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

Town of Los Gatos

Heidi Owens

My three main priorities for the Town of Los Gatos are quality of life, safety and sustainability, and prudent financial management. Children and families will benefit from all three of these priority areas.

  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?

    The top three issues for children in families in Los Gatos are virtual schooling, social isolation, and lack of physical activity. I've been advocating with State leaders to allow for special education students to return for in-person instruction. Our schools and parents are doing the best they can with Zoom instruction, but it has been challenging. Increased testing is a priority, as is the development of a vaccine.

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

    Prudent financial management is one of my top three priorities. Los Gatos is coming through the Covid crisis better than surrounding cities for many reasons including conservative budgeting practices. The Town also has a higher percentage of revenues coming from grocery stores sales tax which increased during the beginning of the Covid crisis to offset lower revenues from other sources. I will review capital project funds to identify opportunities for reallocation. I'll vote no on any increased taxes to our residents.

  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?

    I support universal First Five education and will collaborate with County and State leaders to make that vision become a reality. In Los Gatos, we have an unusually high number of preschools and residents are generally (not universally) affluent enough to pay for preschool. I'll work to educate residents on available funding for lower income families to bridge the divide so they can send their kids to preschool.

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

    As the parent of a special needs child, I am acutely feeling the effects of the Covid crisis and distance learning in our family. My child has mild issues, so my heart goes out to those parents of children with severe learning problems. We absolutely must balance the public health risk with a very real risk of mental health crisis for both the children and their parents. Special needs children are difficult to care for as a parent, so adding 24x7 care and teaching responsibilities on parents is a horrible situation for everyone. We must allow small groups of special needs children to return to on-campus learning.

  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?

    Los Gatos is an affluent community, but even so, we have homeless children attending class our school district (Union Elementary). I'm very grateful to see our school districts stepping up to provide breakfast and lunch to students, no questions asked, during the Covid crisis. I've worked to bring young residnets of HomeFirst facilities to Los Gatos youth sports leagues, The main obstacle was not funding, as the leagues would provide fee waivers. We couldn't get students from Downtown San Jose to Los Gatos during the evening commute hours. Unfortunately, there aren't many youth sports leagues in the Downtown area and this is something we need to address. I'm also a supporter of Bay Area Womens Sportis Initiative (BAWSI) that brings sports camps to low income girls. InPlay is another important organization to bridge this gap and I spoke in favor of Supervisor Susan Ellenberg's funding request for that organization. I've helped register Los Gatos leagues with that organization.