My first priority is helping our families safely navigate these times. The pandemic is disrupting many things about our community. The mental and physical health of children has been a priority for me and will continue to be my priority once I'm elected Mayor
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) Housing costs, 2) transit limitations, and the 3) uncertainties of unjust economic demands placed on "essential workers" are pushing at-risk families up to and over the brink of homelessness. The number of children served at the year-round homeless shelter has greatly expanded and more and more families with children are finding themselves on the street. I am working with our County and with leaders throughout the state to rethink how we provide services to unhoused families while also pursuing bold measures to increase production of supportive housing. I will continue working with regional leaders to provide free or reduced-cost transit and shuttles, and adding renter protections like just-cause evictions and worker protections like job retention policies that help parents stay housed and keep children sheltered.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
Cities have limited means to fund housing and transit, especially in areas with high land prices. Help from the state legislature by restoring property tax-based financing mechanisms. Also, measures allow voters to lower the approval threshold from two-thirds to 55 percent for local general obligation bonds, sales taxes, or parcel taxes could let more cities invest in affordable housing and infrastructure. This would widen and strengthen cities' options for funding affordable housing programs.
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?
With COVID, many families are being pushed into homelessness. As part of our coordinated response to the crisis of homelessness, Cities have an opportunity to respond to real needs by helping parents with safe, city-run day care. The crisis has been horrible for many families, and as Mayor, I will seize the opportunity to provide support for our most vulnerable residents: working parents with kids. By prioritizing day care now in crisis, we will be better positioned to continue these efforts once the crises start to ease. As Mayor, I will expand our preschool, reading and tutoring services at Columbia Neighborhood Center into other areas like Lakewood with the new Lakewood Branch Library.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
I supported building an accessible Magical Bridge playgrounds in Sunnyvale. Thanks to my advocacy, the new pool at Washington Park will have a zero entry. I fully support the City in building the Charles Street project that will provide much-needed housing for physically and developmentally disabled residents. By adding physically accessible structures and amenities, we can improve City programs for accessibility - to ensure no one gets left out. I recently recovered from a broken hip, and will not forget anytime soon how hard it was to get around the city. This has shown me on a day to day level, how much more we can do in our city, and how much more I can do to lead this charge as Mayor.
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 worked to address this gap through the “Our Kids, Our Community” program in Sunnyvale, which provides free meals for any child up to age 18 during school breaks. The City is working to provide a variety of cultural events. The City can integrate history and learning to enrich the lives of students through expanded library and community services. All children should have the opportunity to learn about and respect different cultures. The City partners with social service agencies like Sunnyvale Community Services and can leverage these relationships to expand opportunities, including activities such as this year’s Winter Ice Rink and sponsoring a skating session with low-income children.