Economic Vitality, Housing, Public Health, and Social Equity are issues that need to be addressed now more than ever.
While I don’t propose simple solutions to these challenging problems, I know that my lifelong career in public health, social work and community building will contribute to our city creating solutions. Solutions that will build a future in which all Santa Cruz residents live with equity and dignity.
Here are some of my core beliefs and proposed solutions:
The COVID-19 pandemic is having significant economic impacts on community members, non-profits, and local businesses. I have experienced this first hand as my husband and I are both small business owners. My husband had to shut down his Integrative Bodywork Clinic to keep our community and our family safe. As your city councilmember, I will listen to the needs of displaced workers, nonprofits and local businesses. I will continue to work towards securing capital from the federal government and through partnerships with our local financial institutions, and I will be open to innovative ideas to help us get through this crisis. As we continue to weather the phases of this evolving pandemic, economic vitality and public health must work hand in hand to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community.
Housing, as a public health and social equity issue, is truly at the core of my campaign. By increasing affordable housing we will impact our community well-being and allow our teachers, fire fighters and youth transitioning out of foster care a place to live in the community that they call home. As your city councilmember, I will focus on policies and programs that increase the housing stock without impacting quality of life or the natural environment. We can do this in creative ways including mixed-use developments that allow for walkable communities, partnerships with the University, and strengthening the use of vouchers for our landlord partners.
Public Health and Equitable Covid-19 Recovery
Public Health will be at the forefront of all policy and program decisions in the coming years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our city will be providing essential city resources such as managing waste water, providing clean water, and picking up refuse, while figuring out how much and how to safely meet other community needs such as parks and recreation programs for children and families. As our city navigates these essential city needs, we must ensure the safety of all community members by implementing recommendations of public health officials including face coverings and social distancing. We must also support populations who are at higher risk of contracting and suffering from the disease. While we are responding to these immediate needs, we must also look to building health and wellbeing for our city’s future. As your city councilmember, I will use the Health in All Policies framework, which I helped our city develop and implement in the last year, as a framework to help us make decisions. Health in All Policies is an approach to policy making that integrates health, equity and sustainability considerations across sectors.
My years of working on homelessness here in Santa Cruz have shown me that adopting and implementing evidence-based approaches generates positive outcomes such as less people on the streets, more people housed and employed. We cannot and should not do it alone. We must work with our county partners and service providers to address this issue that is present through-out our county and beyond. As your city councilmember, I will focus on programs and policies that are research-based and that focus on upstream prevention approaches. These include, Housing First approach, navigation centers, supporting transition age youth (18-24), increasing rental assistance, and working across our county to implement county-wide solutions and programs.
The movement for racial justice has exposed the systemic racial injustices throughout our country and here in our community. As an immigrant and woman of color, I stand in solidarity with the global uprising to declare that Black Lives Matter and to end the centuries of racism embedded in this country and beyond. As your city councilmember, I commit to actively reflecting on my own patterns of privilege and oppression. I will work with our local law enforcement to continue exploring what systems and policies present barriers for black and people of color and how we may invest in alternative programs such as social service and prevention. As your city councilmember, I commit to partnering with others to dismantle racism and oppression of any form, and amplify community-led solutions.
As we think about climate protection, it will be important to demonstrate a strong nexus between COVID recovery, fire recovery and climate action. Our city can explore solutions that are interconnected including building out a green economy that generates well paying green businesses and jobs. As we pursue new projects, we can include green infrastructure as part of our plans and invest in innovative strategies. As we build out our Climate Action Plan over the next year, it will be critical to engage the community, including finding authentic and inclusive methods of outreach to those who are typically underrepresented, so that our efforts are community informed and relevant to our needs.
How will I accomplish these commitments through:
- Listening to ALL community members so that together we can build a future in which all Santa Cruz residents live with equity and dignity.
- Promoting the use and implementation of Health in all Policies in policy and program decision making.
- Creating a space for youth and young adult leadership and voice to be uplifted to help us rebuild our community.
- Activating cross-county partnerships to leverage resources.
- Exploring ways to diversify city funding.
“For the last few years, I have had the good fortune of working collaboratively with Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson on a number of local issues, both as an elected official and as a member of the Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust. Shebreh is the visionary leader that first introduced and then taught me the concepts of Health in All Policies, Collective Impact, and the importance of putting equity at the center of all our work. I am grateful for her contributions to our community and I am certain she will tirelessly work to elevate and uplift the entire community of Santa Cruz. Shebreh has shown me time and time again that her heart is always in the right place.”Francisco Estrada – Councilmember and Former Mayor, City of Watsonville