Students dine with local representatives at the inaugural Lunch with Legislators


CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny addresses the crowd at the Lunch with Legislators event on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Photo Courtesy of CSUB ASI.

Sarah Montano


The inaugural Lunch with Legislators was the final event of a weeklong voter registration campaign on campus, which emphasized the importance of voting while registering students to vote.

Local legislators came to CSU Bakersfield on Thursday., Sept. 27 to have lunch with their constituents at the lunch.

Associated Students, Inc. brought students and community members together to talk with local legislators and their representatives over a free buffet lunch in the Stockdale Room of the Runner Café.  The lunch was an opportunity for students and community members to have candid conversations with local officials.

Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-CA; City Councilman and Vice Mayor, Bob Smith; City Councilman, Willie Rivera; Aaron Falk, field representative of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-CA; Lauren Skidmore, field representative of Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-CA; and Lilly Agbalog, field representative of Sen. Jean Fuller, R-CA, were in attendance.

“I’m so happy to be part of this today.  I can’t think of anything I’m more passionate about than servant leadership and this is servant leadership, underlined, in capital letters.” CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny said in her speech welcoming luncheon attendees.  

This is the first of many civil engagement opportunities ASI will provide on campus, according to Krystal Raynes, director of legislative affairs for ASI. Director of legislative affairs is a relatively new position and this is Raynes second semester on the job. Under Raynes, Lobbycorps has been created and 251 students have been registered to vote this year on campus, which is a record according to Zelezny.

“I’m getting inspiration from all of the other CSU’s, especially Fullerton. Fullerton has amazing civil engagement. Someday I hope to have panel discussions, debates about gun reform, debates about immigration. Someday we’ll have that here and it will be so cool,” Raynes said.

Short, introductory speeches were given by Zelezny, Raynes and Jose Garcia, vice president of university affairs for ASI. But the majority of the hour-long lunch consisted of people talking at their tables; voicing their concerns, learning about their local representatives and discussing the political climate.

“This is my first time going to something like this. And I just wanted to get to know my politicians,” Daria Espinoza, a sophomore liberal studies major said before the legislators arrived. She chose to sit at assemblyman Salas’ table because she was familiar his politics.

Rawiah Osman, a sophomore liberal studies major said before legislators arrived, “I think this actually comes at a time where Rudy [Salas] is a democrat and we live in a very republican town so I feel like it’s interesting for us to see their perspective on what they’re actually willing to do.”

She added that she wants to know, “Are you running to save your seat or are you running for us?”

City Councilman Smith and the people sitting at his table discussed concern for hyper-partisan politics at the national level and the need for intellectual conversations with people who have multiple points of view. Smith also emphasized the importance of local government.

“The conversation is usually state and national but your daily quality of life is really determined much more by your local government,” Smith said. He said that when city and county police, fire, roads, parks, water and sewage aren’t being taken care of, then national politics aren’t as important.

Smith said, “When your toilet’s not flushing and it’s coming back up in your street, than that’s the number one problem.”

At a table of six women, Field Representative Agbalog spoke about Jean Fuller’s accomplishments as the first woman superintendent of the Bakersfield City School District and the legislature she has brought for the betterment of education.

“Another real big milestone for her is she was the very first republican woman leader of the whole state of California,” Agbalog said. “This year she stepped down because she wanted to mentor and allow somebody else to step in, and who did she want and chose but another woman.”

Falk, McCarthy’s field representative, addressed attendees at the end of the event about applying for congressional interns.

“We are hungry for college students and we prefer roadrunners,” Falk said. “You don’t have to intern for somebody you necessarily vote for. One of the most eye opening things about this is how non-political the day to day life at the office is.”


CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny addresses the crowd at the Lunch with Legislators event on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.
Photo Courtesy of CSUB ASI.