Jonathan Ahmadi, former Santa Clarita City Council candidate and former senior district representative for Rep. Katie Hill, announced the launch of his campaign to run for California Assembly District 38 in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections on Thursday.
“The communities of the Santa Clarita and Simi Valleys are at a crossroads,” Ahmadi said in a prepared statement upon announcing his intent to run. “The challenges posed by the homelessness crisis and the skyrocketing cost of housing are daunting, and we must face them while trying to recover from the pandemic that brought so much suffering and economic pain to so many working families. Without smart and equitable solutions to these problems, we risk losing that which makes our home so special – the hope and possibility of raising a family and building a future in an affordable, safe community; a dream that should be within reach for every Californian.”
Ahmadi shared with The Proclaimer what he described to be the limited ability for incumbent Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares (R-Santa Clarita) to advance bills in the state legislature or bring resources back to the community, in comparison to former assemblywoman Christy Smith, who brought around $500,000 for Bella Vida and $700,000 for the Simi Valley Community Center.
“I think it’s incumbent upon elected officials to let their constituents know how they feel about issues by putting their vote, by standing up, by using their voice and saying, ‘Yes, I believe in this policy, this resolution’ or ‘No, I don’t,’” he said. “What we’ve seen time and time again is that Suzette will choose to – rather than vote no on something that would be controversial, she just doesn’t show up for a vote…you live in a supermajority Democratic-represented state in our legislature. Suzette is very limited in the types of things she is able to do in Sacramento.”
Ahmadi said he’s not someone to shrink away from a vote, referring to the current assembly member as a “lame duck…in terms of her availability to advance bills or to bring resources back.”
Ahmadi moved to southern California from northern California in 2001, and lives in Santa Clarita with his wife, whom he married two years ago. His father, an educator, was an immigrant from Iran in the 1970s and his mother, a registered nurse, grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. Ahmadi went to UCLA for aeronautical engineering and graduated in 2005, but has been working in a variety of fields since – including engineering, research, entertainment and currently healthcare. Ahmadi notes how lucky he was to access the American Dream, which he said is getting further and further away from working class families.
Like many Americans, the 2016 election changed Ahmadi. He said he “never envisioned a future in politics.” Former president Donald Trump’s win in 2016 “changed everything,” Ahmadi said, because “there was nothing about him that represented [Ahmadi’s] values or the things [he] loves about [his] country.”
This caused Ahmadi to become more active in politics and in the community, noting his involvement in the Santa Clarita Valley and Simi Valley Democrat groups.
Ahmadi said he believes the assembly district deserves leadership in Sacramento that reflects and fights for constituents’ values. Among the issues Ahmadi is advocating for include affordable housing, putting working families first, improving public education, keeping the community safe from gun violence, improving access to healthcare and addressing climate change.
On the topic of affordable housing, Ahmadi notes how this issue is the root cause of other issues that our community is dealing with – including first time-home ownership, housing for seniors, and homelessness.
Ahmadi also addressed the gradually longer fire seasons in the community and the public safety power shut-offs that affect those connected to wells.
“That’s just not a sustainable situation, so we definitely need to be addressing climate change,” said Ahmadi, who is also a member of SCV Sierra Club.
Among the several organizations Ahmadi has been heavily involved in with the community, he is currently vice president of the Santa Clarita Veteran Services Collaborative, which serves the more than 10,000 veterans in SCV. As a member of the SCV Homelessness Task Force in the Affordable Housing Committee, he works to assist individuals experiencing homelessness, explores the different solutions that could be used, and collaborates with others to develop a safe-parking program for those sleeping in their cars.
“This would be a program that would make all of us safer, not just those who are experiencing homelessness, but everyone in the community,” he argued.
Ahmadi is also a co-lead for the Moms Demand Action’s Be Smart Campaign, where he works with outreach and education on safe gun ownership, especially child gun-related mortality. He is cofounder of the Santa Clarita Independent Districting Committee, which advocates for a fair, representative district map, so that “voters get to choose their representatives” instead of the other way round, he said.
As a member of Next SCV, Ahmadi has helped to promote the next generation of valley business leaders by providing opportunities for development, civic engagement and philanthropic involvement of its members. Additionally, he and his wife are dedicated volunteers at the Bella Vida Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center.
On the topic of COVID-19, Ahmadi said he struggles to fully comprehend the amount of pain, suffering and death across the country.
“COVID-19 was one of those issues that is heartbreaking…because you think of the amount of pain and suffering and death that people experienced…across the country and, in my mind, did so unnecessarily because of the lack of leadership from the federal government and namely Trump and those who supported him and supported his claim that it was a hoax,” Ahmadi said.
Beyond the death toll, there is the social and emotional impact of not getting to see loved ones for a prolonged period of time, Ahmadi added.
“We’re social creatures,” he continued. Ahmadi’s brother and sister-in-law gave birth to a son three months ago. Before he was born, his mother was unable to get vaccinated while she was pregnant. Ahmadi still has not met his nephew due to the pandemic.
“Had we been more unified,” Ahmadi emphasized, “we could’ve gotten this virus under control.”
With his eyes on the race, Ahmadi plans on continuing to listen to the science to protect his supporters and volunteers who are looking to engage with the campaign. He wants to be able to meet voters and share the message, “in peoples’ living rooms and backyards,” having the real conversations and to exchange ideas to understand solutions to challenges they’re facing.
Ahmadi joins the race with another Democratic competitor for Assemblywoman Valladares’ seat, advocate and Chatsworth resident Pilar Schiavo (Editor’s note: Our interview with Schiavo will be coming soon).
Those interested in learning more about Ahmadi and his campaign can go to his website at https://ahmadiforassembly.com.
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