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NWWNC undergraduate student member – Joey Russel and Nahian Arfin

(Daily Bruin file photo)

By Editorial Board

May 16, 2019, 2:27 am

Joey Russel

Joey Russel brings an abundance of experience and creative ideas to the table that will benefit the North Westwood Neighborhood Council’s reach with undergraduate students.

His platform focus is on advocating for affordable housing options in Westwood by voicing support with the City Council for various local and state measures. In addition, he wants to expand democratic access in local elections for students by pursuing options like online voting – especially important given students’ increasing disengagement from local politics.

Russel has been engaged with the new council since its inception, regularly canvassing for Westwood Forward, as well as serving on NWWNC’s land use committee this past year. In addition, he demonstrates a familiarity with advocacy from his time campaigning to pass gun reform legislation in Broward County, Florida, and on former Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum’s campaign.

His experience pushing for legislation will especially benefit his affordable housing platform, specifically in his stated goals of garnering support for various pieces of California legislation, such as Senate Bill 50 and Senate Bill 329, that seek to increase the amount of high-density housing in the state and reduce housing discrimination, respectively.

Russel boasts an impressive body of work and increasingly necessary platforms that make him a well-deserved representative for students in the upcoming NWWNC.

Nahian Arfin

Nahian Arfin has an eye on the important issues in Westwood. He might want to focus on some specific solutions too, though.

Arfin’s platforms pertain to affordable housing and food insecurity among students. He said he would like to challenge the definition of “fast food” to bring more restaurants with student-friendly budgets. While he is largely unclear on the ways he would make this change, he has his finger on a key reason students look outside Westwood for their food needs.

As for housing, Arfin said he wanted to continue to advocate for California Senate Bill 50, which would allow for more housing in zoning areas previously allocated for single-family housing only. He also said he wanted to work closely with the upcoming Agora housing project to ensure it meets student needs. Again, he’s in the right place, but sparing in details.

Yet he has the potential to come up with the answers. He was the publicity director of the Undergraduate Students Association Council Election Board and has worked with Westwood Forward, the coalition that helped found the North Westwood Neighborhood Council, for roughly two years.

While he doesn’t necessarily boast a wealth of experience, this track record demonstrates familiarity with the council and its members – something necessary for transitioning onto the council. Furthermore, his background in outreach stands to help him connect students to a largely inaccessible council.

Sure, Arfin’s proposed changes are modest and at times undefined. But they demonstrate a keen eye for the issues students find important.

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