Isla Vista Leaders Attend National Young Elected Officials Convening

“Navigating the Crossroads of Change,” in Washington, DC

Goleta School Board Member Ethan Bertrand and Isla Vista Community Services District Director Spencer Brandt attended the national convening of the Young Elected Officials (YEO) network, “Navigating the Crossroads of Change,” in Washington, DC from June 27-June 30.

YEO, a program of the People for the American Way Foundation, is a nonpartisan organization of nearly 1,300 elected officials at all levels of government. Current and former YEOs have served in offices from local school boards and municipal government bodies to state leadership, Congress, and the President’s Cabinet.

“It was an honor to attend this year’s YEO convening and study cutting-edge issues in public policy and government,” said Spencer Brandt. “When young people in elected office come together to learn and grow, it empowers our communities. Meeting other elected officials who represent communities like Isla Vista, and exchanging strategies and initiatives has helped me to better serve the people of Isla Vista.”

“It was inspiring to once again be in the room with hundreds of peers who are working to build relationships between young people and government during a time of unprecedented challenges to democracy,” Ethan Bertrand said. “This convening reminded me of the broader significance of the work that we do at the local level as young leaders. By collectively working on common issues – such as education, housing, and community safety – we can make positive change not only in our local communities, but also across the nation.”

“Young elected officials are facing huge challenges today,” said People For the American Way Foundation President Svante Myrick, who served as the youngest mayor in New York State history. “In addition to racial and economic inequities, the loss of reproductive freedoms, and attacks on education, there are real threats to the future of our democracy. At the same time, there are tremendous opportunities presented by new technologies and innovative thinking. YEOs are ideally positioned to lead in this environment and this convening helps give them the tools to do so.”

The convening included discussions and workshops on a number of topics, including: advancing equity in public education, preventing gun violence, enhancing voter access, and more. A workshop with Moms Demand Action/EveryTown for Gun Safety provided an update on red flag laws, which California helped lead the nation in implementing following the 2014 Isla Vista mass shooting. California Assemblymember Matt Haney and former Stockton, CA Mayor Michael Tubbs led a discussion on reducing poverty. The convening also included a visit to the White House by the nation’s young elected officials, which Bertrand and Brandt attended alongside several school board members and city council members from throughout California.

Bertrand, Brandt, and SBCC Trustee Jonathan Abboud – a fellow local member of the YEO Network – are committed to mentoring and supporting other young people interested in serving in local elected office.

Ethan Bertrand serves as the Goleta School Board Member for Area 5, which includes Isla Vista, UCSB’s West Campus, and nearby neighborhoods. Bertrand was elected in 2022, following service on the Isla Vista Community Services District Board of Directors. Bertrand is 27 years old and an alumnus of UC Santa Barbara.

Spencer Brandt serves as a Director of the Isla Vista Community Services District, Isla Vista’s municipal government agency. Brandt was elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2022, and has worked to improve safety and enhance the quality of life. Brandt is 27 years old and an alumnus of UC Santa Barbara.

People For  the American Way Foundation,  a national progressive advocacy organization, inspires and mobilizes community and cultural leaders to advance Truth, Justice and the American Way. We convene courageous Americans, produce compelling media and organize campaigns to defend our democracy from authoritarian threats and advance America’s promise that everyone will enjoy freedom, safety and a vote that counts. Learn more: http://www.pfaw.org.

YEO group photo. (Courtesy)
Bertrand and Brandt with fellow YEOs at the White House. (Courtesy)
Selfie with Santa Monica Councilmember Caroline Torosis, Los Angeles Library Commissioner Mayra Valadez, and Bedford, NY Councilmember Andres Castillo. (Courtesy)

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