Mayor Campbell Visits YLHS


Shifa Mirza (11)

Students gathered in Mr. Walls’s room on Tuesday to listen to Yorba Linda’s mayor.

Caitlyn Truong, Editor

On Tuesday, May 27, Yorba Linda High School had the honor and privilege of a visit from Yorba Linda‘s mayor, Tara Campbell. The visit was hosted by Political and Social Activism Club on campus which is presided by Anna Zhang (10) and Sarah Chen (11) along with board members Kobi Khong (11), Shifa Mirza (11), Alice Ding (11), Janet Han (11), Ahmed Suri (11), and Will Fixa (11).


Over forty students met in Mr. Walls (Staff)‘s room to hear Mayor Campbell discuss her political career and urge high school students to become involved in the community. Mayor Campbell began with an introduction about her path to bureaucracy; she attended Rosary and pursued a degree in broadcast journalism at USC. She was an athlete and enjoys playing basketball and volleyball. At only 25 years old, Mayor Campbell is also notable for being the youngest mayor in the United States. When this was met with gasps from students, she smiled and stated, “I hope that inspires you guys…it doesn‘t matter what age you are, you can be giving back to your community…you don’t have to wait until you’re 18 to vote to really get involved in your community.”


She discusses her path to bureaucracy next, admitting that her family “was not political at all; in fact, I jokingly say that I grew up with my dad yelling at the politicians on the TV.” Mayor Campbell was exposed to the complex politics of Washington, D.C. during an internship in 2013 with a bipartisan, nonprofit organization named “No Labels” which made efforts to foster cooperation among members of Congress. While in D.C., she experienced not only the divisive politics of the nation, but also had the opportunity to go door-to-door to lobby Congressmen.


If I wanted to see a change, I was going to have to be part of that change.”

— Mayor Tara Campbell

After the government shut down, Mayor Campbell returned to Yorba Linda, which was in the midst of a recall, or the process to remove an official from office. The combination of her father‘s disappointment with politicians on TV, the government shut down, and the gridlock in her hometown eventually pushed Mayor Campbell to pursue political science as a major at USC, where she earned her masters in public administration while working full time for a state assembly member and applying to be on the Parks and Recreation commission. She recalls realizing, “If I wanted to see a change, I was going to have to be part of that change.”


While on discussing her work on the Parks and Recreation commission, it is clear to see that Mayor Campbell feels the most pride in digitizing the government of Yorba Linda. She pushed for technology, and online forms and overall increased efficiency as well as an easily-navigable city website are a result of her efforts.


Mayor Campbell‘s success on the Parks and Recreation commission encouraged her to run for city council, where she was elected with the fourth-highest amount of votes in the city‘s history at only 23 years old at the time. Two years later, she was unanimously voted to be the mayor of Yorba Linda by her other city council members. “It‘s very humbling to know you have the faith of your community to really lead the city…It‘s been an incredible experience,” she shares. Students then had the opportunity to ask her questions.


Sarah Chen (11): How can we, as high schoolers, get more involved with our community?

Great question…You guys are the only ones that are actually using these facilities, and you know what’s going to be important for the future…The local level is really what impacts your daily life. It’s the police officers, it’s the firefighters, it’s the parks, it’s the library, it’s the potholes on your street. I wanted to provide something for Yorba Linda’s next generation to be able to learn about local government but also have hands-on experience about how they can make a difference now. And so, I created the Young Civic Leaders Academy…Each week we go over a different aspect of city government. So, this past session, the first week, was just an overview of the city government, the budget…another week we visited businesses in the area…Another week was going over parks and planning, where we planned adventure playground, and those students, their advice and their thoughts on how adventure playground should be planned, were actually incorporated into the planning of it…Each week we went over something different.


Chris Li (11): Are you considering, maybe, going into national politics? Maybe for running on a seat on the Senate?

I’ve been mayor [for] five months, so…(laughter) He’s like, go for it! No, if I can still make a difference, right, even when I was running for city council, I saw things that I could do, but I wanted to make sure that I was able to make a tangible difference, and I’m proud to say that we have…we’ve been able to make some major improvements along with some other things that really enforce economic development so that we’re bringing businesses in and retaining the businesses that we have…Now, I would like to run again for city council, because I think there’s more work to be done, so I’ll be up in 2020. Catch me in a few years. (laughter)


Mason Wagner (11): I don’t know if this is a county or district level question, but I was going to ask, in regards to ballot harvesting, I was wondering, how does the city of Yorba Linda ensure that’s not corrupt, or, you know, nothing bad happens in the process?

Ballot harvesting was legal for this past election…ballot harvesting is, you can fill out your ballot and I can take it for you and go drop it off in the mail or deliver it to the register of voters. That used to not be legal. But now I can go to you and you and you and collect your ballots and drop them off. 2018 was the first election where that was legal in the state of California, so it’s changing how people really vote, and how our whole system works. How our ballots are done are actually with the county registrar of voters…They’re the ones who ensure that ballot harvesting but also all the other processes which we do in our elections…everyone’s going to get mailed a ballot now…you could either go by mail or at the polls, so you would mark that on your registration. Now everyone’s going to get a ballot…they’ve increased the efficiency of the system now, so now it’s all electronic; before, if you went to the wrong polling place, it gives you what’s called a provisional ballot, and it was paper, and that’s why we didn’t figure out the winners of elections until two or three weeks after…So, a lot changing on our voting system. A lot.


Mayor Campbell‘s visit to Yorba Linda High School was an exciting opportunity for high school students interested in politics and community to gain insight on the political process and how determined individuals such as Mayor Campbell are able to make a difference in the city through commitment and passion. Shifa Mirza (11), who attended the visit, states, “I definitely learned a lot about our city that I hadn‘t known before.”


Thank you, Mayor Tara Campbell, for visiting our school! Those interested in her Young Civic Leaders Academy, which is open to any high school student, should email her at [email protected] for more information.