As a stepfather to three wonderful children and grand-father to three amazing grand-children, I am blessed with a wonderful family. Our children are our future. They deserve the best support we can provide them with from education, to health-care and to being loved by family and community.
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. We need to ensure that everyone has the same chance to succeed in life, no matter how wealthy a family is, and no matter their race, gender and/or sexual orientation.
We need to provide them with the best and free education we can. We need to find the best teachers available and pay them the wages they really deserve.
We need to ensure that all kids can grow up in a safe environment, free of any fears and supported by their family, neighbors and community.
2. We need to ensure that all of our children have access to great education, access to the Internet to participate in the world of online and distance-learning.
Providing great education to all children is key and will enable a great start into their future. It's important that they have the access and tools they need to be able to
participate in online- and distanced-learning.
3. We need to provide free child-care in a safe way for families that rely on it during COVID-19 times and thereafter.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
In the city of Morgan Hill, one of our on-going priorities that we added shortly after my election, is to enhance diversity and inclusiveness. All decisions made by our Council and City staff need to be looked at through this lens, too, including budget related decisions. I will work hard to prevent further cuts to programs impacting our children, and will work even harder to restore programs for our children that had to get cut temporarily due to COVID-19 budget cuts.
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?
We have to work together to resolve any such issue as a community with schools, non-profits and other organizations involved. It will take a village to make it happen in a way that will work for all, but it will be so worth it. Any program has to be for free or at low cost to ensure that it will be accessible to low-income families, too. As an immigrant to the United States, coming from a country where all children are taught several languages at school at a young age already, I'm a strong believer in multi-lingual trainings and education.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
One of the projects I'm very proud of that I supported early on in our city is the creation of a Magical Bridge Playground that will open in Morgan Hill next spring. It will be an all inclusive playground for all including for children with special needs and disabilities. Creating such a playground in our community will reflect so well what Morgan Hill stands for being an inclusive community for all.
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 grew up in foster care and a poor working class family myself as a very young kid. I very well know what it means to live paycheck-to-paycheck, and to be looked down at. As Councilmember, as father and grandfather, and as a member of a wonderful community, I will not stop to work towards making the lives of these children and their families better. It will take all of us to help. We are all human beings with different skills and all of us can be part of the solution. Together, we can make it happen: from schools, to teachers, to family members, to neighbors, to community members and to elected officials. We have to help those in need! It's our obligation. It is the right thing to do!