A regular at Democratic events for clubs and candidates since he was 13 years old, Andrew Taban’s known his whole life he’s wanted to help people. But he admits he didn’t know how.
“What drives me the most is that when you’re involved, you see firsthand how what you do benefits people while also benefiting people you might never see your entire life,” he said, “and I find that beautiful.”
Established on Dec. 20, the Santa Clarita Valley Democrats formed in response to those looking for that helpful path to become leaders and insert themselves in political procedure. The group, of which Taban was elected to chair its executive board, is focused on community service, opportunities for social connections, strategic election cycle-planning and candidate training, according to their website.
Clubs like the Democratic Alliance for Action (DAA), Santa Clarita’s longest operating Democratic club, established to encourage active participation in governance and foster Democratic Party ideals, and saw a new wave of participants join their ranks during the 2018 election. But out of that came a new path for younger Democratic activists looking to show young people how to get more involved in the party.
“It’s a little bit difficult to understand the whole party structure,” Taban said. “[The Santa Clarita Valley Democrats was] formed on trying to help build a bench and educate individuals on what’s going on in the party as well as trying to get more people involved and participate in their local democracy.”
The SCV Democrats also work alongside organizations in Simi Valley, the Antelope and San Fernando Valleys to educate communities about the party’s platform and structure, with the hope of in-person activities once things are safer in relation to the pandemic, according to Taban. While the 2022 primary election is around the corner and no candidates have announced their intentions to run, the group is especially focused on working to have Democrats elected to positions in those regions.
In the meantime, the SCV Democrats have also worked on various community service projects, having recently taken part in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Food Drive last month helping to collect food donations for the SCV Food Pantry. Upcoming events have yet to be planned.
“We’re reaching out to a couple of our local nonprofits, school districts, and other communities to see what they may need and how we might be able to help them,” Taban said. “We have a few coming up soon.”
As of this writing, the group has approximately 135 members with a diverse mix of younger and older adults, as well as seniors. Other members of the newly elected executive board include vice-chair Jackie Thomas and board members Gina Kaufman, Kat Walker, Mai Nguyen Do, Rachelle Lyman and Brett Haddock (Do was editor-in-chief of The SCV Proclaimer in 2018). Taban and the rest of the board are continuing to work towards expanding their numbers, mostly through social media and word of mouth. As Taban put it, “There hasn’t been any major recruitment events yet because of COVID-19, but of course in the future when it’s safer to meet in person we do hope to have more recruitment efforts with our members and really get back into the swing of things.”
“What really drives membership is people who want to see positive change in our community and it’s clear [Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita)] doesn’t have any plans to represent our community but really just go with party lines,” Taban noted. “We’ve been pretty vocal about what we would like to see and we want to see, what makes our democracy great and thriving, and it’s pretty clear he doesn’t really have an interest in listening to our constituents or our organization.”
Looking ahead, Taban and the board are focused on building a bridge between the organization and Santa Clarita Valley residents.
“One of my main goals in my administration is that I want to make sure that we are always here for the community,” said Taban. “Politics should be about how to better the lives of your regions and its citizens and at the end of the day, our main goal is to make sure the lives here are left better for those in our community and that we’re here to serve them.”
Those who are interested in becoming a member can visit their website to sign up for updates as well as find information on how to contribute. For any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay up to date on news from the SCV Democrats by following their social media, including Facebook and finding their handle @scvdems on Twitter and Instagram.