Pali Senior Reflects on Experience in State Assembly Race


Zennon Ulyate-Crow

Minnie Jellinek, Staff Writer

Eighteen-year-old Pali senior Zennon Ulyate-Crow lost his bid to become the youngest  California Democratic Party Assembly District Delegate (ADD), party officials announced today.  

Still the youngest candidate to ever run for the position, Ulyate-Crow said the loss won’t stop him from possibly participating in politics in the future.

“I went into this not really expecting much out of it,” he said. “It’s still just a good experience to have done it anyways… I’m not devastated by it at all. I feel like I played my role. I did my part.”

Ulyate-Crow’s interest in politics led him to serve as sophomore class president at Pali. Two years later, he turned his attention to local politics and has already developed a slate of positions.

“I plan to shape the party’s platform by introducing both a statewide Green New Deal and an anti-sprawl resolution,” he told The Topanga New Times in a Jan. 1 article. “By bringing together the values of nature and [the] determination this community instilled in me, I hope to effect substantial change in the upper levels of party politics.”

The state’s Democratic party elects delegates to conduct party business, including party platform positions, endorsing candidates and overseeing ballot proposition positions. Ulyate-Crow ran to represent Los Angeles’ 50th district, which includes Santa Monica Mountain areas in Topanga, Pacific Palisades and Malibu. 

He has tallied many volunteer hours during the last two years, working with Abundant Housing Los Angeles, an affordable housing organization. He currently serves on the nonprofit organization’s policy committee. 

“Being there and watching how grassroots organizations can actually have a huge difference at a policy level definitely informs how I approach things and a lot of my policy stances,” Ulyate-Crow explained.

He says his politics are influenced by his 2019 summer internship for LA Metro, as well as his work for California Yes In My Backyard (CAYIMBY) — a statewide housing advocacy organization — and his internship with State Senator Henry Stern. As part of the CAYIMBY Rapid Response Team, Ulyate-Crow was given the chance to lobby Sacramento politicians last year. 

But it was when he volunteered to help Sarah Kate Levy in her unsuccessful run for Los Angeles City Council that he considered running for assembly himself. 

“I talked with all these people and I was just… really interested in getting involved in something,” he said. “This election has a huge consequence in California politics, but barely anybody ever participates in it. So [Levy] basically turned me on to the idea and I just decided, why not?”

Ulyate-Crow says his political focuses are global warming, housing and transportation. 

As a self-proclaimed “Topanga tree man,” he said the climate crisis hits close to home. “Transportation and housing,” with their interlinked climate effects, “are two of the biggest expenses for households in the United States,” he added. “I feel like there’s not enough of an alarm going [off] right now, that if we don’t do anything about this we will die.”

While Ulyate-Crow acknowledges that his youth and lack of political experience made his campaign journey more difficult, he sees his age as an advantage in a party dominated by older voices. 

“The only way that the dynamic of the party works is if you have that balance between the next generation and the current generation,” he said. “Being a younger voice, it definitely comes with a whole different host of perspectives on a whole different host of issues that a lot of older people… don’t appreciate.

“As someone who will be directly affected by the climate,” he continued, “running against people who won’t be directly affected by the climate, it’s a lot more of an issue personally for me than it is for a lot of other people.”

Ulyate-Crow said friends and family were all supportive of his campaign. After announcing his candidacy via an Instagram post and campaign video on Jan. 1, Ulyate-Crow heard from many friends, old and new, receptive to the idea of supporting a fresh voice in the Democratic party. 

So, what’s next for the youngest ADD candidate in California Democratic party history?

“Obviously I’d like to stay in the political realm because I found this to be my calling and it’s really what I’m interested in doing,” Ulyate-Crow said. “But I have no idea where it’s going to take me… because who knows?”