Newlywed Power Duo: Isabel and Adam Schwartz, Elect Good People’s First Ever Voting Friends Pair, Championing Equity and Affordable Housing in Torrance!
Isabel and Adam Schwartz are a newlywed couple based out of Torrance, California! They are Elect Good People’s first ever voting friends pair! Both of them are extremely active within their local government and communities, working to promote equity, inclusion, and better quality of life in Torrance and beyond. Adam has a unique connection to his community because of his great grandfather who settled in Torrance when it was a brand new town over 100 years ago! Along with his deep family roots in Torrance, Adam has a love for the people in his community and the awesome historic downtown area. He also mentioned that being close to the beach is a great plus, especially since Torrance is one of the last affordable areas near the coast in California. Isabel and Adam enjoy being a part of their Torrance community and are putting in the work to make it a better place!
When we asked Isabel and Adam about the most pressing concerns in their minds, Isabel spoke up on a very important topic. She mentioned how the lack of affordable housing is beginning to affect everyone across the country. With the price of living rising steadily and rapidly, it’s becoming harder and harder to have a stable, safe, and clean home for many people. We learned that Isabel used to live in Santa Monica where 60% of her income was going into rent. She noticed neighbors around her living in rent controlled apartments were paying a fraction of what she was paying for a nearly identical unit; she knew that many people would be unable to afford these artificially inflated rents. She expressed her sadness at seeing her neighbors today in the same position, worrying about affording rent— she doesn’t want to see people that she loves having to leave their homes. She points out that creating laws where a certain percentage of new construction needs to be affordable would help so many people find a safe home for themselves and their families. She knows that there are practical solutions to these issues and that we just need the right leaders to make it happen.
Adam made a powerful point as well on the negative effects of the rising cost of living. He says that unaffordable housing leads to desperation which can lead to people in unsafe living situations and of course, homelessness. He points out that we need to look towards the upstream effects of poverty and get to the root of the issue instead of watching more and more people lose their homes. He believes in a world where hard work pays off and leads to success and security. While he can acknowledge that we do not currently live in that reality, he is hopeful that we can get there.
Isabel and Adam are big proponents of encouraging voter turnout and government engagement by the people. They want to ensure that local governments are truly working for the people in their communities. This way, communities will be protected from things like the 2015 refinery explosion in Torrance that almost polluted the entire town with toxic and deadly chemicals. Adam believes that communities can find better representation if they pay more attention to down-ballot races. He tries to tell everyone that down-ballot candidates affect their day to day lives much more than any congressperson would. “Low voter turnout in small elections can be devastating,” says Adam. He points to the example of the current Torrance mayor, George Chen, who was recently elected and has since refused to acknowledge pride month this past June. Isabel and Adam took a stand against Chen and drafted their own Pride Proclamation, which was read publicly at the City Council. Thousands of residents missed out on a pride parade or any sort of celebration because so much effort and energy was used to just have the month be publicly acknowledged. This is why it is so important that we vote for leaders who will represent the best interest of the people, rather than their own interests and beliefs. Who knows what could have happened if more people, especially young people, voted in this mayoral election.
Aside from advocating for his community members, Adam and Isabel would love to see small businesses thrive in Torrance. They say that these businesses are the lifeblood of their community. Instead of leadership focusing on getting big corporations to move in, they should focus on creating a thriving, walkable community where you can shop at stores owned by neighbors and support each other. Isabel added that public transit would greatly benefit many communities. Traffic in California is hard and not everyone has the time and resources to drive a car and spend hours in traffic. She cites things like the metro as being the next step for these communities that need better forms of transportation.
Progress towards extending the Metro C Line to Torrance is being obstructed by two local politicians, Councilmembers Aurelio Mattucci and Jon Kaji, who want to cancel the project based on concerns about crime and homelessness. Torrance Transit Planning Manager David Mach, meanwhile, told the Daily Breeze the project would cut 2,370 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, eliminate more than 17 million vehicle travel miles per year, support 65,000 jobs by 2042 and provide commuters easier access to LAX and Downtown Los Angeles. It remains to be seen how Torrance’s decision will ultimately affect Metro’s final determination on the project.
What Adam wants people to know the most is that they need to pay more attention to down-ballot races. He acknowledges that most people don’t have the time or bandwidth to look into candidates when they can’t even meet their own basic needs. That’s why it’s so important to work to improve the lives of the people so that they can be involved in local government. It can be hard to know which candidates are truly there for the right reasons or not, and not everyone can tell the difference. Adam’s hope is that people will be able to be familiar with their local representatives and feel comfortable having conversations with these people about their needs and concerns. He says that far too many times, representatives will brush people off which can discourage people from involving themselves. Adam says that by not voting, you’re giving your vote away to someone who may not represent your interests at all. He urges voters to find the candidates that works best for them, even if they dont 100% agree with them. It’s better to vote for someone who you believe in a little than not at all.
When we spoke to Adam and Isabel, we found out that they are huge road trippers and recently went on a 22,000 mile road trip around North America. Their journey took them all the way up to Alaska, then across Newfoundland, then down to Key West and along the U.S. Mexico border! Aside from the beautiful scenery, Isabel says that they gained a stronger understanding of the communities within different parts of North America and the world around them as a whole. Isabel pointed out that we often see news stories of far away places but when you actually see these communities up close, you see the different types of cultures and belief systems and what people stand for. There are also many similarities between these communities. She said that even between the U.S. and Canada, there is a gradient rather than a clear distinction between two countries– maybe we are all much more connected than we realize!
Adam and Isabel hold each other accountable to vote and encourage each other to stay informed and involved in the local government and decisions that affect their lives. That’s what voting friends are for!