The Daily Nexus endorses Lea Toubian, third-year political science and environmental studies double major, for External Vice President for Local Affairs.

Courtesy of Lea Toubian

The Nexus believes that Toubian’s experiences working as a senator and with local campaigns in I.V., in addition to her specific goals if elected, have lent Toubian an advantage over her opponent, Yasamin Salari, who is running with the Isla Vista Party. 

However, that is not to say that Salari would not do well in the position — while Toubian has the edge, we believe that both candidates are incredibly qualified to serve as External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA). Our campus would be in good hands regardless of who is elected. 

Toubian’s platform focuses on increasing the I.V. community’s access to its local government and addressing student needs in times of crisis, which includes creating a cohesive emergency response plan that involves the university, the Isla Vista Community Services District (I.V. CSD) and other organizations.

Additionally, Toubian aims to increase voter registration among both students and I.V. residents, develop proactive responses to sexual assault in I.V., hold landlords accountable for cliff erosion in I.V. and continue environmental projects such as the I.V. Compost Collective.

However, the Nexus does doubt the feasibility of Toubian’s goal to hold landlords accountable in addressing cliff erosion during her term as EVPLA. 

Toubian’s involvement with Campus Democrats her freshman year allowed her to embed herself in the community and foster personal connections with the I.V. CSD. She also worked as the external director of Associated Students Lobby Corps and was involved in the Measure R campaign, which secured funding for the I.V. CSD in 2018. 

During her sophomore year, Toubian served as both an on-campus senator and as the secretary of Campus Democrats. After she returned from studying abroad this year, she took a position as the chief of staff for current Internal Vice President Alli Adam. Toubian believes that her time working with the Senate has prepared her for the role of EVPLA, despite not having worked directly with the office before.

“I had to learn a lot about the communities that exist at UCSB. I had to learn about how to listen and uplift other people’s voices instead of putting mine ahead of them,” Toubian said. 

“Instead of imparting my own biases on someone or a group of people, instead of speaking on behalf of people, [I learned] how to be the representative and actually uplift their voices using the platform that you’re given.”

By working as chief of staff for Adam, Toubian said the position, along with her involvement in Campus Democrats, allowed her to stay connected with various groups on and off campus. Pulling from her experiences from Campus Democrats, she also sees voter registration for the upcoming November election as a priority for the office.  

Toubian also identified various issues around campus that she would like to address using the full power of the EVPLA office, including food insecurity, housing issues and sexual assault in Isla Vista.

“The benefit of having an office under you is that you could also specifically delegate people to make one issue or a small handful of issues their priority, which I think is a lot more effective than having one person try to tackle and say that they’re going to tackle every single issue,” Toubian said.

“We’re each able to tackle and be the spearheads for each issue and they can become experts on the topic. There are people who are passionate and most importantly, they’re people who have relevant experiences with that [issue],” she continued. 

Toubian also hopes to expand access to resources by widening normal outreach through Facebook and door-to-door canvassing, particularly for the non-student population in I.V., by providing translation services for non-English speakers.

Even though Toubian is receiving our endorsement, the Nexus believes that Salari would also do well in the position. 

Salari served as an on-campus senator on the 69th Senate but was removed in Winter Quarter 2018 for violating the eligibility requirement for the position, which states that on-campus senators must live amongst their constituents. In her interview with the Nexus, Salari cited financial issues as the reason she moved off campus and said that her work in the EVPLA office over the past few months inspired her to run for the position of EVPLA and improve it.

Salari’s platform focuses on expanding on the university’s timely warning system to include any incidents of violence in I.V., not just on campus-associated property. She said she also hopes to work with Students Against Sexual Assault, Take Back the Night, the Title IX office and the Interfraternity Council to establish monthly meetings to assess the campus’ sexual assault climate.

While Toubian is well-versed in the I.V. CSD’s structure and its work, Salari had more tangible experience than Toubian in working directly with the I.V. CSD, as she currently serves as the I.V. CSD coordinator in the EVPLA office under Christian Ornelas. 

Through this role, she became familiar with the projects of past EVPLAs, such as the police collaborative board, to address safety issues between students and police, a project she hopes to continue. It was also clear that she is knowledgeable about the various entities that the EVPLA and the I.V. CSD work closely with and has working relationships with many of them. 

Salari also wants to provide a direct bus shuttle between I.V. and Camino Real Marketplace for students to acquire essential groceries, but she was not able to provide a tangible plan or distinguish why her plan was different from the bus lines already in place.

She also recognized the importance of groups in I.V. besides students, such as the houseless population and families, and wants to work to establish a line of communication through the EVPLA office to learn more about non-student populations.

Throughout her interview, it was clear that Salari was the candidate who had her ear to the ground in I.V. and on campus and would likely raise more awareness of the EVPLA office among students and student groups. Toubian, whose experience was more political, would benefit from Salari’s student-oriented approach. 

While the Nexus believes that Toubian’s experience lends her to be a better fit for the position of EVPLA, we acknowledge that both candidates’ work and familiarity with the office and I.V. speak to their qualifications for the job.

Update: The Nexus has replaced the portraits done of each candidate with their self-submitted headshot. We heard concerns about the portraits not accurately reflecting what the candidates look like and will actively work to ensure that this will not happen in the future.