California State Senate, District 10
As a working mom raising two children, I am a champion for working families and students. I advocated for equitable access to educational programs, healthcare resources, focusing on closing the digital divide and delivering mental health services - I will continue this as your next senator.
In a recent poll by Choose Children 2022 of likely general election voters, more than half of parents with children under age 18 say they are likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years. What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how will you make our region a place where all families can thrive?
Top 3 issues: affordable housing, health care & education.
Affordability challenges include those burdened by student debt and working families facing hurdles to find affordable rentals or home ownership. As Mayor I worked to increase housing inventory building record numbers of affordable housing and during pandemic by delivering rental assistance.
For health care, our city delivered testing and vaccination regardless of insurance, income status and place of residency as it was critical for all to have access to quality, affordable and health care.
To increase educational opportunities, I would work to support delivery of programs focusing on addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As we have learned over the past three years, without quality, affordable, childcare, parents can’t go to work. What will you do to address challenges accessing childcare and preschool programs in our diverse communities?
The pandemic made it difficult for young families to find quality, affordable childcare. Our local school district was an early adopter in implementing transitional kindergarten programs as working families struggle with preschool affordability. As a legislator, I would study policies to offset the costs for low to moderate income families so that both parents are able to work. To address staffing challenges for childcare centers, implementing internships with college tuition credits could foster increased workforce and implementing incentives for affordable and workforce housing would allow the childcare providers more options to live in the cities in which they work.
Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the opportunity gap that children in low-income families and children of color confront (e.g., lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors, and enrichment activities). If elected, what will you do to increase equity of opportunity?
As a former School Board member, I studied both the student achievement challenges and correlating opportunity gaps. By implementing supportive human services programs with counties, school districts and municipalities we could provide more meal programs focused on addressing food insecurity, create greater partnerships with cities and nonprofits to have free enrichment and wellness activities where children already gather such as creating makerspaces in local libraries or community centers/ in person and online tutoring resources. By working with local housing shelters to provide textbook and tutoring resources this could better support the challenges of our vulnerable students.
What steps will you take to support inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities and their families to be fully included in our community?
I have worked closely with many local special needs organizations; one such nonprofit is Friends of Children with Special Needs. There are multitude of challenges and supportive services these families need. Our school district is part of a special education local plan area working on regional services. I will continue to advocate for special needs families to have access to like organizations and the services they provide. Our city recently held our first annual Disability Resource Festival as an opportunity to connect with public safety-first responders. The goal was to enable special needs families to create better understanding, positive experiences and connect with more local resources.
There is a mental health crisis among children, youth, and those who care for and educate them. If elected, how will you use the resources of your new role to improve access to mental and behavioral health services?
As a parent, PTA volunteer, school board trustee and now as Mayor, I encouraged youth to be empowered in addressing the need for mental and behavioral health services. With our annual mental health art competitions, our youth express messaging through art, poetry, video, dance, and photography. Our youth have led mental health summits where they gathered medical professionals and industry experts to highlight best practices and even created healthcare apps. As Senator, I would create policies to deliver and further connect these mental and behavioral healthcare organizations and work to improve these services including crafting bills that enhance development for these services.