I believe it is the fundamental responsibility of all public leaders to fight for the well-being of constituents above all other interests. I believe that children and families become most vulnerable when basic needs fall out of reach. As a City Councilmember, I'll fight to ensure these needs are met.
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?
I believe that the top three issues facing children and families are:
1. The mental health impacts that are placed on our children under increasing pressure to perform academically, and in a rapidly changing and more unstable world. I believe we must coordinate closely with our local healthcare district and community mental health clinics to boost funding and the availability of effective resources of their mental health services
2. Material wellbeing. When the affordability of shelter is far too high for working families to afford, it creates relational stress as well as material sacrifices such as trading food or medicine for rents. I believe we must defend stabilized rents in Mountain View to stave off such dire choices in our City.
3. Educational quality. As our growth and population increases, our school infrastructure experiences more strain. We must modify our land-use plans and deploy tools like Transfer Development Rights to facilitate the acquisition of school sites to keep class sizes at a manageable and quality size
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
Regarding budgeting, I would assure that we prioritize our community mental health organizations as recipients of community grants/funding.
Furthermore, I believe we must increase our ability to fund new affordable housing either through our community development or development fees. This can help reduce the strain of housing costs on the health of our working families.
Given that land costs are so high in our region, there is no budgeting that is required for the use of transfer of development rights acquisition strategies. That said, it does require significant political will, and I am willing to take this on to ensure quality education for our future students.
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 believe that we must both look at our current permitting regulations to identify whether or not our city is inadvertently making it too difficult to maintain child care businesses and/or community led operations.
To this end, I believe that the City ought to fund community and neighborhood cooperatives for individuals or groups who are willing to take on day care efforts, with special considerations for our low-income neighborhoods and English as a second language children.
Similar to our successful neighborhood association grant program, I believe we must reward residents who are willing to help our community with this essential service and facilitate rather than obstruct their efforts.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
In order to improve inclusion for our children with special needs, we must ensure that they are able to participate in all city-sanctioned after-school programs, park facilities, and care facilities.
To this end, I am committed to fully funding the Magical Bridge Playground project in our city which would make public play facilities available to all of our children, accounting for special needs and disabilities. Furthermore, as noted above, any grants for day care efforts must also include funds for training and certifications for the care of special needs children.
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?
As a child raised in a low-income immigrant working-class community, I understand the impacts that lack of healthy food, preschool, tutors, and recreational activities had on myself and my peers.
During COVID, I've participated in food drives through our churches every other week to distribute whole foods to needy families. I believe our City ought to partner with these charities even after COVID to ensure that healthy foods are available to residents.
I believe we must set metrics/goal for participation rates in preschool/recreational programs from low-income children. This will help identify paths to increased representation and help identify shortcomings that must be remediated.