Political science and economics major Miguel Alex Centeno ’11 says the idea to run for California Democratic Party assembly delegate came completely by chance. “I had worked on a couple local elections and got to know quite a few people who were politically active in the community, one of whom thought I would be a good candidate,” he says. As it turns out, voters did, too. Centeno recently became the youngest delegate elected to the 51st district, along with city council members of Lawndale, Hawthorne and Gardena, commissioners of public works boards, and other veteran community activists.
Assembly district delegates are unique in that they comprise groups of 12 representatives – six men and six women – for each assembly district in California. They make up a larger state delegation that is responsible for voting on party resolutions, endorsements and on the party platform.
“For me, this was an opportunity to voice some of the concerns I had about the state’s deteriorating education system and economic policy. As a young father of two, I have a vested interest in how the state addresses these issues,” Centeno says. “I wanted to stop complaining and take action — that is what my education here at LMU has taught me to do. Getting elected to a party office, I thought, was a good start.”
Although he is still a student, Centeno has already acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience to take with him to the assembly. For more than a year he has worked for LMU’s Communications and Government Relations department, where he has been actively involved in outreach efforts with local and state issues. Last year, he traveled to Sacramento to testify in support of continued funding of the Cal Grant program at the Joint Legislative Hearing on the Master Plan for Higher Education. He has also served as an intern with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles as well as Los Angeles City Hall.
As a delegate, Centeno says he has the privilege of working alongside seasoned politicians to make sure the concerns of his community are voiced, mobilized and addressed – an opportunity for which he feels honored, humbled and excited.
“Today, I realize, there is too much at stake and too little done. That is where I plan to be different,” he says. “Here at LMU, I’ve always been challenged to fight for what is just, and for me, that fight continues as an assembly delegate.”