Alumni on the Move: Alex Mohajer Runs for State Senate
March 27, 2023
When Alex Mohajer (JD ’11) graduated from Chapman University, his graduating class voted this champion of equality and LGBTQ+ rights, “Most Likely to be Held in Contempt of Court”–they were wrong, of course. Mohajer left Chapman and entered public service where, for the past ten years, he has been investigating allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment as a Civil Service Advocate for LA County where, it is gratifying to note, he remains in good standing.
Raised by a single mother who fled Iran just before the revolution in the 1970s, Mohajer is a true son of Irvine, first graduating from University High School and then Irvine Valley College before heading for the larger world of the University of California, Berkeley. He returned to Orange County to study law, earning his JD at Fowler School of Law in 2011.
Mohajer describes some of the difficulties he and his family faced early on, with only one breadwinner to rely on and limited resources. He got his first job at 12, a paper route for the Irvine World News, a paying gig that helped support his family. The hard work and sacrifices of the whole family allowed the Mohajers to live in a neighborhood with better schools, which ultimately led Mohajer to pursue an undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley.
The bedrock of Mohajer’s character was forged through the resilience of a working-class mother determined to instill a sense of fairness and civic mindedness in her young son. Mohajer recounts stories of his mother, working as a social worker at the time, taking him with her to site visits and insisting that her children watch each and every State of the Union speech, regardless of who was president at the time. A well-taught lesson in civic duty given by a mother who had bitter, first-hand experience of what happens when civil society disintegrates; and a lesson well-received by a son who is currently at the start of his first political campaign–a run for California State Senate (37th District) in 2024.
Alex Mohajer’s story seems to return again and again to the same working-class values he grew up with: Family, community, and fairness in all things. Mohajer’s go-to solution for political problems seems to be the same one that makes him an effective advocate–it is an effort to reach out, rather than shut down, of extending the hand, rather than clenching the fist, and, as he put it, trying to “find the love for others and not being reactionary, but rather being process-oriented in order to get things done.”
He may only be getting his first real taste of the campaign trail in his current bid for office, but Mohajer is no stranger to the miasma of the modern political milieu. In 2019 he executive produced the multimedia effort behind the National Vote-at-Home Initiative–a multimedia project aimed at registering voters in 16 swing states and was later awarded a 2020 Truman Award from the Democratic Party. Even before this, however, Alex Mohajer was an ardent scholar of American politics and has more than earned his stripes as a political writer and commentator, even snagging a 2018 award for Excellence in Feature Writing from the National Association of LGBTQ Journalists.
When asked what he remembers best of his time at the Fowler School of Law, Mohajer is unambiguous: “Nancy Schultz!” he exclaims, regaling me with a tale of how she caught him unprepared for one of her mock trial sessions, “She put my feet to the fire,” he laughs, elaborating on how it was Professor Schultz who provided him with a masterclass in the benefits of thorough preparation, of critically examining everything, and of good, old-fashioned, hard work to get things done.
“The best part [of Chapman Law] for me was being on the mock trial team with Nancy Schultz as coach. She challenged me, made me and [mock trial partner] Tina Talebi work hard,” he adds. In the end, it seems that it was during Professor Schultz’s mock trial sessions that Mohajer found the wherewithal to start shaping a vital and enduring career in advocacy.
Reflecting fondly on his time at Chapman, Mohajer reveals how he felt inspired as a young law student as he watched the U.S. grow as a nation. Inspiration came first through watching the ballot for Prop 8 in California unfold and later, watching Barack Obama take office from the Student Lounge at Kennedy Hall. Then it was his own graduation and, along with a host of equally indebted classmates, the tough reality of stepping foot into a world principally defined by the worst economic crisis since the great depression. Yet Mohajer is now, as he was then, steadfastly undaunted. Perhaps it is the patience and maturity earned from his paper route and his working-class roots–the knowledge that real change takes time and hard work. Perhaps it is a latent drive to see a fairer world emerge from this somewhat messier one. Putting the question to Mohajer reveals some of his trademark, contagious optimism, “This really is about leaving behind a better world than the one you inherited,” he adds, weighing each word. “It’s our generation that has to fix this.”
Alex Mohajer is many things, a Chapman Law alumnus, a fierce champion of equality and LGBTQ+ rights, a doting son, a champion of the working class, a lauded journalist, a politician, and a true son of Orange County. He is, ultimately, a truly democratic Californian and a champion of the enormous value of diversity and difference. “Democracy,” he says, “that’s not something I take lightly.”
It seems it is an idea that he has come to truly embody. We wish Alex Mohajer every bit of luck in his bid for a seat in the State Senate.
Visit the Alex Mohajer for State Senate campaign website here: https://alexmohajer.com/