Jerry Hill speaks in JSA meeting

Seal of the Senate of the State of Calif.

Seal of the Senate of the State of Calif.

Taran Sun, Staff Writer

The Carlmont Junior State of America (JSA) hosted Jerry Hill, California State Senator, on Oct. 16 to speak to students about how the world of politics presents an effective route for making a difference in their community.

Hill has an extensive background as a politician, having served as the mayor of San Mateo and as a member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors before being elected to the State Assembly in 2008. Hill exhibited his political experience as he talked to the Carlmont students, explaining his views on present day issues and the importance of being involved in political events.

Hill said that his main goal was to “share how important it is have good people elected who are really responsible and care about people in the community.”

Hill went on to illustrate how important it is to have people who care about public life engaged in politics. “If one of your friends passed out right now, you would pick up the phone and dial 911 […] saving their life. The key is that someone who was elected made the decision to put that system in place to save your life.”

Politics first beckoned to Hill when he was inspired by his high school civics teacher, who taught Hill about the system of government in the United States.

Years later Hill had the opportunity to serve as the president of his local Neighborhood Homeowners Association. An issue came up in San Mateo that needed attention, the construction of four 12-story buildings on one block, leading to a higher population density than that of San Francisco.

“I like making a difference. I like seeing things that are wrong and making them better.” In the opinion of Hill and his neighbors, these buildings were wrong. “We didn’t think that this was the direction San Mateo should go.” As a result, Hill collaborated with 12 others to write an initiative to change the law of the general plan of the city of San Mateo.

The initiative passed, and Hill was inspired by the change he was able to make: “We changed the direction of the city of San Mateo, and we did it as people, as citizens, through the initiative process.”

Hill used his story to convey the importance of political involvement, and to demonstrate that students could bring future political change with cooperation and commitment.

Hill explained to the students: “you can never do anything in government by yourself, you have to [work with other people] and have the drive to make change happen.”

James Xie, a member of JSA, advocated Hill’s advice to become politically involved: “Our goal is to raise political awareness and increase political activism.”

As the JSA meeting drew to a close, Hill offered a way for the students to become directly involved in politics by handing out state intern application forms to all who were interested.

An overwhelming majority of the members of JSA accepted the application forms, the road to political activism and a state internship only a small step away.