When Bijan Mohseni received word that the Chapman student body didn’t choose him as its president, he knew his career in college politics would soon be over. He realized a career in city government, however, could be just beginning.
Mohseni, a junior political science major, is the youngest candidate by 30 years running for a seat on Cypress City Council this year. The 20-year-old was raised in Cypress and is running for council to bring forth what he sees as necessary changes in his city, such as lowering the unemployment rate by creating local jobs.
Voters will choose between Mohseni and three other potential candidates, Jay Sondhi, Rob Johnson and Mariellen Yarc on Nov. 6.
“I fit in with the older people. I don’t see it as a barrier, it’s been fun,” Mohseni said. “I wanted to wet my feet in politics.”
Mohseni ran for Student Government Association (SGA) president in March, but lost to Chris Joondeph, a senior philosophy major. Mohseni said city government is a different arena.
“When it comes to school politics, it’s about how many people you can get. It’s more of a popularity type thing,” he said. “That doesn’t work in the real world. I have been able to focus on issues now to gain votes.”
Mohseni’s campaign focuses on four major issues. He plans keep taxes the same, welcome commercial development within the city, foster community involvement with events such as “a taste with Cypress” and enforce environmental sustainability by offering ways for businesses to become Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.
Johnson, a former police officer, said each person running appeals to a different demographic.
“I think it’s great for him to be getting involved,” he said. “If this was a college town, people would probably see him in a new light.”
Yarc, who has worked as a family law attorney for 26 years, said Mohseni’s age keeps him from being serious competition.
“[Mohseni] is a very young guy, he’s cute,” Yarc said. “But it’s an aging population.”
Mohseni said age is irrelevant in a campaign.
“A lot of young people are becoming successful a lot faster,” he said. “Young people today have a lot more to offer. Their vitality is important.”
Mohseni said he has not only cut down on his social life in order to campaign, but has also struggled with the associated costs.
“You need money to run a campaign. Doesn’t matter how much, but without money you can’t do anything,” Mohseni said. “I felt shackled.”
Mohseni recently raised $800 through personal phone calls to members of the community to jump-start his campaign.
“One of the candidates donated $12,000 to himself, another raised $6,500 and another raised $5,500,” Mohseni said. “I don’t think I need that much money. It’s about strategy.”
Mohseni’s mother, Coriena, said her son’s inquisitive nature motivates him to pursue his political endeavors.
“Since the day I remember that he could speak, he’s always had his mind set on what he wants to do,” Coriena Mohseni said. “If he doesn’t know something, he’ll ask about and then learn about it.”
Coriena Mohseni said her son is a deserving candidate in the election because he understands both his own generation and older ones.
“Sometimes older candidates have their minds set for older generations,” Coriena Mohseni said. “He’s 20, but he could pass as 40. He’s very intelligent.”