Michael MacDonaldMichael MacDonald ’18 B.A. Political Science

By Stephanie Villafuerte

Michael MacDonald worked in the service industry for more than 10 years, bartending and waiting tables all over New York City. He always dreamed of going to college, yet it wasn’t until a frequent customer heard of his ambitions that he felt inspired to apply.

“I will never forget this customer – she consistently made an effort to encourage and motivate me to enroll in school every time she stopped by the restaurant,” MacDonald said.

That’s how MacDonald found himself at Borough of Manhattan Community College. A few years later, during a trip to his childhood home of Ventura County, he decided to transfer to CSU Channel Islands.

 “I fell in love with CSUCI when I first visited the campus. I met several faculty members and students and knew it would be a fit for me,” MacDonald recalled.

The 2018 grad would go on to receive his B.A. in Political Science, crediting Assistant Professor Matthew Mendez and Lecturer Tim Allison for his memorable time.

“Their professionalism, eagerness to help, dedication, and commitment to the field allowed students to thrive,” MacDonald explained.

During his time at CSUCI, MacDonald participated in the Henry L. “Hank” Lacayo Institute program, which allows students to experience the workplace by engaging in various internship assignments. He was selected as an intern for the City of Port Hueneme and then promoted to assistant city clerk post-graduation, launching his career in city government.

“I learned that the city clerk serves as a compliance officer and is responsible for administering democratic processes, such as elections, access to city records, and maintaining the legislative history to provide the public with transparency,” said MacDonald. “This experience allowed me to see the impact city government can have on the quality of life for its residents.”

Today, MacDonald works as an assistant city clerk for the City of Berkeley where his responsibilities range from managing the city’s public financing program, which provides funds for candidates running for mayor or councilmember, to communicating with his colleagues in and out of meetings.

“I provide city officials with information involving conflict of interest requirements and I advise commissioners, city staff, and the public on regulations regarding city advisory and quasi-judicial commissions,” MacDonald explained. “Further, I attend fair campaign practices commission meetings, supervise the public information and research counter, and manage requests for information under the Public Records Act.”

MacDonald was also recently appointed to serve as chair of the Oakland Public Ethics Commission (PEC) — a role which he is grateful to be doing for the public during a dark time.

“I felt like I had the responsibility to ensure that my local government was fair, open, and honest,” said MacDonald. “It is my goal to continue the mission of the PEC and advance good governance policies to increase trust and participation from the full community.”

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© Fall 2021 / Volume 26 / Number 2 / Biannual

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