On Oct. 22, coalition chair Marcos Vargas wrote about how popular support for the measure has already improved the quality of life for some of the county's low-wage residents and helped to set a foundation for building a sustainable countywide movement for economic justice.
Earlier this month, the board took the next step and passed a resolution ordering a study on a proposed living wage ordinance, which would require the county to contract only with companies paying employees a minimum of $10 an hour. Approved by a 3-2 margin, the measure remains controversial with passionate advocates on both sides.
It was a busy year in politics both locally and nationally. Among numerous articles by elected politicians and ordinary voters, one stood out.
That was Moorpark High School senior David Graham's account of his experiences at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. He attended as a participant in an educational program sponsored by the Junior Statesmen of America Foundation.
"While most people watched the convention on TV or ignored it altogether, I had a front-row seat," wrote Graham. "I became convinced that our government, to stay connected to its people and simply to survive, needs the involvement of young people. Millions of kids my age couldn't care less about who lives in a white house in far-off Washington, D.C. We need to change that."
Graham returned from the convention ready to do his part. Interviewed last week, he said that after the convention he joined the local Democratic Party and helped with some campaigning. Then, he said, his loyalties shifted to Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, and he spent some time staffing a Green Party table at the Oaks Mall.
The long, convoluted endgame of the presidential election took its toll on Graham's enthusiasm for the electoral process. He fears that other young people, like himself, might be disillusioned by the outcome and the sense that their votes won't really count.
"I'm really sick of both major parties now," he said. "Toward the end, I didn't really care whether [Al] Gore or [George W.] Bush won. I thought the way both sides handled it was really immature."
Yet if anything is certain in politics, it is that a new year will bring new issues, new voices and continued passionate debate. Thanks to all who have shared their perspectives in this forum.
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