Hard work, civility, and cooperation built our amazing city of safe neighborhoods, great schools, and prosperous businesses. It wasn’t an accident.
I have been involved in our schools and community as an elected official and as an engaged member, being involved with local and regional boards and committees.
I am no stranger to making tough decisions during challenging times. I am a good listener and a very quick learner. I am very familiar with governance and how to work as a team for the best outcomes. Our community has been dealing with one crisis after another for years: fires, floods, a pandemic, school closures, business closures, mass power outages, etc. I am a problem solver by nature, and I enjoy working with people and hearing their ideas on how to make things work even better.
Santa Rosa has been devastated by wildfires in 2017 and in 2020. My family and I nearly lost our home in 2020 when the Glass Fire came to our backdoor and caused nearly $150,000 in damage to my home. I too have been part of the stressful evacuation that took place in 2020 and the panic and stress of leaving our home that night not knowing what we would return to. That is why support for our Fire Department is a top priority for me. Ensuring our men and women on the front lines of fire-fighting so that they have the most up-to-date equipment and use of technology will be a critical component to keeping us all safe. After attending their one day training I am even more committed to supporting all of our First Responders and investing in services and infrastructure to support safety. The Santa Rosa Fire Department has been working with our community to help prevent and prepare for the threat of future wildfires. We must all work together to ensure we are creating a more defensible and resilient community.
To see how you can better prepare for fire season please take a look at this resource.
Homelessness has been a major issue for the city for years. It impacts our quality of life, our businesses, and the health and safety of our community members. We need to focus on support for mental-health and substance abuse and support services for those that are faced with these circumstances. We need to ensure that we are modeling programs and reaching out to other cities who have tackled this issue well. As example the City is using the InResponse Mental Health Support Team, which is proving to be a wonderful example of prioritizing our budget to meet the needs of our community members that are struggling with Homelessness. Through this program, we have reduced the reliance on our police force to handle mental health calls and have sent a more appropriate, skilled mental health professional to help deal with non-violent mental health calls. I will support our continuance of these efforts.
Additionally, I want to ensure that the City works with local partners to increase housing particularly for community members who have suffered domestic abuse and have small children to care for. We have folks on the streets living in unimaginable circumstances, Veterans and families who have housing insecurity or are one pay check away from losing their home. This is not just about cleaning up the streets so we don’t have to see what is happening. This is about transforming and addressing the root causes of homelessness and then backing programs that are researched based with our dollars. The Governor has proposed additional dollars specifically to address homelessness in our communities, and this is an example of where my work at the State of CA can be useful to ensure that we are receiving and advocating for those dollars to be realized in Santa Rosa. My goal is to continue to connect homeless and unhoused residents & our most vulnerable citizens to important services and work to prove our neediest residents with opportunities to receive the help they so desperately need.
To find out what the City of Santa Rosa is doing now about our unhoused community please go here: https://srcity.org/691/Homelessness-Solutions
To find the list of encampments the city of monitoring please go here: https://ws.srcity.org/Encampments/pages/public/Encampments.aspx
Santa Rosa is now experiencing the effects of a climate crisis: hotter summers with
record-breaking temperatures, even more devastating fire seasons, and more extreme
droughts. Greenhouse gasses released by human activities, like landfilling food and yard waste, cause climate change. To respond to this climate crisis, California is implementing
statewide organic waste recycling and surplus food recovery. As Santa Rosa implements this program my goal is to ensure our community understands and supports our efforts to eliminate organic waste in our landfills.
As a sitting Councilmember of Climate Action Committee we meet monthly to work with partners to implement the City’s Climate Action Plan found here: https://srcity.org/DocumentCenter/View/10762/Climate-Action-Plan-PDF?bidId=
This document is what is guiding the work I do as a member of this committee.
Covid-19 Resources and Recovery: As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, we need to focus on what recovery will look like in Santa Rosa. The communication on the website and in our newsletters is great, and we must grow our use of social media and deliver our messages and get them out in multiple languages to all of our community members.
We have seen what has happened when schools have shut down- it impacts our economy, our ability to work and most importantly the mental-health, well-being and education of our children and youth. We must continue to encourage community members and our children to be vaccinated; this takes trust and ease of being able to schedule the appointments. We need to ensure that our migrant population and farmworkers have support to be tested and vaccinated. We need to meet community members where they are. Without a hard look at the loss of labor and workforce it will be harder for our community to recover.
We have lost workforce due to the fires, lack of housing, lack of child care, and the need for a higher living wage to support the cost of living in Sonoma County. These are all issues we had before but have now been exasperated by the pandemic. This will take a multi-prong approach, college and career readiness, workforce development, working with our incredible Santa Rosa Junior College, and of course our businesses. We have an opportunity because we know even more now what our community members are struggling with.
We have lost many small businesses during the pandemic. As an owner of a small business I understand the struggles everyone has had to deal with. When businesses fail the city and community are impacted. Over 33% of the city’s budget is based on our sales taxes and our retail and service businesses bring those resources into the community for us to support all of Santa Rosa’s community members. I currently meet with members of the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber and will continue to do so because partnership and open communication are critical to the success of our beloved City of Santa Rosa. I will also work hard to support and remove obstacles for businesses to be able to gain zoning, permits and licensing easier and quicker in our city.
The lack of affordable and mid-range housing in Santa Rosa has made it even more difficult for the next generation of families and our seniors who are living on a fixed income to live here. At our first goal setting meeting I heard from many members of our community from our mobile home parks about the need to reduce our Customer Price Index (CPI) of what we are charging to those living in our mobile home parks. I am proud that with continued advocacy of these community members and support from me and other council members we will be reviewing this issue this year and hope to have it addressed this fall.
I have first-hand experience on the impact that housing has created in my own family. As beginning teachers my oldest son and his wife had to move out of the area so they could afford to buy their first home because they could not find an affordable place to rent and certainly they would not qualify to buy a home. My middle son and his fiancé are currently trying to buy a home and have had no luck. We are losing our next generation of workforce because our county is in dire need to provide additional housing. The fires devastated thousands of homes but even prior to that we needed additional housing. Santa Rosa needs to focus on infill housing and transit-oriented projects near public transit. The downtown core is a prime area for development. Part the city’s new housing plan will also continue to look at plans throughout Santa Rosa that have housing developments near local shops and grocery stores so that you can eat and shop at your neighborhood stores without needed to drive across town. This model will further our work on reducing our carbon footprint when communities can walk, ride their bikes, or drive short distances to get the services they need.
The city has a new theme; core services and getting back to basics. This includes the need for the city to support the core services that we are responsible such as public safety and neighborhood vitality. This also includes maintaining our assets and investing in our roads and infrastructure. We must continue to invest in roads or the cost of the repairs that are needed will continue to rise and the cost to taxpayers will be astronomical. We must continue to make investments in proper bike lanes and pedestrian walkways to encourage other modes of transportation.
I am committed to investing in and maintaining our parks and our surrounding area. Having open spaces for our community to be able to enjoy is a critical part of having a healthy lifestyle. Our parks and where we live is unique with all that we have to offer: rivers, mountains, redwoods and incredible scenic background that supports agriculture, wineries, dairies and more. It is what makes Santa Rosa a beautiful place to live, to travel to and to have memorable events at. I am committed to maintaining our beautiful area and supporting our assets.
The vast majority of my policy and background is with schools and supporting and engaging parents to be advocates for their children. As the California State PTA President, and CEO I was responsible for the largest and oldest child advocacy association in the United States. As the leaders of this association we drafted and had legislation sponsored and sign by then CA Governor Jerry Brown to put into the Education Code what it means to have authentic family engagement in schools.
My goal as a current and future City Councilmember is to grow our relationships with the eleven Santa Rosa School Districts. As local legislators my goal is to bring our teams together to be able to work on the problems and concerns we have in our community impacting our youngest community members. We know during the pandemic the need for coordinated services and support was key and in education there are many factors that lead to positive outcomes for the success of children. To name a few housing and food security, access to mental health services and dental screenings. These are all areas that the city can partner with our local schools to make sure we are working together. We can also partner together on Safe Routes to School, ensuring that the city is aware and working to promote and help school s have safe walking and bike riding access to schools. Building relationships with our local Trustees for the best outcomes for children and our youth is one of the greatest investments we can make as a community.
During the pandemic we saw hundreds of our early care providers leave the industry. This has made a massive impact on our families being able to return to work and has impacted our local economy. More importantly it will make impact on the outcomes of our children. Our littlest learners in our community need to have high quality early care and access to quality care providers. When children have access to quality pre-school and early learning experiences they can start school ready to learn. Many children who do not have access start 2.5 years behind their peers who did have access to early learning. Santa Rosa needs to ensure that we are supporting all efforts to increase access to Early Childhood Education (ECE) and that we support facilities and businesses to house these programs. Sonoma County’s children have limited access to quality, affordable ECE and child care and nearly 50% are not kindergarten ready when entering school. As a city Councilmember I will work with all areas of this industry to support workforce development, higher wages for those entering the industry as providers and building homes that have access to child care families within subdivisions as we have seen done in other communities.