I'm running because it's time for bold, progressive and responsive leadership in Palo Alto. Palo Altans deserves a council that uses local government as an instrument of good — to preserve and build a community that is a great place for all children and families, no matter who they are, what their needs are or what their socio-economic status is.
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?
The top three issues impacting children and families that are addressable by our city council are: 1. housing, 2. mental health 3. community services. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that children and families of all races and economic backgrounds have, maintain, and can find stable and affordable housing. Palo Alto has a history of mental health issues, which have only been amplified this year due to COVID-19, shelter in place and remote learning. We need to double down on the mental health services we provide to both youth and adults, especially underserved communities. We need to ensure we are maintaining critical community and social services which are important more than ever due to COVID-19. We need to ensure that we are serving our most in-need populations, and are not cutting our support while we making deep cuts to our budget overall.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
First, we need to look at increasing and diversifying our revenue sources. It's precisely during tough budgetary and economic times, that we need to ask larger corporations, who are actually making money during COVID-19, to step up a little bit more, pay their fair share, and help invest and maintain vital community programs and social services. I am in favor of a business tax on larger, profitable corporations to help mitigate cuts. When looking at the budget, I would prioritize services and programs that serve our must vulnerable and in-need populations the most and who are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
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?
As a city, we need to increase public funding for these programs, as well as update our zoning code to make it easier and cheaper for child care and preschool programs to find space in our community. We can also leverage public space, including at Cubberley Community Center to bring down the operating costs for child care and preschool programs.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
As a human relations commissioner, I've worked to increase accessibility to our public facilities and recreation programs for children and families of all abilities. This has led to a bi-weekly community services departmental task force that works to address unmet needs and to proposals to build a family changing room at our public pool and to designate a therapeutic recreation specialist. As a council member, I will continue to work to ensure children and families of all abilities have access to the resources and opportunities of our community. We need to work to ensure that all members, especially our underserved or most in need segments, aren't left behind and that their needs are being met.
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 historically linked to our housing decisions. If we are serious about addressing racial and economic inequality we have to get serious about addressing the housing crisis. We need to get rid of exclusionary zoning, and reduce barriers to building denser housing near transit corridors and in jobs centers.