Five UCLA students were elected Sunday to the Westwood Neighborhood Council, an advisory board that represents the Westwood community to the Los Angeles City Council.
The council formed in 2010 and receives a $37,000 budget to fund initiatives that support the Westwood community.
UCLA students Jacob Finn, Eugene Tseng, Austin Velez and Armen Hadjimanoukian won all four seats available for the rental residential group director position. Aurelia Friedman was elected over Jin Ong for the student director seat.
About 660 votes were cast in the election, a significant decrease from the more than 1,000 Westwood stakeholders who voted in the last election.
The low turnout could be a result of very few contested positions, said Jay Handal, the poll manager overseeing the election.
Five out of 19 seats were uncontested for the second election in October 2012.
There are three different ballots voters can choose from – a business, residential owner and residential renter ballot. Handal said the Westwood Neighborhood Council is one of the few neighborhood councils that allows voters to pick their own ballot so a person can proclaim what interests fit them.
“Other neighborhood councils require documentation to vote, so in order to vote on the business ballot, for example, a voter needs to prove they are a business owner,” Handal said.
Several UCLA students said they voted because certain candidates sought them out and presented their platform to them personally.
Eytan Davidovits, a third-year economics student, said he voted for Finn for rental residential group director because of his platform’s initiative to alleviate traffic in Westwood.
He added that he wanted to see the next council really focus on the parking issue in the village and fix the streets throughout North Village.
LeAnn Kelch, second-year international development studies student, said Tseng’s goal to boost retail business in Westwood was important to her since the community has a huge consumer base and the change would be beneficial for both students and businesses.
Friedman said she plans to ensure that the council communicates how influential it is to the students and not just during election season.
Hadjimanoukian said he was excited to be a part of the council for a second term. He is ready to get to work bridging the gap between the different governing bodies in Westwood, he added.
Tseng, who said he was surprised and relieved when he heard he won the position, echoed Hadjimanoukian’s sentiments.
“I’m looking forward to working with the community and getting my platforms done,” Tseng said.
Contributing reports by Yael Levin, Bruin senior staff.