ASU student takes charge of a Maricopa County Board of Supervisors' member campaign

Board of Supervisors candidate Matthew Cerra has turned to ASU student Zak Ghali to lead his bid for office

ASU senior Zak Ghali has been interested in politics since a young age, and his political involvements at  ASU have led to a job as a campaign manager for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. 

An Arizona native and Hamilton High School alumnus, Ghali said he has always been inspired by the American political process. Since his start at the University, he has become the vice president of ASU Young Democrats.

“I have been involved in politics at the local and national level," he said. "I have made calls and knocked door-to-door for various Democratic candidates.”

Legislative District 17 chair Carol Maas has worked alongside Ghali, and currently holds a seat on the LD 17 board. Maas has seen Ghali grow into his leadership position, and said she believes that he has a bright future in public service. 

"Ghali shined when he helped students at Hamilton High School create their own Democratic club," she said. 

Ghali is currently in charge of managing the campaign for Matthew Cerra, a Democratic candidate for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. 

He said that he was recognized for his work with ASU Young Democrats by a county party official who pitched him the idea of possibly managing Cerra’s campaign.

"I was shocked and, at first, was intimidated by the idea of taking on such an important task," Ghali said. "But I was also grateful for the opportunity that was given to me."

He now oversees all aspects of local research, drafting and implementing a campaign plan, while also coordinating events with vendors, consultants and local media to better inform voters of Cerra's platform. 

"We have canvassed and used phone banks to call potential voters and inform them of current troubling issues," he said. 

Cerra is currently running for the First District seat on the Board of Supervisors, which represents cities as far north as Tempe and as far south as Queen Creek. 

The Board of Supervisors carries out Maricopa County’s constitutional mandates, including public safety, as effectively as possible. They also work alongside county agencies in order to make improvements for the fiscal year regarding the yearly budget and issues that directly affect the community.

"The Board of Supervisors is in charge of managing our county's budget and makes sure that all our agencies have the adequate resources to carry out their duties," Cerra said.  "One of my major issues is the lack of funding in our education.  The state has stopped funding both our community colleges, and state universities. The county is where the additional funding comes from although resources are limited."

He is currently running against Republican candidate Denny Barney.  Although both candidates ran unopposed on their respective tickets in the August primary, Barney received over 20,000 votes more than Cerra, according to the Maricopa County Recorder's Office

Cerra said his campaign has a focus on drawing attention to a lack of funding for the Maricopa County Community College District.

“All Maricopa Community Colleges are self-funded," Cerra said. "These institutions received a 100 percent cutback on state funding, leaving the burden for students." 

Ghali has the responsibility of coordinated events around the East Valley to support Cerra's campaign. He embraces the idea of being directly involved with community, which he said helps community relations overall. 

Cerra said Ghali's work on the campaign has been invaluable. 

“Zak's determination in making a difference in the community made me confident that I was making the correct decision in him managing my campaign,” Cerra said.

Reach the reporter at or follow @jmdelga3 on Twitter.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.