Q&A: Chris Holden. Keeping Voters Engaged

6 mins read
Chris Holden wearing a suit and tie
Chris Holden, candidate for LA County Board of Supervisors District 5. Photo; Campaign
This entry is part 14 of 22 in the series 2024 Primary Election Candidates

Chris Holden is a candidate for Board of Supervisors District 5.

Q – People are concerned about the activity in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, especially the trash and general lack of services not included in these programs.

A – We were able to get $2 million last year for trail restoration of the Cheney trails that went to the County for fixing those trails, cleaning up and restoring them. It’s really important to create access and make sure it is going to be in good shape. However, with the increased usage, you start to see the impact – graffiti on the rocks and litter in the canyons, which requires them to have an increase in maintenance, whether it’s through the County or the National Forest Service. This impact starts to show, and then, of course, nature does the rest. The Cheney trail was closed for a while because of floods. It’s a priority for us, and it’s an area that I would obviously look to make sure is taken care of. The County should find the resources to maintain and keep them in good shape for generations.

Q – We interviewed incumbent PCC Trustee Tammy Silver, and she wrote an op-ed for LNP about the PCC Dual Enrollment program. How will you keep these programs at the forefront of your administration?

A – We passed the first bill to expand dual enrollment in 2015. PCC was really one of the first to be enthusiastic and embrace and even lobby for its passage. The legislation was designed to create opportunities for all students to take college-level courses while in high school. So it’s not just the traditional AP students who were able to take those courses, but it was made available to all kids. We’ve written a number of bills over the years to expand the program for DACA students and students of Court schools. Students in a juvenile detention system also have access to dual enrollment through the Court schools. And it’s an ongoing program. We extended the original bill to take out the sunset and time limits. This year, we are planning for additional dual enrollment legislation to allow for priority enrollment for high school students in college-level courses. It makes it easier for them to get into classes. Sometimes, the courses that they wanted were not available. This allows them to get priority.

The idea is that this is going to be in place for a long time.

Students can finish high school with a high school diploma and an AA degree, meaning they can start their college experience after high school as a college junior. This has a lot of implications in terms of affordability for families to have the kids make their way to a four-year institution. So, the tools are in place by all of these dual enrollment bills to make the system work better, to create greater opportunities for kids to feel that they can do the work while in high school, not be intimidated by college work and learn about vocational opportunities. They can think about a major and, ultimately, a career. It gives them an opportunity to look at jobs they may find exciting. A dual enrollment program lets the students get a taste of college and feel that they can compete, do well, and succeed. I think that the intimidation factor melts away, and the sky is the limit.

By 2025, there will be at least a million opportunities for degreed students to step into or graduates to step into jobs that require a STEM level of education. Sometimes, it is a little bit harder for young people to get their arms around science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Dual enrollment creates an opportunity for young people to get excited about fields they may not know about. It gives them skills and development, putting them in a stronger position to become an apprentice after high school or apply for a trade job.

Q – Can you comment on how you might work with the County District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department to decrease crime in the County? Do you have any ideas about how to curtail retail theft in the County?

A – What we’ve been seeing, by most accounts, is attributed to organized crime. When law enforcement gets a better idea of what’s going on out there, they’re in a stronger position. They need to know where the more vulnerable areas are – shopping malls and convenience stores. I’ve seen it happen in broad daylight in the middle of retail establishments that are part of a shopping district and not necessarily in a mall setting. There are some ideas that sound logical to me. There are opportunities to deploy a satellite police station inside the mall. Foot patrols have always been one of the things I thought was valuable, along with equestrian units, so there’s visibility but also mobility.

Having the sheriff, law enforcement, and others come together to form a task force internally to address and target locations is part of the conversation. What was also very valuable was shopping districts having a bit of an assessment district where the merchants can put money in and have an information support team. It’s information people can use to perform some basic policing activities in-house – a way to communicate with law enforcement in an immediate way.

Various tools are available to law enforcement, and we need legislation to help some merchants have resources like surveillance equipment and on-site security personnel. It’s a combination of efforts. Those are the strategies and conversations that we have with law enforcement.

Q – We always want to ask what you think about saving local news and the challenges of a diminishing local free press.

We should be doing everything we can
to ensure that the press stays vital…

A – We should be doing everything we can to ensure that the press stays vital and continues to be at a place where journalism is part of how we get our information and how we keep informed, Everybody is okay with getting their news from their cell phone or technology. But many people still like to get the newspaper, open it up and read through it. What I’ve done before, whether it was trying to help minority press outlets who were trying to keep resources going, fighting against legislation or anything that was taking away those resources that would have essentially killed them off, was to help these mom-and-pop operations and make sure that nothing was done to undermine their ability to keep reporting the news to the respective communities, Whether daily or weekly, we will do what we can to preserve a free and open-accessible press.

Q – What do you want the voters to know about your campaign?

It’s important that every time there’s an election,
voters need to stay engaged.

A – It’s important that every time there’s an election, voters need to stay engaged. When you see what’s happening around the world, and governments are making decisions that impact people’s lives and their quality of life, everybody’s going to have to fight to make sure that we have free and fair elections, that people pay attention to who’s running for office and make sure that those candidates line up with their values. And to the extent that they can, do their due diligence and go out and vote or vote absentee. But participating in the process keeps democracy alive. We become lazy voters or lazy participants of information, and news people are telling us what to think rather than keeping us informed to draw our own conclusions of what is right or wrong, good or bad. We’re losing the hearts and souls of society and democracy when that happens.

Regarding the election coming up in March, they always categorize these as having a lower turnout than a November presidential election. But to be honest with you, there should be no election that they would ever call a low voter turnout because that sends messages that people are getting lazy and not weighing in and not being a part of the process in a way that keeps it vital and meaningful and significant to the operation of democracy. Because if you don’t vote, it’s kind of hard to start criticizing after the fact.

“I think we can do better.”

As a current legislator, I’ve got a pretty robust set of bills we will be moving on next year. As a candidate for the County Board of Supervisors, I have some opinions about why we need change. You can’t lead when you’re doing your job based on headlines. That’s not proactive. That’s reactive. You see the environmental challenges of Chiquita Canyon, Val Verde, and Lake Los Angeles, and the people are frustrated because public works doesn’t respond quickly to them. When you’re in an incorporated area, you have a mayor, a city council and a city manager. You’ve got commissions. You’ve got other things to keep the community connected and responsive. As a Supervisor, you’re the mayor, the council, and the city manager. If the Supervisor can’t get public works to be responsive to communities who are in need, or whatever the challenges may be, then that’s when I say, “I think we can do better.”

Series Navigation<< Q&A: Felicia Williams. Continuing a Community MandateQ&A: Debra Archuleta. Crime, Bail and Punishment in LA County >>
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Sheryl Turner

Sheryl is Local News Pasadena's Publisher and Pasadena Media Foundation's Founder. When not saving local news, she devotes her spare time to finding the best meatloaf in town.
Email: [email protected]

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