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Joe Cigliano stands in the voting booth as he casts his ballot at Allesandro Elemantary School on March 5, 2013 in Boyle Heights area Los Angeles, California. Turnout is expected to be very low among the city’s 1.8 million Angelinos.
When it comes to national elections, Hollywood isn’t shy about taking a vocal stand on the issues. But Angelenos have a less engaged reputation when it comes to local politics. With another election day upon us, why are Los Angeles voters so apathetic to politics in their own backyards?
Is it geography? Los Angeles takes up 503 square miles, not counting the sprawl of other local municipalities, which may mean disparate priorities for different areas. Is it the confusion between which civil services are provided by the City of Los Angeles or the county which shares its name? Is it the fragmented media coverage? Could it be the decentralized power of the mayor? Outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa won the office from his predecessor, Jim Hahn, with a mere 34 percent of the electorate in 2005.
How engaged are you in local politics? What would need to change to get you into the voting booth?
Raphe Sonenshein, Executive Director of The Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles