As CMC Government Professor Zachary Courser ’99 watched the recent election unfold, he was deeply frustrated with the national political climate. His discontent this fall pushed him to run for Claremont City Council, hoping to be part of a larger wave of positive local political engagement to counteract the negativity on the national stage.
Courser, who is also the Research Director of the Dreier Roundtable at CMC, is one of eight candidates in the upcoming Claremont City Council election. He hopes to deepen his commitment to politics by using his background in political science and former experience on the Claremont Traffic and Transportation Commission to become a “hands-on” city councilperson.
In August 2015, Courser joined the Claremont Traffic and Transportation Commission, where he focused on alleviating the problem of train noise in southern Claremont. As the only candidate for the council member spot who has served in city commissions, he says that his exposure to the procedures of the City Hall and to Californian local politics will be valuable. Courser also views his understanding of the Claremont Colleges as another competitive advantage, recognizing the potential for increased communication between the city and the Colleges.
Courser’s deep frustration with the recent presidential election pushed him to run for city council. “I saw a lot of things that I felt had gone wrong with our politics at the national level—a kind of distrust, delegitimization, and intransigent polarization—where debate, deliberation, and even a space for policymaking and discussion didn’t seem to exist,” he said.
In order to change the national political situation, Courser found that the best place to start was in his own community. “Without a firm foundation of competent citizenry, how can we expect people to make decisions about far-reaching national issues?” Courser asked, noting the value in exposure to one’s community and engagement with local politics.
His platform, which he describes as “a hands-on approach for Claremont,” seeks to affect policy and contribute to the city by interacting with council staff, asking a lot of questions, and practicing clear communication. One issue he hopes to address is reducing crime. According to the 2015 FBI Crime Statistics, Claremont experiences higher levels of thefts, burglaries, and property crime than other Foothill communities such as La Verne and San Dimas. Courser supports a multilateral and hands-on solution, with ideas ranging from better community policing efforts to working with other communities to incorporate their policing strategies.
At a recent council meeting regarding sanctuary cities, Courser was glad to see a lot of students from the 5Cs in attendance. He encourages students to continue to be involved, learn about how politics affects people at the local level, and to give back to the community. “If students are interested in getting involved, or if they’d like to learn more about campaigning, or if they care about issues in this community, I could use all the help I can get,” he said.
In the next month, Courser will continue his campaign and attend fora to speak to the community about issues that he cares about. Absentee ballots will be mailed Feb. 6, and elections will be held March 7.
Editor’s Note: The Forum does not endorse any candidate.