Leaders we can trust with our future: Brown, Hill, Kuhl, Kumar.
In a recent Sentinel guest editorial, Santa Cruz United claims that the success of the March recall of two council members amplifies the wisdom of their endorsements in the current council race.
But the fact is that the recall campaign was a shameful act of deception. Camouflaged with accusations of misbehavior, the recall drive was fundamentally about greed. Nearly $200,000 was spent to acquire @13,000 yes votes (51% of the vote) required to enact the recall. A major source of the funding was real estate and developer interests, eager to build more luxury condos with exorbitant rents. And now, with a pro-real-estate council slate in hand, their hopes remain high.
The question is: Can a City run by the real estate industry put people and environmental concerns before profits?
Drive around town and see if you can find affordable housing. Palatial hotels are being constructed. Market rate condos—like the just-completed 1547 Pacific Avenue with rentals starting at $2300 for a studio—dominate downtown. Large projects with hundreds more units are pending approval— the vast majority within reach only of those earning over $100,000 a year. Santa Cruz has been dubbed Silicon Beach.
Nine women are running for four City Council seats, and most are faces new to us. After extensive consideration, Santa Cruz’s progressive organizations – including the Campaign for Sustainable Transportation, Santa Cruz for Bernie, People’s Democratic Club, Santa Cruz Progressive Alliance, Sierra Club, DSA Santa Cruz, Monterrey Bay Central Labor Council and local labor unions —endorsed Sandy Brown, Kelsey Hill, and Kayla Kumar. A fourth candidate has garnered favorable attention: Alicia Kuhl, Santa Cruz Homeless Union President, endorsed by the Sierra Club and Campaign for Sustainable Transportation.
Not backed by out of town developers or big money, these four are motivated by their commitment to sustainability and social justice. Strong, independent women, they will fight for low and moderate-income housing and compassionately advocate for stable living situations and services for our homeless. Mitigating the climate catastrophe will inform their every decision, as evidenced by their opposition to replacing our farmer’s market with a 5-story parking garage and the widening of highways. They are committed to implementing the recently-mandated 20% inclusionary units in every new building project, providing renter protections, and building living-wage jobs. They have the fortitude and ingenuity to design a sound, equitable post-pandemic, post-fire recovery.
I believe that local government should reflect community values. Vote Brown, Hill, Kumar and Kuhl,—trusted champions of people and planet over profits.
On her own since 15, Sandy landed in Santa Cruz and is a 30-year resident. While earning a doctorate in geography, she worked at Swanton Berry Farm, the first unionized organic strawberry farm in the country. She is a labor organizer and professor at SJSU and a seated council member tenaciously committed to social justice.
Born in Southern California to a working class, union-strong family, Kelsey has lived experience of the 2008 financial crisis – her parents losing their jobs and being evicted. She graduated with a degree in history at UCSC where she was editor of the school newspaper. A social media specialist, she is employed at the Romero Institute, a local law and policy center that litigates cases of structural injustice.
Alicia grew up in group and foster homes, yet had the fortitude to get a business degree and is studying toward a law degree. After losing her housing, she lives in an RV with her family and is employed as a social worker for San Jose’s Second Street Studios—permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless. President of the Homeless Union, she organized and manages a community-run Covid-19 Relief Center.
Previously employed at nationally acclaimed Barrios Unidos, Kayla is Development Director for Food What?!—an organization supporting marginalized youth. With a master’s degree in applied economics, she sits on the boards of Salud Para La Gente and Santa Cruz Community Ventures and serves on the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission.