By Mary O’KEEFE
Assemblymember Anthony Portantino visited Mountain Avenue Elementary School on Monday to speak with fourth, fifth and sixth graders.
Portantino, who is not seeking re-election for another term for the state assembly, spoke about how he got into politics, what he likes about it and how important it was for the students to understand how their government works.
The assembly was on the Monday before Tuesday’s election so Portantino took the opportunity to speak about democracy and the power of the vote. He told the students that they have an opportunity to choose representatives that share their values, opinions and thoughts.
“That’s what is very cool about [voting]. You have a direct opportunity to influence what we (legislators) do,” he said. “If I did write a law to make the school year longer and the day go longer, our parents can say, ‘I like that. I am going to give him [the legislator] more time’ or ‘I don’t like that. I am going to get rid of that guy.’ That is what the process that happens [Nov. 6] is all about.”
He also talked to the students about how bills are created. He spoke of what he felt was one of the most important pieces of legislation he had passed.
“I helped pass a bill because a young person up the street from my house was the first to get an experimental treatment for cancer when he was young and it helped cure him of his leukemia, “ he said.
He added that now that treatment will be able to help others with leukemia.
“That was a bill inspired by a neighborhood child and now it is a law,” he said.
Portantino started as a councilmember on the La Cañada Flintridge City Council and then went on to Sacramento.
Students had an opportunity to ask questions ranging from where Portantino grew up (New Jersey) to whether he liked his job.
“I love my job,” Portantino told the students.
Mountain Avenue student body President Francesca Nolte, a sixth grader, and Vice President Walker Baggett, a fifth grader, led the discussion with the assemblymember.
“I thought it was neat about how bills are [created],” Nolte said.
Baggett said he liked Portantino’s story about the neighbor with leukemia and how a law now helps others.