It has been 45 years since a Cal Poly student was last elected to serve for the San Luis Obispo City Council.
Philosophy senior Christopher Lopez intends to change that.
Inspired by John F. Kennedy’s successful start as a young politician, Lopez is running for one of the two open council member seats in the San Luis Obispo General Municipal Election taking place on Nov. 8.
“I see a life for me after college in San Luis Obispo and what better way to be a part of the community than to help shape it as a council member?” Lopez said.
Though six other competitors vie for the two available spots on city council, there are no incumbent candidates and Lopez’s optimism holds steady for his campaign.
“It just fit in with the right timing,” Lopez said. “I’m going to graduate soon [and] it’s one of those situations where, you know, why not [run for office]?”
The balancing act
Lopez has scheduled time to maintain the balance between academics and running for office. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Lopez spends most of the afternoon walking around neighborhoods and introducing himself. He spends the evenings working on his campaign and class assignments.
“So, with the help of a lot of coffee — in appropriate amounts, I learned at a previous candidate’s forum, that too much caffeine affects my debate performance/ presentation — and taking naps when I can, I can make the most of the time I have available throughout the day. I imagine as we approach election day, the nights will get longer, the hours we will be more packed,” Lopez said in an email to Mustang News.
To allow for ample campaigning time, Lopez is taking three classes which he scheduled from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“So, I choose classes that would be back to back in order to make best use of available time,” Lopez said in his emailed statement.
Anything but a greenhorn
An avid participant in local politics, Lopez is no newcomer to the world of government affairs.
His resume includes two years of experience on the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors as a chairman for the ASI Advocacy Committee, an appointed representative in the California State Students’ Association (CSSA) and most recently, an intern for Cal Poly’s Office of the President in the Government Relations branch.
Lopez particularly enjoyed meeting an array of politicians, from State Senator Bill Monning to Assembly member Katcho Achadjian, both representatives for San Luis Obispo in California state government.
“You hear about these individuals on the news or you see them on TV, so getting the opportunity to actually interact with them in person was just amazing,” Lopez said.
In each of these settings, Lopez also gathered valuable insight into “what Cal Poly is doing with local government, how they’re collaborating, and what issues exist between Cal Poly and the city and county.”
It is this unique student perspective that Lopez has established as the foundation for his campaign.
“There are a lot of individuals that I’ve spoken to from the community that want to see something new within our local government and they’re excited to see a young individual running for city council,” Lopez said.
The plan, if elected
If elected, Lopez aims to rebuild and fortify town-gown relations — the political relationship between the “town”, or non-academic population/permanent San Luis Obispo residents, and the “gown,” consisting of university faculty, staff and students —especially those relations pertaining to the lack of affordable housing within the community.
He emphasized that his role as council member would not solely revolve around acting as the voice for Cal Poly students, but rather for the city as a whole, uniting the two primary constituents of San Luis Obispo to energize and fuel the city’s prosperity.
“It’s not just a fresh perspective where I provide [insight] on students’ [views], but also a community perspective, figuring out what innovative and new ideas we can come up with together to address some of the concerns,” Lopez said.
For more information on Christopher Lopez’s stance on issues, visit www.christopherdlopez.com.