Generation Z has officially entered California politics. Born after 1996, these young Californians are voting, as well as running -- and winning -- elected office. In California, voter registrations for Gen Z in California have nearly tripled since 2016 — from more than 800,000 to over 2.4 million
Last fall saw the first Gen Z legislator elected, Alex Lee. It also saw at least eight city officials win -- and abnormally high number of young 20-somethings in any election cycle. California Battleground spoke to several of these newly elected Gen Zers, including Alexis Garcia-Arrazola of Seaside, Anthony Rocha of Salinas, Raul Ureña of Calexico and Alex Walker-Griffin of Hercules. The first three of these we spoke together and are releasing as the first in a few installments of conversations with this new generation. Its a fascinating discussion with very detail oriented officials with pretty specific plans of the changes they'd like to see now that they're holding office. Some context around Gen Z. The eldest among this cohort would have been 4 years old when 9/11 struck. They were 11 when Barrack Obama was first elected President, and saw the Great Recession hit shortly thereafter. Most Gen Zers are younger than Google. They were probably in elementary school when Facebook went online. One of the first things that stands out in the conversation is the deep and granular focus on policy issues such as housing, land use, immigration and others. There was also discussion of representing historically underrepresented communities in their City. All of the Gen Z officials in our tracking are young people of color, and several noted the importance of language and the availability of bilingual materials and outreach to communities that haven't had a voice in the local politics.