The Quaker Campus met with Dr. Irella Perez, who is running for the District 2 Whittier City Council seat in the upcoming election on April 10.
Irella Perez attended Pasadena City College, Cal State Long Beach, and earned her doctorate in Education and Leadership from the University of Southern California. “Education changed my life. I was born and raised in Nicaragua, and I am an American of Latin and Chinese heritage,” said Perez. “I came to America when I was 15, and I didn’t speak a word of English. My mom said she would not leave me pearls and diamonds, but she would leave me a good education.”
Education has remained a driving force in Perez’s career. Since graduating college, Perez has been employed as a teacher, curriculum specialist, counselor, administrator, and an adjunct professor at Argosy University. Currently, Perez consults and coaches principals and advocates for children’s rights. “As a school board member, I oversee the 6,000 children in our community to make sure that they are not only growing academically and intellectually, but [in] mind, soul, and body as well,” said Perez.
Perez is running for city council because she feels it is time for a change in the city’s government. “I, like many other Whittierites, am grateful of all of the leaders before us, but we need new leadership,” said Perez. “When we have government that is here for too long, the status quo breeds conformity. It sends a really bad message to our youths, and that is, no matter how much you give, want, or love your city, you will never be good enough to be a leader here in your city because you have to wait your turn.” The city of Whittier has never had a Latina in its government, and Perez hopes to change that.
Like all the other candidates, Perez stresses the importance of voting. “Whittier has extremely low voter turnout,” said Perez. “Walking door to door, I have reconfirmed what I knew, that people are upset, they feel powerless . . . They feel disengaged and unencouraged.”
Perez is open to listening to suggestions from Whittier citizens regarding what legislation should be pushed. “Be a part of the movement . . . the sky’s the limit of the things we can do,” said Perez. “It’s for us to come up with all the ideas that are exciting to all different walks of life.”
Perez is also running as an act of environmental activism. “I am not for oil drilling in our hills,” said Perez. “I am for the environment, and I am concerned of the health [effects] that the current oils drills have in our neighborhoods.” Perez is opposed to building more motels and condominiums in Whittier. She believes that this will increase Whittier’s population within a small area. She thinks that this kind of constricted expansion would lead to greater traffic, creating a threat to public safety. “Crime in Whittier has gone up, and putting the public safety at risk to increase the pockets of developers is not acceptable,” said Perez. To ensure public safety, she does not believe the answer is in hiring more police officers, but better equipping the current ones. “We need to provide our officers with the right equipment and the right resources, not only for them to be protected, but also so that they can protect us.”
In order to incorporate the College with the city of Whittier, Perez is looking to hear from students on how the atmosphere of the city could be improved for the best college experience. “I would like to work together with college students and have focus groups as to what they would like to see in their college town,” said Perez. Most of Perez’s intentions on working with the college are based on revitalizing the Uptown area by improving and adding shops and restaurants for entertainment. “Let’s make some history here in Whittier!” said Perez.
Perez would like to publish her cell phone number and website for students to contact her with any questions or concerns. Call or text at (562) 556-8268 or visit www.drirellaperez.com.