In light of a leaked recording of L.A. City Council members making racist remarks, mostly towards Black people, Los Angeles voters’ interest in elections has reignited and gotten them more interested in deciding who is in power.
Members from the incident have since resigned, including Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Rob Herrera and Council President Nury Martinez.
Since then, voters express concern about who they’d like to remain in power, as well as who they’d want to vote out.
“Makes me wonder what else politicians say behind closed doors,” said Ryan Young, a second-year nursing major at CSULB.
Matt Lesenyie, assistant professor of political science at Long Beach State, emphasized the long-term consequences that will linger in communities of color and government in the future.
“It exposes cleavage between [Black people] and Latinos, that won’t be forgotten,” Lesenyie said. “The memory of this will be lasting and will cause some distrust.”
Some students at Long Beach State said they felt more inclined to vote in the upcoming elections, as well as become more informed on politicians in power.
“I don’t want that type of person in control or power,” said Jesslyn Tran, 17.
Although Tran is not of age to vote, she said she was ready to do research on federal and local candidates.
Political science student Karla Cardenas, 22, said young voters need to do their part and vote in the smaller elections as well as the major ones. She understood why voters her age may feel discouraged from voting when there is constant negativity surrounding politicians and how they act, but she urged her peers to continue using their power to do research and vote.
“There’s always going to be bad representatives,” Cardenas said. “It’s your job as a voter to get rid of that.”
Prior to the leaked audio, Herrera advocated for a labor union center here at Long Beach State. However, due to the controversies surrounding the audio, Herrera’s leadership was called into question by his peers and the public; plans for the center are still underway.
Young voters are typically the demographic with the lowest voter turnout rate; however, their turnout has increased in recent years. In the 2020 presidential election, voter turnout in college-aged individuals (18 through 24), increased by nearly 20 percentage points, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Despite this increase, groups with the highest turnout rates were older, white, and more educated, according to usafacts.org.
Lesenyie urges young voters to continue showing up to vote and know the context behind controversies in the media.
“This is a moment where change is very likely to happen, drastic change,” Lesenyie said. “In moments like these, actually, your participation is worth more.”