California Secretary of State Alex Padilla had an appeal to Golden Valley High School students gathered in the gym during first period Wednesday:
“If your votes make a difference, it’s now,” he said.
Padilla was visiting for his High School Voter Education Weeks tour that started Monday and wraps up Sept. 28, focusing on civic engagement in schools. At Golden Valley High, he talked about growing up in the San Fernando Valley with immigrant parents.
“For me growing up, getting into politics was the last thing I thought I’d be doing,” he said. “I went to (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to get a mechanical engineering degree. But then I realized it’s the most effective way to invoke change.”
Padilla said that young people were the biggest voting bloc in America with the least amount of political activity, and encouraged the students to get involved with the process.
“Your service-people get voted in by the voters,” he said. “Regardless of whether you come from a rich family or a poor family — if you’re 18 years old, you’ve heard our pitch. Now you have a conscious choice to make.”
Josh Stimac, the high school’s social studies department chair, was excited to have Padilla urging students toward political activism.
“Some of these students might be the first in their families to vote,” he said. “If they can see this politician is a real person and they have a right to vote — it hits home more than hearing about it in a government class. If it hits home for even a few students, then it’ll be worth it. They deserve to have their voices heard.”
Senior Samantha Scaglione, the Associated Student Body president, said she felt Padilla’s visit was a great opportunity for students to understand how democracy worked in the country.
“I think this is a way for students to know every vote counts,” she said. “I hope they can understand how much it contributes to our democracy. As for me, I feel it was meaningful to translate how I’m an elected official in our school, to showing how it functions on a larger scale within our state.”