Being a father has a big impact on my role as a public servant. I am always reminded that my positions have impacts on kids and families. I have a responsibility to those with little or no voice and I take that seriously. Children and families have a right to live in a safe, caring and inclusive community where their needs are met and they have
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?
Safety – Public safety is the first priority of local government. And today, it means how do we keep our kids safe from a global pandemic. How do we keep our kids safe when they are sheltering in place (and perhaps not in a safe environment).
School Resource Officers (SRO) – We have a strong partnership with our public-school district to provide SROs. It is truly a partnership with the schools and their administration. I realize there is controversy around police on campuses, but our program is run differently as a partnership. While our kids are learning on-line, I have proposed that we use our SRO’s in partnership with district personnel to make home visits.
Healthy kids – making sure that kids have the proper nutrition and healthcare they need. In Morgan Hill, we have partnered with the schools, churches and non-profit to provide healthy meals to kids and families. The home visits and well-checks I mentioned above need to also include an element of asking/checking on kids’ healthcare. We need to bring visions checks and dental checks to homes for kids in need.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
These will all remain high priorities for me. We fund SRO’s currently; these suggestions simply move their focus from campus to home. We have partnered with the Healthier Kids Foundation and need to continue to do so.
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?
Morgan Hill has addressed some of the need by creating our own program (now closed due to COVID). Years ago, when building our Community Center we included a unique space for daycare/preschool. Owning the building allows the City to offer the service at a significantly reduced cost. We are actively working with the County to create a model that will comply with County regulations and allow us to reopen.
In partnership with the YMCA and the school district we have provided a childcare program for the kids of essential workers.
I will continue to be a supporter of requiring childcare facilities and programs to be located on-sight of affordable housing developments that use any city or tax subsidizes.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
I have been a strong supporter – both as councilmember and personally contributing – of building an inclusive playground in partnership with the Magical Bridge Foundation. This wonderful facility will provide a safe place for people of all abilities to play and gather. And, just as important, it will make a statement about our community values. Values that tell the world we are striving to be an inclusive community. We have a ways to go, and I will reflect on the need for this playground and how we can apply the same values across policies and across our community.
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?
The “opportunity gap” is a real issue for kids and families in Morgan Hill and across South County. I believe strongly in partnerships that bring the best skill sets to the table to solve these kinds of issues. I work closely with our school district in looking for creative ways I can engage the city in kids’ lives.
One example is Broadband access. Even before COVID and Shelter-In-Place, we have been working on improving access in Morgan Hill. While much of it is driven by business needs, I have tried to keep the needs of kids in connecting to school resources as a high priority in any conversations. And now, we are experiencing the need. As a father (my youngest graduated in 2020) I have experienced the need for reliable and fast, internet access. As a City we are trying to leverage our contracts for service to move the private sector in filling the “gaps” that exist in coverage today.
Several years ago, after learning that Morgan Hill had a low percentage of kids enrolled in healthcare programs, I became the champion of providing city resources to partner with the Healthier Kids Foundation to enroll more kids in subsidized healthcare. This partnership led to the VisionFirst, DentalFirst and HearingFirst programs and their widespread use in Morgan Hill schools.