Courtesy of @a_ayra via Instagram

Aram Ayra, a UCR alumni from the class of 2018 and former ASUCR president, is running for Riverside City Council Ward 2.

As a political science student at UCR, Ayra rose from being a CHASS senator to ASUCR president, addressing matters of oversight on police officers, sexual harassment and helped facilitate communication between UCR and the city of Riverside. Since graduating, Ayra has worked in Riverside as commissioner of the Riverside City Human Relations Commission, he became the youngest director of the UCR Alumni Association Board of Directors and also founded the Riverside Mutual Aid Network with John Staff. The organization helps bring fresh produce to the Riverside community. During the pandemic, the organization created 26 food pantries across the city with funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. 

Originally from Los Angeles, Ayra revealed in an interview with The Highlander that he has had a passion for the community and has demonstrated his commitment to serve it for the past five years. “I got really involved with both campus and city during my time as a student. I had a chance to see how this community operates, connected with folks who worked at the city and overtime I found myself really falling in love with Riverside, its potential, its people, its culture and the determined ‘do it yourself, can do spirit’ that it has here.”

Ayra’s platform, a grassroots funded campaign with no corporate or pact donations, runs on the message “reform, rebuild, and reinvest.” If elected, his immediate action will be to tackle the COVID-19 crisis. At the time of publication, Riverside County has seen 105.4 new cases per day per 100 thousand cases. Ayra stated that he will work to expand the access to testing and accelerate the distribution of the vaccine. In addition, he will provide economic help to local businesses and will implement a corresponding plan for the city to prepare for future impacts. Furthemore, Ayra will try to pass a “Hero Pay” act, aimed to provide a temporary pay raise towards COVID-19 essential workers including grocery store workers and front line workers. 

As for his long term goal, Ayra will try to address the current budget crisis, homelessness in the city and establishing equitable internet access, which will help even out inequality regarding access to jobs and schools. In addition, Ayra will try to implement a term limit for all city officials. “It’s important to encourage new leadership all the time and actually invest in our communities to create people willing to take on these positions rather than hold on to power forever,” stated Ayra. 

As to how he will try to tackle the national problems of racial tensions and political polarization at the local level, Ayra stated that he will try to have an open door policy and work closely with the Riverside City Human Relations Commission. If elected into office, Ayra hopes to implement a trauma center training for all city officials, revitalize programs that once addressed these current issues, create partnerships with high schools and establish diversity days.

Elections for Ward 2 residents will be held on June 8, 2021.