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

Town of Los Gatos

Matthew Hudes

Preserve the beauty, character, history, and downtown that make Los Gatos special
Relieve pressures of traffic, housing, and affordability
Enhance safety
Create in-town opportunities for residents and small-businesses, as we emerge from Covid-19
Strengthen financial discipline and transparency

  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?

    1. Diversity and Support for Black and Minority Residents
    We’ve all heard the adage that diversity makes us stronger, and most of us agree. To be frank, Los Gatos is not very diverse and has not always been the most welcoming place to its Black and minority residents. That’s why I support structural changes as well as a focus on attitudes that start early and are stubbornly resistant to change. Some of the structural changes that can be made are to offer increased affordable housing, support for Black families and Black and minority-owned businesses, and more transparent policing.

    Attitudes are baked in early, and our children and young adults are impacted not only by things that start at home, but also occur unbounded in the schools. Something that starts as pre-judging, or a prejudice, evolves into bias and ultimately outright bigotry and racism. By addressing both the structural barriers as well as deep-seated attitudes, we can make Los Gatos stronger through diversity. I am committed, with my public service record, career, relationships, and drive to make Los Gatos a more welcoming and supportive place for all.

    2. Safety and Disaster Preparedness
    When it comes to community safety and preparing for the next disaster, we are already learning important lessons in the wake of COVID-19. At the Town level, this pandemic has underscored the critical nature of having a well-integrated emergency response system, that efficiently connects emergency communications, police and emergency response teams. This highlights the importance of my experience of the last 12 years, working with Emergency Communications, the Los Gatos Police Department, and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to improve communications in the face of unforeseen disaster challenges.
    As the planet warms, we also must prepare for new dangers, such as the increased likelihood of wildfires. Traffic through Town also poses safety challenges, which is why I will examine the effects of cut-through traffic on safety and quality of life. Safety and disaster preparedness are essential for the Town to thrive. I have the record and the relationships to ensure we are prepared for whatever comes our way.

    3. Post-Covid Economic Recovery and Revival
    The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the town economy in a big way. But Los Gatos is resilient. That’s why I’ve worked with over twenty food, retail, property, and tech leaders to get the conversation going—not only on reopening Downtown businesses—but also building for the future across the entire Town. Getting back to where we were isn’t enough. The Town should not only survive this pandemic, but thrive going forward.
    I am deeply concerned about the piecemeal and reactive approach to COVID recovery thus far. That is why I am calling on the Town Council to provide funding, a framework, clear measurable objectives, and oversight. Furthermore, we must quickly set up a Business Recovery Fund. I’ve called on the Town to immediately reallocate $1.9 million from the Town beautification budget to recovery for small businesses. But this likely will not be enough.
    Specifically, the Town should:
    find flexibility within existing funding sources;
    explore new funding sources via public-private partnerships, state and federal programs, and county budgets for essential services; and
    create transparency and community input via a Community Recovery Commission with the best retail, financial, and entrepreneurial minds in Town.

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

    Our budget process must address the needs of children and families and it need to start with strengthened financial management and transparency. As a partner at Ernst and Young and Deloitte for over 20 years, I helped large and small companies innovate their way toward success using solid financial fundamentals. I also started my own bioinformatics business in Town. I want to bring those same fiscal principles to the Los Gatos budget, which is in immediate need of some transparency.
    I believe that there are two fundamental concerns: Flexibility and Community Engagement. Given the COVID-driven financial uncertainty that could result in substantial revenue shortfalls, we should develop alternative budget scenarios in response to these possibilities. As an example, we could model three scenarios (which are linked to three potential trajectories of the virus): 1) Rebound, 2) Austerity, and 3) Hardship. Each scenario would contain revenue projections and project trade-offs that could be selected by the Council, if necessary.
    With heightened focus on flexibility and community engagement, we can get through this.

  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?

    As a town with 32,000+ residents, we have limited resources by which to enact sweeping changes in quality child care an preschool programs. However there are some things that we can immediately do. 1) Work more closely with the school districts to shape the programs in light of emerging from the Covid-19 environment. We need to re-think that way child care is provided as parents and caregivers re-emerge into the workplace as restrictions are lifted and school goes from on-line to hybrid to in-person. Also, we can be more vigilant about obtaining our "fair share" of County-provided social services and resources, including helping to expand regional child care services. Finally, we can recognize the need and provide more direct support for minority and English language learners. In my home, we sponsored over 20 non-English speaking refugees (mostly pre-teen and adolescent children) and helped them become proficient in English, and we should be doing this as a community.

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

    Having worked for 3 years at a special needs summer camp, I came to appreciate the unique and valuable attributes of these truly special children. We should not isolate or segregate them, but should fight for the resources for our schools and community organizations to help these children thrive. Santa Clara County is broad and deep in its capabilities to assist these children. However, as a small town (1/30th of the population of San Jose), we need to survey the needs of our residents and be more aggressive about getting access to these programs. That is the only way that we will be able to include these special children and improve their life outcomes.

  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?

    Although Los Gatos is small and limited in its ability to municipally fund programs, we can work with local agencies to bridge this opportunity gap. We cannot wait for children to go to school--this must start at home, with resources and opportunities for low-income families, especially when there are children of color involved. We can expand our community education program with skills for parents, siblings, as well as children. After all, Los Gatos is a relatively well-off economically, and we can and should devote more resources to healthy food, preschool and activities that help bridge the gap.