A CSUDH Professor’s Passion For Politicscsudhbulletin September 11, 2020 0 COMMENTS
Professor Charles Thomas hopes to take the win in the city of Carson’s District 1 race in November. Photo courtesy of Charles Thomas.
By Brenda Fernanda Verano, News Editor
This fall, besides continuing as an instructor at California State University, Dominguez Hills’ College of Business Administration and Public Policy, Charles Thomas has embarked on a new political journey as a candidate for the 2020 Carson City Council.
Thomas has been a professor at CSUDH for over a decade and served as president of the Academic Senate last year. He has called Carson home since 2004, and says he is taking his passion for his community to the next level by running for the seat in the city’s District 1, which is in north Carson, where CSUDH is located.
Thomas is one three candidates running against incumbent Jawane Hilton.
Thomas’ leadership initiatives are not only specific to his time at CSUDH, as the chair of the Academic Senate he advocated for the university to be declared as a sanctuary campus for undocumented students and for food and housing insecure students. Throughout the years, he’s also taken these initiatives to the Carson Planning Commission, where he served from 2015 to 2018.
It was while serving on that city commission that Charles’ reasons for his candidacy became clear. He recalled being presented with significant issues within the commission, one of them a housing development project that is now Union at South Bay, where housing currently ranges from $1,898 for a studio to $4,156 for a two-bedroom.
Thomas said he had asked the developer to consider adding low-income facilities to the project, a request that was refused.
“This told me I needed to consider running for City Council if I wanted to truly effectuate change in the city [of Carson],” he said.
The upcoming general election will be different for all Carson residents since the city was forced to transition from “at large” elections and into their very first district-based council election. Only voters residing in Districts 1 and 3 will be electing council members this November.
Just like at CSUDH, Latinos are the dominant voter group in Carson, which makes up 38.8% of the city, and , 29% of the total population in District 1, according to the estimates of the 2019 Census Bureau.
Thomas is the only candidate for District 1 who is an educator. He is competing against current council incumbent and pastor Jawane Hilton, veteran councilman Elito Santarina, and Vincent Kim, an attorney.
“Bringing innovation and change that Carson deserves,” is Thomas’ campaign slogan. He plans to bring his entrepreneurial energy and adopt a “Sunshine Ordinance,” legislation that will ensure greater transparency by city-elected officials and place a limit on “endless debate” during city meetings.’
If elected, Thomas, who was a first-generation college student, wants to provide a pathway towards direct civic engagement that could inspire many Toros.
“I’m thinking of a movement that is beyond mys›elf,” Thomas said. “If I can provide a playbook from what I’m doing here for other [students] to do the same in their communities then that’s the legacy I want for my campaign.”
Justin Blakely, a CSUDH alumni, and 2018 student body president can testify to the inspiration Thomas describes. After graduation, Blakely ran for Compton City Council in 2019 and is now a candidate for the board of Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD).
Blakely met Thomas in his freshman year and said he endorses Thomas because,”he’s always made sure the voice of the people are not only heard but amplified, he’s been very vocal about making sure that students were not only registered to vote but that there was a pipeline for them to be able to be engaged and informed citizens of our local state and federal politics.”
When asked if he’d continue teaching if elected ?Thomas answered: “Absolutely, I view my work on campus and research interests as [a positive factor] to my service on City Council. Academic pursuits that don’t resonate in the real world miss the point.”
For information about the Carson city elections, visit https://ci.carson.ca.us/Government/Election.aspx.
For additional information on Thomas’ campaign, visit https://www.thomas4council.com/ .
Local, state and federal elections are being held this November. If you are a citizen of the United States and at least 18 years of age at the time of the election, you can vote. Request a vote-by-mail ballot by Oct. 27, 2020, or vote at the polls on Election Day: Nov. 3, 2020!