issue if he is re-elected.

Some students have already expressed interest in running for a position for the first time.

One prevalent issue in the next election will be whether the installation of a bike lane on Westwood Boulevard would benefit Westwood.

Daniela Pakzad, a Westwood resident, said she is worried about the safety of cyclists on Wilshire Boulevard during rush hour. She said she thinks installing a bicycle lane, a contentious issue among Westwood residents, would not protect cyclists from colliding with speeding cars.

Pakzad said she will support a candidate who shares her views on issues like the bicycle lane.

Krebs said he thinks students who are considering running for the seats should attend the council meetings to familiarize themselves with the issues that affect Westwood.

Krebs said he is working with UCLA administration, student representatives and alumni to increase student involvement in the neighborhood council.

The meetings take place at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at Westwood Presbyterian Church.

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