At the age of 18, incoming UC Berkeley student Aasim Yahya is running to represent District 14 in the California State Assembly, against incumbent candidate Tim Grayson.
Yahya’s platform centers around five issues: improving education, reforming the state prison system, protecting basic human rights, preserving the environment and ensuring better communication between citizens and their leaders.
As part of his plan to improve education, Yahya hopes to create dual immersion programs for teaching foreign languages, ensure universal preschool and integrate technology into classes.
“It doesn’t matter where you stand on the political spectrum, a high quality and affordable education is a priority to the constituents of D14 and California,” Yahya said in an email. “A strong education is the root of our future progress.”
If elected, Yahya plans to take two gap years from UC Berkeley. He does emphasize, however, that he values having a higher education and will definitely be pursuing a college degree in the future.
Yahya believes he is capable of serving District 14 because of his previous leadership experiences with solving issues he found in his hometown of Concord. In addition to serving as the Associated Student Body president for the 2017-18 school year at Concord High School, Yahya has given back to his community through his engagement with nonprofits and other extracurriculars.
Yahya decided to run for state Assembly to serve as an opponent against the previously unopposed Grayson. According to Yahya, Grayson has been serving corporate interests instead of advancing the overall progressive agenda District 14 citizens believe in. Yahya noted that Grayson abstained from voting on progressive bills such as banning guns in California’s schools, limiting air pollution and better preparing California for future droughts.
Another important part of Yahya’s agenda is to ensure that California’s prison system continues to be a humane place for prisoners to stay. Yahya hopes to provide more therapy services for inmates suffering from mental health issues and add extracurricular programs targeted toward helping at-risk youth.
Making transparency a priority, if elected, Yahya promises to interact with all of District 14 biweekly, create a 100 percent response policy and encourage youths to vote by making registration to vote an optional part of their U.S. history and government classes.
As of now, Yahya has been running his campaign through Facebook and has no known endorsements. He received approximately 16 percent of the votes in the primary election — 13,231 votes to Grayson’s 67,272 votes.
“Winning for me doesn’t come in vote totals, but is about impacting young adults and students to realize the power of their voice,” Yahya said in an email. “I hope my campaign does this the right way.”