NorthStar: March

NorthStar: March

Northern California, JSA

Marching towards a grander Future


Nation at the Crossroads: Inauguration of Gen. George Washington*&imgdii=un-u0C_LriqUTM:&imgrc=Icgta85vsn9xsM:

Nation at the Crossroads: Inauguration of Gen. George Washington
Google Images

Springtime. It is a time of change, a celebration of the new. Tree leaves are turning green amongst the birds chirping away on the tree branches. Flowers are budding and blooming, revealing their authentic colors and  beautiful patterns. The world is exploding with color. Sun rays kiss the tops of the heads of the little ground hogs emerging from the earth’s crust. Big bears are awakening after a long hibernation. The air is so fresh, so clean, and as one inhales it, they can’t help but feel good. Springtime is like the JSA elections. Candidates and their marvelous ideas are budding and blooming. Newer JSAers are choosing to step out of their comfort zone and run for a position because they are so excited and passionate about JSA, they just cannot help it. Though there are so many different opinions and enough competition to go around, the JSA community feels closer than ever during these times. Like the springtime, the JSA elections are a welcoming of change and a fresh start. It is inspiring and it is electrifying.   


“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”  – John F. Kennedy




Jesse Kireyev


For the past few months, America has experienced a tumultuous relationship with its new President, Donald Trump, marred by images of millions protesting, his own party refusing to listen to him, and federal judges striking down executive orders passed down by him.


Largely forgotten in the whirlwind of outcry and media coverage is the legacies of the previous presidential candidates; those who ran in the general, and the former front runners in the primaries.


For some, their rhetoric is strong as ever. Others have receded into their former obscurity. Some have already begun planning on a future run, while others have dropped off the political face of the earth. These are their stories:




Despite winning the popular vote, on election night it became increasingly clear as the hours passed by that she was losing the Electoral college.  


Once the final results began to come in, and her fate was set in stone, she had no choice but to concede to Trump his victory to avoid taking the country through even more partisan bickering.


Tired of the campaign, she retired to her home in Chappaqua, in upstate New York, to rest. The election was largely seen as a coup de grace, the end of her career, but she has signaled that she may not be done yet.


In the months following she hasn’t stepped back from speaking out. At various events she has spoken out in favor of the Women’s Marches, praising the strength of women across America. She has spoken out against the immigration ban, pointing to figures such as Oscar de la Renta as examples of immigrants that have added to American society and culture.


Rumors have also swirled around her future: In January, publications such as the Washington Post and Politico circulated rumors that Clinton might run for Mayor of New York to replace the controversial Bill De Blasio, rumors she has never gone out of her way to deny.


In February, speculation surfaced that she might be planning another run for President. Critics have railed against the possibility. Meanwhile, newly elected DNC Chair Tom Perez didn’t rule out a 2020 Clinton run, saying that if she wanted to run she should.


While her future is up in the air, the fact remains that she is and will remain a controversial figure for a while to come. Nobody knows what direction she will take, but whatever it is it will be interesting.




Although he lost a brutal partisan fight against Hillary Clinton in the primary, Bernie Sanders didn’t stop speaking out.


After losing his Democratic Primary bid to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders proceeded to spend the next few months campaigning for her across America.


The day following her loss to Donald Trump, Sanders issued a statement condemning the current state of politics and government, stating “Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media. To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him.”


But, he made sure to clarify that “to the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”


Since inauguration, Sanders has consistently condemned policies of the Trump administration and the Republican Congress.


He’s continued to serve as a Senator in Vermont, and there has been talk of a possible 2020 run, with some observers speculating that the election of Tom Perez as DNC Chair could make it easier for him to run.


One thing is clear: Sanders won’t be backing down from his ideals anytime soon.




Following a dismal turn out in the Iowa primary, Martin O’Malley suspended his presidential campaign. For the next few months he remained relatively silent, intermittently campaigning for Hillary Clinton.


Ever since then, he has held a relatively private profile, not getting into the news too much and remaining out of the spotlight.


Shortly after Trump’s election, he considered a run for DNC Chair, stating, “We need to reform our nominating  process, articulate a bold progressive vision, recommit ourselves to higher wages and a stronger middle class, and return to our roots as a nationwide,  grassroots party.”


Despite making that public announcement, that plan never came to fruition, and he has been inactive since then.




The election was supposed to kill Marco Rubio. Trump beat him in 66 of the 67 counties in Florida, and the writing on the wall was spelling the end of his political career. But it only made him stronger.


In an unexpected victory, Marco Rubio managed to beat out his Democratic opponent with a total of 52% of the vote. He followed this up with a fiery passion in congress, trying to draw a line between partisan politics by giving speeches on free speech and civil discourse.


He also played on discontent with President Trump’s connections to Russia, pushing for a bill to rename the street in front of the Russian embassy after murdered opposition activist Boris Nemtsov.


Political stunts like this have been moderated by working bipartisanly on bills such as one that would force the restitution of art stolen by the Nazis, and by pushing back on White House refugee policy and cabinet nominees such as Rex Tillerson.


He is still perceived as weak by many, but having carried a historic 47% of the Hispanic vote and 17% of black vote in Florida, he may very well be the future of the Republican Party.




Ted Cruz was notable during campaign season for having been one of the only former Republican presidential nominee candidates to not have endorsed Donald Trump for President.


Cruz’s endorsement came eventually, but not without reprehensement and hesitation. On Sept. 23rd, he officially announced that he would be voting for Donald Trump in the general election.


Ted Cruz had once been at the top of the party. He led the Republican Congress to a defiant government shutdown over budget disputes.


He was, to many, the most obvious candidate for the Republican nomination. He had even been the second place candidate.


But glumly, he accepted the results of the election, and resigned himself to stay down low for the next couple of months. A controversial figure, he faces opposition from other Republicans, as well as, Democrats for his Senate seat.


He lost his popularity among many during the election, Trump drove him further to the right than he may have ever even wanted to go.


But America chooses who it chooses.


He might make a comeback in the future. But as of now, both his future and his present are unsure. Unstable. We can only wait and see.




To some, a sad man, nobody’s favorite son: trying his best to live up to the legacies of his brother, his father. To others, he is a meme; a representation of what they see as the joke that the Republican Party has become.


A moderate through and through, Jeb never was able to garner much support for his purposefully mediocre campaign. In a time of polarization, Jeb was the failed magnet that tried to bring it all together.


His campaign can be surmised by the one word he tweeted out as election results began to come in: “Painful.”


Ever since then, he has all but disappeared from popular discourse. Mentions of his name are met with the response “That meme is so dead.”


He leaves a legacy of having marginally helped push the ever controversial Betsy DeVos into office. That is to say, he leaves little of a legacy.
Maybe he will come into the spotlight  again in the future. But as of now, he remains as he left off—asking for America to please clap.  

“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers.”                        – Robin S. Sharma

The official list of NorCal JSA 2017 Political Candidates!



Caroline Olesky

Harpreet Mahi

Carl Howell

Kate Gross Whittaker

Lieutenant Governor

Katey Patrick

Jake Hanssen

Speaker of the Assembly

Angelica Vohland



Grace Ginsberg

Hayley Kintz

Vice Mayor

Alyssa Fong

Natasha Salmi


Jaqueline Chavez

Aiden Brekka

Bay Johnson

Mari Franzen




Vice Mayor



Oliver Soglin

Hannah Kuhns

Connor Whitehill

Anna Fehr



Griffin Epstein

Terrell Wrice

Vice Mayor



Nicki Watt

Zoe Fochs



Robert Jasso

Bennie Williams

Vice Mayor





* Nobody is running for this position. If you would like to declare for this, or any other position, please do so at any JSA event  where an FEC Agent (Elizabeth McDonough, Kyle Alves, Tobias Sunshine, Skylar Thoma, Mason Rogers) is present.

“the world is full of nice people. If you can’t find one, be one.”


The Making of a Leader

Alyssa Fong

Have you ever been inspired?

For some, inspiration is found in the adrenaline rush from running towards the ball in a sports game. For others, in the changing view of the natural scenery. And for others still, it comes from characters in books who seem to jump off the page.

But I take my inspiration from the leaders of tomorrow: the delegates of JSA.

I’m not always the girl who gets inspired. In fact, it began to happen less and less as I entered the world of high school, the world of “study more” and “cram if you have to.” Frankly, I didn’t expect that to change. I was always rushing to meet a deadline. I ranted and talked a lot, but there was nothing to talk about. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to expel my creative energy. I was losing passion.

Sitting in French class next to my chapter’s former president, I was at an all-time low. The world of school and grades was consuming me, and I felt alone. And yet, I was dragged into my first-ever JSA meeting because “it looks really good on college apps.”

But when I got to Fall State, it was something else entirely.

You all know how it goes. The debates, the caucuses, the student leadership, and how great it all was. But for me, that convention incited something in me that I hadn’t felt for a very long time. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it was, but all I knew is that I had never been filled with such a sense of hope. I knew that the leaders of tomorrow were sitting next to me, and behind me, and in front of me, and everywhere around me. I was proud to be in the presence of such intelligent, driven individuals. But these people were not cocky, nor did they think they were better than anyone else. They encouraged me to speak up at my first debate, and clapped loudly when I did.

And from then on, I was truly inspired by the delegates of NorCal JSA.

The confidence I gained from being a part of JSA began to filter into every aspect of my life. I took on leadership roles in my community, serving as president of Instrumental Music Council, French Honor Society, and my theatre’s Youth Advisory Board. I made friends with people who were more like me, and felt happier than ever before. And before I knew it, I was growing. I was growing as a person, and it was JSA that had helped me do it.

Within JSA, I was growing too. I was accepted into Cabinet as my top-choice position, Deputy Director of Expansion for the GGR. I joined the Youth Advisory Board and became Chapter Vice President. And I learned the importance of giving back to the region that embodies the essence of engagement and leadership.

My name is Alyssa Fong. I am running to be your GGR Vice Mayor. And I will represent the people because they are my inspiration.

GGR Senate

Aidan Brekka


When I first joined JSA at my school- AFE in Santa Cruz, I came because I was interested in politics. I was passionate about the issues around me, and I wanted a place to share my opinions. What I got was so much more.

Through JSA, my speaking and debate skills improved, and I met some of the greatest people I know. What I really got was an opportunity to associate with people who shared my interests, and that made the experience so much better.


After spending the better part of a year being my chapter’s vice president, managing some day-to-day chapter affairs, and getting a feel for how the larger organization worked, I decided to run, and am currently running, for Senator in the Golden Gate Region. Seeing that it’s absolutely possible to make change in the organization, I’ve centered my campaign around a few issues that I’m passionate about changing. From chapter expansion, to reducing the price of conventions, I’m focusing on what I believe will help NorCal JSA to grow and thrive.


I’m thankful to have the opportunity to be involved in such an amazing organization, and I’m focused now on how I can give back, and make JSA even better.


-Aidan Brekka

AFE JSA Vice President/ GGR Senate Candidate




Carl Howell

IMG_9412 (2)Milton Friedman once said “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. I have personal experience with this saying, because freshmen year I declared for governor after being promised just that, a free lunch. Little did I know that this was to be the start of a long JSA career. Throughout my first governor campaign I gained valuable experience with JSA, made connections, and made a killer video. Even though I lost by a huge margin, that experience shaped my JSA career for the better. That summer I attended the Davis Institute; where I learned leadership skills and had a chance to engage with real politicians. When school resumed I served as Director of Convention Technology and as a Chapter Internal Affairs agent. This is where I fell in love with the behind the scenes work of JSA. Helping run the convention, communicating with chapter presidents, and trying to find solutions was great fun, and inspired me to run for mayor and made me want to become governor even more.This year after a great summer at the DNC and at the Montezuma Leadership Summit, I have negotiated an increase in the scholarship money you get from JSA for summer school, as Director of Summer School Promotion, and as mayor have helped run successful one days and chapter cons.


Now I hope that you will read my platform here and check out my website at or if you prefer facebook. Decide for yourself who you think the best candidate is. If you are feeling inspired to join my team click here, and if you have any questions comments concerns don’t hesitate to call, email, or write me a letter at,, 510-846-4622, or

Carl Howell

1429 Gibbons Dr.


Katey Patrick for Lieutanant Governor

Katey Patrick

Hey NorCal! My name is Katey Patrick, and this year, I am running for your Lieutenant Governor! My JSA story is a little different from most, in the fact that my chapter didn’t exist when I began high school. As a freshman at Sutter Union High, I was crushed to find out that there wasn’t a debate and politics club. The fall of that year, I worked as an intern for my federal representative on his successful re-election campaign. Working that close in the field of politics inspired me to found my very own JSA chapter. At my first Fall State, I remember sitting in the Greater California Regional caucus, without any elected official to lead us. From then on out, I wanted to change that. My sophomore year, I ran for senate for GCR, and was elected. At CabCon that year, I ran for Speaker of the Senate and was elected as well. Getting elected to both spots was a true honor, and getting to oversee the Expansion Department was even more so an honor. There, I got to see what does and what does not work for expanding. And coming from a region that desperately needs it, I believe that I know what to do to further expand all regions, from Greater California to East Bay. But once we successfully expand, the trick will be getting those new chapters to stay. Keeping a strong personal connection to chapters, especially ones that are new and ones that are far away through a unified cabinet is extremely important to me, and an essential part of my platform. This is why I want to see to it that cabinet stays connected and close consistently throughout the year. I believe in this organization and us so much! I want to do my best to ensure that it not only stays as great as it is, but becomes better. And that is why I’m running for your Lieutenant Governor!


If you ever have any questions, feel free to contact me at:

Jsa questions and Answers

Harpreet Mahi


Goals and dreams?  My campaign logo is of a clenched raised fist.  This raised fist can symbolize my goals and dreams for the NorCal state very simply.  I want to unify and strengthen our state, with stronger communication, a well-built level of support from every cabinet member and chapter president, and lead our state to a new era.  I want to introduce new, forward thinking ideas that have never been used before in our state.  I want to earn back all the delegates that we have lost over the years.  I want to bring NorCal back to its glory days.  I am sick and tired of being underestimated as a state and not completing all the goals that we have set out to accomplish.  My dream is for us to not only set goals, but work hard to achieve them. My platform will focus on not only what I want to do, but will EXTREMELY focus on how I want to achieve all my goals.  The HOW is huge for me.  If I were to be elected governor, I would make sure that the work to reach these goals is being done the way that it is supposed to be.  

Why are you running?  I am running because I couldn’t see any other way to spend my senior year.  I have so much passion fostered up for this organization and the people that make it up, all I really want to do is bring that passion to the office of governor and better the state and everyone in it.  I have had so many ideas that I think can be brought to light under the office of governor and better the state completely.  I feel that this choice of campaign was not really planned for a long time or expected.  I was surprised in myself when I did it.  The reason that I did it though was because I was tired of seeing our state not at the full potential that it could be at.  Another reason why I am running is because growing up I never really had a place that I felt like I belonged.  I was oftentimes bullied growing up, and I really had no set direction in my life.  I spent my freshman year of high school extremely depressed and not really being involved in clubs too much. However, when I joined JSA my sophomore year of high school my life completely changed.  I found a place where I truly belonged, and I would never stop being involved from that point on.  I want to spend countless hours getting NorCal JSA up to the potential that I think it has, so that ultimately it can impact more and more students in the way that it impacted me.  

Motivation?  My motivation comes from seeing such an amazing state with so much potential that I love so much, not reaching its full potential and constantly failing from a lack of communication.  I want to fix all the problems that our state faces, and I don’t want to stop until I do.  I am sick of there being a want for change in the atmosphere and not enough action for that change coming from cabinet members and elected officials.  Yes we do have some really hard working cabinet members and elected officials, but there are others who fail to do their job and duty to the state.  My motivation can also come from this lack of leadership from some people who have become not very motivated throughout the year.  I want to help motivate more people next year.

What do I want people to know about me?  I want people to know that this choice of mine to run for governor is first and foremost for the people and the state that I love, and it will never be for me.  I am ready to work hard and be on call 24/7 to help our state prosper.  I also want people to know that I was never planning on running for governor the year before.  In fact, the year before I had hope and figured our state would become a lot better this year.  However, that has not been the case so far.  I had simply hoped on running for a mayoral position.  But looking at the way that things have been going this year, I am running this campaign to change everything for the better and to turn our state into a state that is going to prosper in the years to come.  I want to be the voice of the people, and the voice of a state that has spent many years suffering.  I hope that people see that I am doing this for them and want to only make intelligent decisions with the people and the state’s benefit in mind.  I want to be someone that people can trust, and put my emphasis on being honest and committed to the state that has truly changed my life.  


Griffin Epstein: GCR Mayor

Griffin Epstein

        My name is Griffin Epstein, and I am running for Mayor of GCR. I restarted the JSA chapter at Petaluma High and became co-president. JSA is an excellent way of being politically involved, debating in a safe environment, and meeting other politically active teenagers. Going to Winter Congress and the New Leaders Conference this year inspired me to take my JSA involvement further. As the largest student-run organization in the nation I realized I can make a huge difference, leaving JSA better for the future generations. Other leaders at the conference shared their stories of how they had made a difference in JSA, broadening chapters and taking NorCal JSA to new heights. The amazing leadership qualities of the Big Three and other people like Caroline Olesky are truly remarkable. I find myself willing to make the same difference.

     Currently, our GCR region is on the smaller size and one of the hardest regions to manage because of it’s spread out schools. While this is a challenge, I am ready to meet it. I have experience managing my chapter, working through challenges. I am proud of a growing chapter that I plan to grow back into a powerhouse. My skills as a leader are well developed, while my management and communication have impressed teachers and the members of my chapter. I know that I still have much room to grow as a leader and person while always being ready to receive constructive criticism..

    Next year I have an ambitious but I believe realistic set of expectations for GCR. First, I hope to improve communication for everybody in the region. I will have weekly calls with my chapter presidents to discuss news and receive any of their comments and concerns from their chapter while helping them. This will also include a consistent stream of emails and my door always being open for talking. I also realize as a large region there is a lot of untapped potential. Working with the department of expansion my goal is to welcome at least three new chapters to the GCR next year.


jake for jsa!

Jake Hanssen

       JSA is a building block, a fundamental step in the journey of so many high school students. It’s a home away from home, a place where people are judged not based on race or gender or class, but rather on their argumentation and defense of what they believe in. We have all had moments in which our opinions and beliefs have been put to the test, and JSA has allowed us to each individually become people that understand ourselves to a better degree. We’ve all loved the moments we’ve shared, the silly and serious resolutions that we’ve put to the test, and the songs that we’ve sung out hearts out to in karaoke. We all have that passion, that innate desire to challenge ourselves daily, weekly, and at every convention to insure that we are the best, brightest, and most capable political leaders in the country. But now, we are facing a serious problem. Attendance is down, Summer Programs are losing popular, and it is up to us to insure that future delegates have the same rights, privileges, and opportunities that we do. So I’m calling on everyone. I’m here to help, I’m here to put my heart and soul into this organization, but nobody could do this alone. Everyone needs to play a part in our revival and our recovery into the strongest JSA state that we can be. It may be the role of the Governor and associates to keep the state running, but it is the role of the delegates to support and assist in any way. Without each and every person that puts their time, money, and effort in every convention, the offices and titles and prestigious names mean nothing. So when Spring State rolls around, I ask you to vote for the candidates that have your best interests at heart. Vote for the people that will work their hardest and help you to make JSA become the best that it can be. In my run for LTG, hopefully I too will gain your vote. Thanks so much, and vote Jake for JSA!