Santa Clara County Voter's Guide On Children's Issues

City of Gilroy

Zach Hilton

Children and working families are high on my priorities because I represent one myself. Right now many families are struggling and I will fight to protect them.
My vision is simple. Have a Livable Gilroy For All. We can achieve that through:
● Safe Communities
● Local Economic Development
● Affordable Housing
● Quality Education

  1. Taking into consideration the profound impact of COVID-19 and the expanded movement for racial justice and equity, what do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?

    #1 Affordable Housing
    #2 Safe Communities
    #3 Quality Education

    #1 Affordable Housing- Affordable Housing for All- We are in a housing crisis and the dream of owning a home is not a realistic opportunity for everyone. We need to continue to promote all options for housing solutions that benefit everyone. Gilroy must continue to promote the development of more affordable housing for all income levels while looking at creative polices that we can control to make them more livable, bikeable, and walkable. State standards like SB 330 and SB 35 that streamline housing by requiring City’s to adopt a checklist and design standards allows for needed housing to be developed at a lower cost, quicker, and efficiently. Recent State changes to the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) process supports the building of ADU’s on single family and duplex residential lots while having the additional option for junior accessory dwelling units. As more residents want to age in place, having the option to move into a smaller unit on your property while being able to rent out the larger home, allows income and stability for you to stay in your neighborhood. The building of ADU’s in multi-family developments like in single family lots will provide additional needed housing by infill. Our housing crisis is not going away soon, and many of these ADU’s are needed for the “missing middle” who need housing too. Around the Downtown there are many examples of 2-5-unit complexes that were built many years ago, and simply you aren’t allowed to make those conversions today. Those types of units are needed for the “missing middle”, and address the root cause of the housing crisis, there aren’t enough homes.

    #2 Safe Communities- Safe Communities- Everyone deserves to feel safe and secure in their neighborhoods. Fire & Police are the only public service that stands ready to protect us 24/7. As a current 20-year career Firefighter/Paramedic in Oakland, CA I understand the service needs in Gilroy, CA and value to work that our Fire & Police are committed to each shift. #8CantWait Project by Campaign Zero response from Gilroy Police Department can be found here. I support the Police Chief and GPD's actions to utilize crisis intervention teams and resources from Santa Clara County when responding to the homeless, mentally ill, and domestic violence calls. We want to go home safe to our families at the end of our shifts, and showing up to these calls is not always the most appropriate response. I am supportive of GPD's removal of the Carotid Control Hold that is allowed as a force option. It's stated that "Most individuals with no other underlying issues (stimulant psychosis) will regain consciousness within 20-30 seconds." If it's known that this can be a lethal force option, then that's the only intention it should be used for. Many that end up in this situation where they can't be detained by using regular standards are in a "stimulant psychosis". I'd like to see Gilroy Police Department have a De-escalation Policy and Duty to Intervene Policy established today, and I'm glad to hear that the department is receiving this training currently.

    Recently Gilroy City Council approved a contract with a consultant to survey (GIS/Video) our sidewalks citywide. This will allow them to prioritize repair, like we do for our streets. The funding came from our Vehicle License Fee Fund. I would support using this fund to make actual repairs to sidewalks. Our residents deserve to feel safe walking on any sidewalk in Gilroy. I support repairing sidewalks, adding more trees for shade, and enhanced lighting. The burden of replacing sidewalks should not be with the homeowners who were not a part of the decisions to place trees that would do so much damage to the public sidewalks.

    #3 Quality Education- Quality Education for All- I will continue to work and collaborate with the school board, teachers association, home & school clubs, to support families so that all students have a quality education. As a founding member of the Safe Routes to School Task Force, this program will continue to provide quality education and life skills to our youth. I’ll promote volunteer opportunities to help with food distribution, work with local groups and organizations to offer childcare for essential workers and families who need it most. Supporting funding for organizations and professionals who offer social/emotional support. Building tutoring committees to help students with school work and parents with computer literacy. I support the Gilroy Unified School District Board resolution to support the passage of Prop 15 (Schools & Communities First). This will bring increased funding to our School District and will bring in approximately $2.8 million to the City of Gilroy.

    I already provide the opportunity for high school and college students to intern on my campaign and I plan on establishing an internship program once elected to Gilroy City Council. This program exposes students to City Council operations and the activities of a legislator’s work. These experiences include working with constituents, conducting community outreach efforts, assisting community-based organizations, organizing civic events and projects, database development and upkeep, staffing the office, and other activities. Internships are available to those who are currently enrolled in high school or college. Depending on their high school or college programs, students may also receive different types of school credits for participating as an intern.

    Many legislators began their careers by interning. It is an invaluable way to gain a true understanding of Gilroy City Council’s democratic process, as well as an excellent opportunity to make important contacts while serving the community. Interns will gain valuable education and work experience by fully participating in agreed-upon hours of work. All internship work is voluntary and students will not receive any monetary compensation.

  2. How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?

    The priorities will guide me in supporting budget items that favor those in need and those at risk in our community. It is important that we take care of them first as a community because we are only as strong as our weakest right now.

  3. What steps will you take to address the high cost and lack of availability of quality child care and preschool programs in our communities, especially for low-income children and English language learners?

    I will look for every opportunity to collaborate with Community Based Organizations (CBO's), County, State and Federal resources and bring that needed funding to Gilroy.

  4. What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?

    I will continue to work with the Gilroy Teachers Association, Gilroy School Board, and Gilroy School District to advocate for the children with special needs and with disabilities.

  5. Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the "opportunity gap" that low-income children and children of color experience, including lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors and enrichment activities. If elected, what steps will you take to address this issue?

    I will look for every opportunity to collaborate with Community Based Organizations (CBO's), County, State and Federal resources and ensure we have inclusive policies that guide the directing of these resources.