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UCLA to host forum for 26th California Senate district candidates

By Alex Torpey

May 13, 2014 1:54 a.m.

UCLA will hold a forum Tuesday for candidates running for the 26th California Senate district, which includes Westwood.

The district, which follows the Los Angeles coast down to Ranch Palos Verdes, was redrawn following the 2010 census but has yet to elect a senator.

UCLA was formerly included in the 28th district, currently represented by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), one of many candidates running for U.S. Congress to replace now-retired Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills).

Eight candidates are currently registered to run for the seat. Of these candidates, seven are registered Democrats and one, Seth Stodder, is an Independent. Democrat Barbi Appelquist declined to attend because of work obligations.

More than 45 percent of voters in the district are registered as Democrats.

Having so many candidates from one party has made this particular race more unpredictable than a two-party race, said Chaitanya Komanduri, a spokesman at UCLA’s Office of Government and Community Relations.

On Tuesday, the candidates will answer questions mainly from a panel of three selected UCLA community members as well as the audience.

Nicole Fossier, a fourth-year political science and psychology student who also works in the Undergraduate Students Association Council Internal Vice President’s office, will represent students on the panel.

Fossier said she wants to motivate students to learn more about the candidates and vote in the election. Voter turnout in the UCLA area has traditionally been low, she said.

“It shows our representatives that students aren’t paying attention,” Fossier said.

She said she thinks if students came out to vote in the election in force, it would ensure that the University of California is represented.

Jan Reiff, chair of the UCLA Academic Senate, will represent the university’s faculty and Kristen Holdsworth, a project manager at the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA, will represent alumni and staff on the panel.

The panelists drafted a list of questions about common issues in California races and divided them up, Fossier said. She said she will ask the candidates three questions, including how they plan to deal with undocumented student concerns and their views on legalizing marijuana.

The Office of Government and Community Relations is holding the forum because of the great importance of UCLA to the district, Komanduri said.

He said UCLA is a large economic force in the district, and the elected senator will be looked to in large part to represent the needs of UCLA in the state legislature, including state support, Komanduri added.

“The person that represents the campus is the person we look to first for leadership in Sacramento,” Komanduri said. “The fact that the campus itself is in the district is what makes it pertinent.”

The forum will take place in Korn Convocation Hall in the UCLA Anderson School of Management and will be moderated by Keith Parker, assistant vice chancellor of the Office of Government and Community Relations.

Compiled by Alex Torpey, Bruin contributor.

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