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

City of San Jose, District 6

Jake Tonkel

Our children are our future. When our political, economic and societal decisions center around creating a world our children will be proud to take over, then we know we are starting down the right path. Our job as a community is to address our most challenging structural barriers to ensure equal health, access and opportunity for everyone.

  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?

    Access to healthcare - I am a supporter of Medicare for All. At the city level that means educating and pressuring my political peers at the state and federal level and pushing the county to expand access through their facilities.
    Economic Security - our inability to shelter in place properly was an economic issue. Poverty wages and high rents put families in need of food immediately. This pushed families to the brink and many needed to continue to work, even in unsafe conditions to just stay fed and housed. We need to enact a living wage and stop subsidizing luxury development over affordable housing construction.
    Educational Opportunity - as we failed to take seriously the lack of access to technology and internet prior to the pandemic, the digital divide became a huge problem for families and students. To give all children a better future, we must push for equitable funding across schools in San Jose and close tax loopholes that allow corporations to not pay their fair share.

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

    My approach to the budget process is about long term investment in the health of our community. As I evaluate budget priorities, I want to make sure we are being proactive not reactionary like we have the last few decades. This may mean putting funding into areas that may not be the "traditional" city responsibilities. San Jose can help fund healthcare initiatives, educational opportunities and small business growth that develops a more sustainable, resilient community. It also means being equitable with our city budget ensuring, our traditionally marginalized communities are seeing the increased investment they need to be successful.

  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?

    Myself, along with a number of other local candidates, elected officials and community leaders have called on San Jose to implement universal free childcare. Not only is this the best thing for our children when 50% are not prepared to start school (with a stark divide by race), but will also start to boost our local economy by putting caregivers back to work and actually expanding the care-giving industry which has huge return on investment for our community when we take a 10 and 20 year scope. We can make this happen by adding incentives and expanding capabilities of in-home childcare facilities and providing start up grants for new facilities.

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

    Our public schools are struggling to keep class sizes under control and desperately need great teachers that cannot afford our city. Lack of funding has unfortunately meant cutting additional services that children with special needs utilize to reach their potential. I will advocate at all levels for increased funding to our schools and push for housing options that let us retain our amazing teachers in our city. I will also push for living wages for families, creating a more prosperous home life that improves educational outcomes and can often allow parents more time to be supportive of students.

  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?

    Living wages and taking on unequal pay in the workplace. We need to pressure planning to ensure all our neighborhoods get access to affordable healthy food. Universal Childcare will prepare everyone for school and invest in after school programs at our community centers to provide tutoring, etc. By designing socioeconomic diverse communities, we can open up avenues for success. This means an end to our displacement and gentrification models of housing construction and a focus on community colleges and trade schools for both children and adults to provide affordable opportunities for upward economic mobility. As we go through these processes, focus has to be on our communities of color.