Alexandra Rivasplata ’22
March 5, 2020
Many Claremont College students have been lucky to know or be taught by Dr. Vanessa Tyson. A politics and policy professor known for her classes, including Women and Public Policy and Black Americans and the Political System, Tyson is extremely busy and accomplished.
Tyson has been featured in US News and World Report, the Sacramento Bee, NPR, The Huffington Post and this past year, Tyson was conducting research at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the behavioral sciences. This research was regarding politics and policies surrounding sexual violence against women and children.
Now, Professor Tyson is taking on a new challenge, and using her knowledge of the political sphere on the campaign trail as she runs for State Assembly in her home of Whittier, California (57th district). The 57th district is currently held by democrat Ian Calderon, who announced he was not seeking reelection citing a desire to spend more time with his wife and children. Tyson represents a formidable challenge, as an expert on sexual violence, policy formation, race, gender, environment, and social justice with an extensive background in both US and California politics.
Tyson’s campaign website concisely outlays her platform regarding education, housing, and the environment. She is a first-generation college graduate and credits her mother with stressing the importance of education throughout her childhood. This is demonstrated in Tyson’s emphasis on educational investment. She states that the primary and secondary educational systems within California need more attention in order to ensure that K-12 students have the resources needed to increase their intellectual growth. Moreover, Tyson emphasizes the importance of having public universities such as the UC and CSU campuses financially accessible. Within her housing plans, Tyson aims to address the lack of affordable housing, rapidly rising homelessness rates, and a declining middle class. As a longtime environmentalist, Tyson also plans on passing legislation that protects the Whittier Hills and resources for CALFIRE as well as supporting a green economy. In fact, Sunrise Claremont Colleges, an environmentalist action group on campus has also recently endorsed Tyson’s campaign.
The largest hurdle in her campaign has been fundraising, “campaigns cost A LOT, and putting together a strong campaign team is tougher than it looks,” Tyson said. Despite this, Tyson is very excited to be running for office because of, “meeting so many people/constituents in the district. It’s a great excuse to get out and meet people through canvassing. I really love meeting new people and talking about education, environmental issues, and affordable housing in Southern California,” says Tyson.
If students across the 7Cs wish to get involved, the campaign always “needs lots of volunteers who are willing to come to the Assembly District to canvass on weekends and phonebank from Claremont throughout the week,” according to Tyson. “[Students] can sign up to volunteer on my website!”
In spite of the challenges of campaigning, Tyson remains optimistic. As she said in her interview with Ms Magazine, “Every step along the way, I’ve been beating the odds.”
Image Credit: PressFrom