A group of people outside smile for a picture.
CFA Northridge member Loraine Lundquist and Senate District 20 candidate Caroline Menjivar celebrate Labor Day earlier this year.

CFA Northridge member Loraine Lundquist wants to see fewer career politicians and more community servants elected to office. She’s one of several CFA members working to elect candidates and pass initiatives that strengthen public education and social justice.

“When trying to convince politicians to pass good policy, quickly you become aware of the importance of having the right people in those seats,” said Lundquist, sustainability lecturer at CSU Northridge and campaign manager for Caroline Menjivar for Senate District 20.

Originally an astrophysics researcher, Lundquist decided to work toward solutions for climate change – both in the classroom and in the political arena.

“I had an epiphany moment after I had my kids. When I was researching climate issues, I thought about it in terms of what the future would be like for my children when they are my age.  … It took me on this journey. I read research papers and I became concerned,” she said.

Calling or reaching out to voters on their doorstep can be intimidating. Lundquist admits it was overwhelming at first.

She started by googling “climate change organizations making the biggest impact.” She found a meeting and attended. Volunteering or donating can also feel like therapy that relieves the many national and local stressors.

“It doesn’t take a lot to get involved. Just one volunteer event – that’s more than most people do. And it’s never been easier to volunteer. So many events are virtual and online that you can make calls from the comfort of your own home with like-minded people,” she said. “Find a friend or show up to a meeting and come there to make a friend. It’s these personal connections that make it fun.”

Participating in the political process can make a difference – especially in local races. Menjivar said running a grassroots campaign means limited resources.

“During the primary I had no campaign manager, field organizer, or volunteer coordinator and it was a tough road to navigate,” she said. “CFA has phone banked for this campaign and had a strong showing at a recent canvassing event! Our momentum has drastically grown, and CFA is a big reason for that.”

Lundquist ran for Los Angeles City Council in 2020, coming up short by 800 votes. She’s also a state delegate to the Democratic Party. Lundquist and partner Matthew d’Alessio – also a CFA member and CSU Northridge geology professor – are volunteering to get Menjivar elected. Even their children help sort fliers, stuff envelopes, and knock-on voters’ doors with their parents.

CFA members with Caroline Menjivar.

“Caroline is a more qualified candidate, is more interested in the issues. She has a track record of service, activism, and working for the community. She’s from an immigrant family.” Lundquist said. “Her mom was a house cleaner. Her family was evicted during the subprime mortgage crisis, so they were housing unstable for a while. She has the lived experience of so many people of this district.”

Senate District 20 covers the San Fernando Valley and Burbank and includes Arleta, Canoga Park, Lake Balboa, Lakeview Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Reseda, Sun Valley, Sunland-Tujunga, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Van Nuys, and Winnetka

Every election feels like the biggest, most important. A lot is on the line this year – investing in public education, strengthening reproductive rights, providing shelter and resources for the unhoused, expanding access to healthcare, protecting our environment, combating racism, and fighting for social justice.

“It is crucial to elect individuals who at their core are social justice warriors. We need people who understand, especially firsthand, the impacts of social barriers and racism. It is important to volunteer for candidates who have proven, before even running for office, their dedication to uplifting everyone’s voice. Now, more than ever, we need people in office with lived experiences who speak firsthand on the injustices they wish to dismantle,” Menjivar said. “A candidate can’t do it alone; I can’t do it alone. I need the support of the people, to ensure our united message gets out there.”

Though many try to avoid politics, participating is one way to transform our feelings of hopelessness into action to shape our communities.

“I struggle with it with my students and climate change – they feel so shocked and depressed, and they believe they have no power. We discuss what their power is and how they can use it to make meaningful change. It’s the same with politics, especially at the local level where it’s easier to have an impact,” Lundquist said.

“Positive change comes when individuals who believe they can make change get together with friends and like-minded people toward a common goal.”

Find ways to volunteer with your CFA colleagues and check out CFA endorsements.

Paid for by the California Faculty Association. Not authorized by a candidate or a candidate-controlled committee.

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