Laguna Beach Democratic, Republican parties unite for Ukraine

Laguna Beach Democrats president Gwen McNallan on Sunday comforted a Ukrainian woman named Nadiia who has resettled in Laguna Beach with her son after fleeing the Russian invasion. Photo by Steve Zepezauer

In a rare sign of bipartisanship, Laguna Beach’s political parties called on members to rally together at Main Beach on Sunday in support of the Ukrainian people’s defense of their country against the Russian Invasion.

The Laguna Beach Democratic Club and Laguna Beach GOP joined forces to bring about 100 community members wearing yellow and blue. Demonstrators hoisted signs with signs emblazoned with “Stand With Ukraine”, “Stop Russian Oil Imports to USA”, and “Putin = War Criminal”.

“It was a great event and I say that because it was nonpartisan. Here we were Republican and Democrats, people who had probably never spoken to each other. It was a really inspiring event. I only wish that it had some real impact for the people over there,” Laguna Beach GOP president Emil Monda said Monday.

Monda’s oldest son, Andrew, is living in Germany with his Ukrainian girlfriend whose mother and sister fled the war. Her father and four grandparents were forced to flee their homes in the Kyiv suburbs. The father drove them away from the fighting unsure of where they would stay long-term. As of publication, their location wasn’t clear but they’re attempting to leave Ukraine and reunite with family in Germany. The father is barred from leaving the country because he’s under 60 years old.

A Ukrainian woman named Nadiia who has resettled with her young son in Laguna Beach choked back tears while speaking to the crowd gathered in front of the Main Beach Lifeguard Tower. Laguna Beach Democratic Club president Gwen McNallan put an arm around her.

“Her pain was just visceral. A young woman with her young son, it’s impossible for me to not feel that with her,” McNallan said Tuesday.

After working for 13 years with a nonprofit that serves international exchange students, McNallan has seen Ukrainian alumni pour their grief into social media over the last week. Her voice cracked as she described watching these personal stories fill her newsfeed.

She’s hopeful about working with Laguna Beach Republicans to host more events that unite the community as seen Sunday.

“We were all wearing yellow and blue,” McNallan said. “At no time was anyone defined as either a Democrat or Republican. I’m sure there are other issues where we align, like humanitarian causes.”

A pair of young protesters hoist a sign and flower to support Ukraine at Main Beach Park on Sunday. Photo by Steve Zepezauer
About 100 protesters rallied to support Ukraine at Main Beach Park on Sunday. Photo by Steve Zepezauer
Laguna Beach GOP president Emil Monda and Laguna Beach Democratic Club president Gwen McNallan at Main Beach on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Deborah Engle
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  1. Thank you Emil and Michele Monda and Gwen McNallan for bringing people together in our small town to bring attention to the human tragedy going on in the Ukraine. This is what leadership looks like. #bevocal, #no-dictators, #stopmonsterputin

  2. The only issue made clearer by the merging of Parties and the number of people who came to ‘show support to somewhere on the other side of the world’ is that these people are rich enough not to work. They need to be productive, get jobs, start businesses. Not lol around wasting day times acting groovier-than-thou.

  3. The mingling of minds against war was on a Sunday….most don’t work on Sunday(if fortunate enough)…taking time to welcome displaced Ukrainians, voicing pleas against war and death, coming together to unite against Putin are actions of being ‘groovier-than-thou’????

    Yikes. Guess you prefer everyone to be so beholden to the capitalist work week of never having anytime to have critical thinking skills applied to matters of the heart.

    I guess some just remain mired in their distaste of others, never to heal wounds of division.


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