Families from across the Santa Clarita Valley met with their elected officials and religious representatives for a meet-and-greet dinner at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex on Sunday.
Among the elected officials to speak before constituents were Rep. Katie Hill, D-Agua Dulce, Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, Saugus Union School District board member David Barlavi and Canyon Country Advisory Committee chair Alan Ferdman.
Other speakers included Artesia City Council member Ali Sajjad Taj, Mon Couja of Al Umma Center of Santa Clarita, Abdo Jaber of the Islamic Center of the Santa Clarita Valley, Mahbubul Haque of the Unity Center of Santa Clarita and activist Jarin Islam.
Each speaker was given an allotted amount of time of 10 minutes or less to address the audience, talking about their respective experiences, accomplishments and goals to reach.
Moazzem H. Chowdhury, one of the event’s lead organizers, initially reached out to the Santa Clarita community through Facebook to come to the free event and have people from all different backgrounds to hear from their leadership. Several dozen families appeared in attendance.
“Our community, they’re not connected (and) never got the opportunity to meet their leaders,” Chowdhury said. “That is what I told (our elected officials, to) just come over, have dinner with us and say something. There will not be a town hall meeting or any discussion, just they want to hear from you.”
After he spoke to the audience, Couja said he believed people were created by God to connect and help each other, rather than be enemies and fight.
One of the guests, Fatima Islam, said she thought the meet-and-greet brought new opportunities for people in Santa Clarita.
“I thought it was very sweet and open,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of events, but there hasn’t been a lot of events that have included politicians or people like that. Our community, as much as we’re involved, we haven’t been very involved with politicians. So when I heard about this meeting, I was excited because this was something a little bit new. Stuff like this has happened once or twice in the past.”