Providing prudent financial planning and budget management to the town
It is no secret that our town faces financial difficulties. Due to a long history of underfunding our town's pension liabilities, we face a structural deficit as a town. The Town of Los Gatos has reined in spending on pensions, but we still must deal with the financial shortfall past spending has created. I dealt with unfunded liabilities while providing financial oversight to the $350 million Cal Poly endowment. I'm confident I can do the same for Los Gatos.
In general, there are two ways to address a budget deficit: raising taxes or cutting services. If I am elected to the Los Gatos Town Council, I will do everything in my power to first avoid, then mitigate the impact of either of these scenarios. I am eager to work on a third option. Because of my many connections with our state and federal legislators, I believe we can secure substantial funding to help supplement our existing budget and avoid serious adverse financial consequences. Like other sitting Councilmembers, I am also interested in a thorough financial analysis of our budget to see where we can cut spending without cutting services.
Helping small businesses in town recover from COVID
As a former board member of the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce, I understand well the struggles our local businesses are facing. Our businesses have serious staffing issues, have been shut down multiple times throughout the pandemic, and have to pay skyrocketing costs. I am committed to supporting these businesses, both through dollars and policy, to get them through these difficult times. A thriving downtown and business community benefits our entire town.
One simple way to help future businesses is to cut existing red tape. For some, our building and planning processes work well. But for others, the onerous process becomes cost prohibitive and kills projects that would have benefitted our town. Eliminating unnecessary fees and processes will help our businesses thrive.
Ensuring all members of our community feel safe and included
I believe it is integral that all people, no matter who they are, should feel that they are respected and included in our town. This includes older adults, women, black and brown folks, individuals who identify as LGBTQ, religious groups, and so many more. During the past several years, each of these groups has been targeted for their identity and I find that completely unacceptable.
Older adults hold a special place in our community. Yet, our 60+ residents are a group that is often left out of the conversation. I am constantly learning from the wisdom of those who have come before me. A few priorities specifically to support our older adults are revamping the Adult Recreation Center, allowing folks to age in place with dignity, and creating systems that prioritize accessibility.
Last year, I helped lead Los Gatos United Against Hate March. I also organized dozens of Los Gatos community members to show up to Town Council meetings when agitators began harassing our Mayor and Town Council. When I spoke before the thousands of folks who gathered for the United Against Hate March, I said that “to ensure that we achieve our shared vision for the future of Los Gatos, we must stay connected. We must stay connected in order to support each other in this movement and remain vigilant against hate- because this fight does not stop here.” I believe this campaign is a continuation of the work from that day.
Building stronger, more connected neighborhoods
When I grew up in Los Gatos, we had block parties on my street throughout the summer, my friends and I walked and biked to local parks, and neighbors spent time with their neighbors. I see much less of this today and I want to bring this sort of community back to Los Gatos. Events like the summer Promenades, Jazz on the Plazz, and Music in the Park are excellent examples of how we are beginning to move back in this direction. We need to continue to build stronger relationships in our neighborhoods. To accomplish this, I will advocate for developing more community amenities and safer, slower neighborhood streets in town.
Providing robust public safety in Los Gatos
Los Gatos has strived to be a model of community policing for decades. I am committed to continuing a community-oriented police force. However, there is always room for improvement, which is why I am pushing for hiring one full-time homelessness case manager and one full-time social worker for our police department. There are many police calls that warrant an empathetic ear more than they warrant a badge and a gun. Our police force is overburdened with responsibilities that take away from their ability to address real crime. I think this shift in policing will allow our sworn officers to spend more time dealing with the break-ins and robberies that happen far too often in our town.
We also need to support our existing police department. Our police have difficult jobs and need adequate resources to keep our community safe. For example, our police department has been understaffed dispatchers. We need to prioritize the hiring of additional police dispatchers and look deep into the town budget to explore paying these dispatchers more competitive salaries.
Promote government transparency, efficiency, accessibility, and partnership
While our town pays attention to openness and efficiency, there is room for improvement. I am particularly interested in improving online accessibility. Since the start of the pandemic, Los Gatos has ramped up its use of online systems, including the town website, social media, and email distribution. These tools are incredibly important for community engagement, safety, and accessibility, and need to be improved. We have also seen many of our senior staff at the town leave for a variety of reasons. To have a functional, effective government, it is vital that these important positions are filled. I would prioritize filling these vacancies with qualified professionals.
As anyone who has gone through the permitting process knows, there can be significant red tape that slows down projects. This is burdensome for all parties, including the town, individuals, and businesses. Eliminating unnecessary processes will help improve overall town efficiency. I am also interested in partnering with other groups and jurisiduications such as our excellent local school districts. While the town does not wade into matters of education, I feel that we could be doing more to work together to address issues in town, especially issues for our youth. When I was a substitute teacher, I gained a greater appreciation of just how difficult things have been for educators since COVID, and I am eager to do more to support our schools. I am also excited to build partnerships with local nonprofits, businesses, and other municipalities.