The political climate in the United States has never been higher, particularly California. Right at the epicenter is 32-year-old LAUSD Community Coordinator Ankur Patel who is running for the 45th state assembly.
Patel, who graduated with his master’s degree in 2014, has had his hands in politics for nearly a decade. He ran for Los Angeles City Controller in 2013 and just a year later was a candidate as an LAUSD board member.
Although Patel lost in both races, that hasn’t stopped him from representing the community. He was inspired by his own father who went from funding his own education while working at 7-Eleven to graduating from CSUN and then later becoming a rocket scientist. Patel’s father ran for U.S. Congress in 1988, but would later fall short of the votes needed to make the ballot. Despite his father coming just a view votes short, the effort made a lasting impact on a young Patel who was given a taste for politics and public service at an early age.
“One of the things that my father and my family has always emphasized is the importance of education,” Patel said. “We need people who are going to prioritize education at the state level. CSU’s are the engine for the growth and the capacity and the building of the state of California.”
Patel also wants to use his position if elected to focus on environmental issues such as water saving efficiency techniques and reducing the effects of climate change. According to CSUN environmental researcher and lecturer Dr. Loraine Lundquist.
Patel, who worked as a board member on the Northridge East Neighborhood council from 2012-2014, was one of the first community leaders to act when the Aliso Canyon gas leak occurred.
“What most people don’t know is that the Aliso Canyon gas leak is the largest climate disaster in our nation’s history. Even bigger then the massive BP oil spill that happened in the Gulf of Mexico,” Lundquist said. “Ankur Patel was one of the first people who began listening to the residents and taking them seriously. Residents were complaining about smells and symptoms and Patel was one of the first people to start addressing their concerns and I think voters will notice that.”
The vote for the 45th assembly district has never been more dense with seven candidates in the race. This includes former City Council member and officer Dennis Zine. Patel will be attempting to earn the attention of the voters which has often been a largely niche crowd. In the last election featuring Matt Dababneh and Jerry Kowal 167,405 residents went to the polls in 2016; just over half of eligible voters that span from Calabasas to Bell Canyon and Tarzana.
“I’m really continuing that progressive moment that Bernie Sanders started,” Patel said. “We’ve been active here at CSUN and we’ve been tabling and we’ve been fliering and getting young people engaged at a higher level. We include the young people in the decision making process where they can be and want to be engaged. It’s kind of a cyclical problem because when you’re trying to win and you know that voter turnout is going to be 15 percent, you’re going to spend your money on the 15 percent that vote.”
Patel has tried twice already to win public office but has come up short. Will third time be a charm? A special primary vote will take place on April 3. If Patel is one of the top two candidates, then another election will take place on June 5 to decide who will become the next assembly member in the 45th district.