Trained as a facilitator, I’m comfortable listening to people of different perspectives while ensuring everyone’s humanity is recognized and respected. In both my personal and professional life, I consciously cultivate a diverse community. I value learning from those with different experiences and backgrounds. It’s made my life more fulfilling.

Yet social equality is about so much more than that. It’s about the responsibility I have to do what is right and use my position in society to help others. As a heterosexual white man, I recognize my privilege, my resulting blind spots, and my responsibility to be an ally in amplifying the voices of underserved communities. 

While I will never fully understand the lived experiences of other people, I do understand some of our society’s systems reinforce racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other types of systemic prejudice, discrimination, and oppression. I am aware that both my actions and inactions can impact these conditions.

Community Engagement
Representation
LGBTQ+ Equity
Silicon Valley African American Cultural Center
Safety & Well-Being of Women

Details

Community Engagement: In local government, you can’t have social equality if you don’t communicate with everybody. However, the government’s process for involving the community in its decisions is broken. Community meetings tend to be a challenge to attend and often the conversation is full of anger and division as people vent their frustrations rather than brainstorm solutions. High barriers and limitations result in the same few people participating (and sometimes dominating) over and over again.

The city’s community engagement policy, 6-30 hasn’t been updated in nearly 20 years (since before social media even existed)! San Jose needs a policy that:

  1. Invites everyone to the table. 
  2. Makes people feel welcome when they’re at the table. 
  3. Encourages stakeholders to constructively collaborate with others 
  4. Explains to the community how their input impacts decisions. 

When the community is involved and invested, new development can increase neighborhood pride and trust in decision-makers. We can achieve that by revising policy 6-30 in these ways:

  • Improve access to the right information to create a space for people with a broader range of experiences to participate
  • Limit government jargon in public resources, making it easier to understand what’s being asked of you at public meetings
  • Inform residents of the larger process they are participating in
  • Provide food and childcare at community meetings
  • Ensure translation and interpretation for those who don’t speak English well 
  • Communicate back to the public what the government learned from community input and how it impacted government decisions
  • Require all city departments to implement the revised community engagement policy

 

Representation: I will seek to elevate the status of people of all different backgrounds in my office and this community so that a greater diversity of San Jose residents are heard and considered in decision-making processes. I will: 

  • Advocate for 100% publicly funded campaigns and ranked-choice voting to diminish the role of money in politics and allow more opportunities for traditionally underrepresented people to lead in our democracy
  • Explore concepts like Seattle’s Democracy Vouchers and Oakland’s Democracy Dollars to encourage and enable more people to participate in city elections 
  • Enable more undocumented San Jose residents – say those who pay taxes – to vote in city elections. I support the additional costs associated with this change 
  • Deliberately increase representation of people with a range of lived experiences on local boards, commissions, and advisory committees, as well as my own council staff
  • As I do now, continue to promote and mentor young leaders in and outside government 
  • Assign staff in my office to be liaisons to organizations and community leaders representing specific communities including cultural and ethnic groups, the unhoused, veterans, LGBTQ+ folks, disabled people, seniors, youth, & transitional-age youth
  • Continue my work with SJSU, SPUR, and SOMOS Mayfair to propose a city program that provides training and leadership development to community leaders of color on issues like planning, community engagement, city government, equity, and transportation
  • Increase efforts to recruit more women, Latinos, Asians, and LGBTQ folks to San Jose’s Police and Fire Departments to diversify emergency responders so they further represent the community they serve

 

LGBTQ+ Equity:  As an outspoken ally since 2002, I feel a great sense of kinship with and responsibility to the LGBTQ community. I have consistently exhibited a concrete, unwavering commitment to serving this community. In my role as a city councilmember for San José, I commit to specific efforts to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals: 

  • Back Eden Housing’s proposal in Downtown San Jose to build housing geared toward LGBTQ seniors with offices for LGBTQ-serving organizations
  • Advocate for affordable housing projects inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals and partnerships with organizations that provide housing assistance and support services to LGBTQ+ people facing homelessness or housing insecurity
  • Ensure the City continues to support the Billy deFrank LGBTQ+ Center in my District 

 

Silicon Valley African American Cultural Center: I strongly support bringing the Silicon Valley African American Cultural Center to its proposed site on The Alameda in my District. This mixed-use development will include housing, health services, and a cultural center community center focused on serving the African American community. I will work with the neighbors to ensure this project is a win-win and pursue funding opportunities to ensure it gets built.

African American homeownership has plummed in SCC from 40% to 26% in last 21 years while San Jose has lost 17% of its black population in the last 30 years. We must build this project as part of sending a stronger, more welcoming message: black folks have been a key part of our community for generations and must remain for many more.

 

Safety & Well-Being of Women: Women face challenges in society that I, as a cisgender man, will never fully understand. By listening to others and following the lead of women around me, I hope to do my part in actively improving the status and experience of women and girls in San Jose. I have learned, and continue to learn, about how issues like housing, public safety, transportation, and economic opportunity specifically impact women and girls. I will support:

  • As part of police responses to domestic violence calls, including nonprofits that serve survivors (like YWCA) to arrive on-site to assess the risk to victims and offer resources
  • Funding and resources for local organizations serving those facing gender-based harassment or violence support
  • Training for city department heads on the effects of menopause & policies to protect women experiencing menopause from recrimination or being passed over for opportunities 
  • A complimentary healthy snack bar for pregnant women at City Hall because evidence shows the long-term health of children is negatively impacted by mothers skipping meals while pregnant