Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has a long history of connection with the CSUN community, joined Matadors online for a virtual Q&A session about civic engagement and today’s most pressing issues.

The Oct. 20 forum was part of CSUN Act Now, organized by the campus We the People team to encourage, develop, support and educate about civic engagement and participation in the democratic process, for the Nov. 3 presidential election and beyond.

The “Getting to Know Garcetti” event, which took place over Zoom, allowed Matadors the opportunity to submit questions for moderator Sahara Damon, Associated Students chair of Legislative Affairs, to pose to the mayor on their behalf.

Issues raised by the CSUN community included the challenges of working in local government, defunding the police, institutional and systemic racism, homelessness, education, voting and the climate crisis.

Speaking just a couple of weeks before the election, Garcetti emphasized that one of the best ways for an individual to help implement change is by voting.

“If there are certain things you don’t like about America right now, you can’t just run away,” Garcetti said. “What we do in terms of our leadership, with climate change, our economy and whether we decide to finally make it fair, racial justice and whether we say this was just a moment — or whether this was truly a movement to birth a true multiracial democracy — this literally is the most important election of our lives.”

Garcetti took the time to carefully and thoroughly address each issue of concern, but it was clear he has a particular passion for finding and creating solutions to climate change.

“I am devoting my life to this,” Garcetti said. “This is the fight of our lives. It’s too late to reverse what human beings have done to the climate, but it’s not too late to mitigate it.”

While explaining his efforts to lessen the severity of climate change, Garcetti referenced Climate Mayors, a bipartisan network of U.S. mayors that aims to lobby congressional leaders to advance a green and equitable recovery from the effects of climate change, which he founded in 2014. Garcetti has recruited more than 425 mayors across 48 states to join the movement. Every city that is a part of the organization has agreed to adhere to the Paris Agreement, a global accord that aims to combat climate change, and implement it at the local level.

Additionally, Garcetti has implemented L.A.’s Green New Deal, a sustainability plan that is determined to lead the world toward a low-carbon, green-energy future. The deal contains more than 100 action items, with deadlines ranging from one to five years. Its goal is to reach what Garcetti called the five zeros: zero-carbon transportation, zero-carbon buildings, zero-carbon power, zero-wastewater and zero-waste.

Garcetti, whose final mayoral term ends Dec. 10, 2022, expressed his gratitude for being able to serve in local government, calling it the honor of his life. Throughout his career, he said, he realized there are two things in life that can make people happy: the relationships they have and the difference that they make.

“We have to define ourselves by who we are,” Garcetti said. “You will always be a Matador, but long after you’re a CSUN student, long after the job that you had, [you won’t] define yourself by the titles. Go make a difference, and don’t worry who’s looking. Listen to people and be humble, but always lead with your heart and know that your happiness will come from what you give to others.”

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