Priority 5: A City for All of Us Means More Shared Prosperity

The median income for a single person in our County in 2023 is $126,900! That means some people are doing quite well here, which is great. Yet so many people in our community are barely scraping by. As prosperous as San Jose is, in recent years, research shows it has become one of the most unequal places in the nation. When so many people have so little, it’s bad for all of us. It rips apart the social harmony of our community. Moreover, government policies are set up so that it makes it hard for everyone to prosper. I believe this is causing many of our city’s challenges. A key way to build a community for all of us is to make sure we share the prosperity of this wonderful place that has allowed so many of us to thrive. It will make life better for all of us. 

Pillar 1: Economic Fairness
Pillar 2: Social Equality & Access 
Pillar 3: Housing Affordability

Pillar 1: Economic Fairness

My approach as an elected official will be to create policies and programs that meet the needs of working people, middle-class families, and small businesses. I support policies that promote economic development and job creation to provide opportunities for a more equitable and prosperous San José for all its residents.

A Living Wage
Labor Conditions & Unions
City Staff
Business Tax
Encourage & Support Small Businesses
Berryessa Flea Market
Childcare

A Living Wage: It’s especially hard to survive in San Jose earning minimum wage. And yet, these workers are essential to our daily lives and businesses; they keep our economy functioning. Fair wages are valuable to everyone because: 

  • Businesses can attract and retain better workers that feel respected
  • Recruiting and training new workers can be a greater hardship than keeping existing ones
  • Ensuring employees can stay in our community working means businesses can too 

San Jose can address this hardship by increasing our city’s minimum wage. I propose implementing this increase to $25 per hour incrementally by January 2027. I propose we:

  • Work with other cities in the Bay Area to implement a similar wage and timeline so it is standard across the region and doesn’t disadvantage San José businesses, similar to the way Mayor Liccardo worked to implement rises
  • Continue to index the minimum wage so it can rise as inflation rises
  • Stay open to certain exceptions to the wage (like high school-age workers who aren’t financially independent)

While this will be a step in the right direction, it is necessary to keep in mind that $25 per hour is only $52,000 per year (before taxes). That’s still not very much to live in a place as expensive as San José.

 

Labor Conditions & Unions: Workers deserve fair wages, safe working conditions, stabilizing benefits, and a voice in their workplace. Unionizing is a critical tool to achieve these rights. Unions not only improve work conditions for their members, but they help to set the standards by which other employers also abide and protect workers from mistreatment. I aim to  support labor by:

  • Always standing with workers if they are not being fairly compensated or if they are forced into unfair or unsafe working conditions
  • Never crossing picket lines.
  • Advocating for and support policies that strengthen workers' rights and promote sectoral bargaining
  • Using my platform to publicly call out and challenge any business that engages in anti-worker practices. 

 

City Staff: San Jose deserves the best workforce around. That means we must attract and keep top talent by creating a well-paid workforce that feels respected by their leaders. One reason we have so many vacant positions at City Hall in multiple departments right now is that our employees can make more money (often for less work) in smaller cities next door to San Jose. To attract and retain the quality and number of employees we need to provide city services, we’re going to need to pay some of our city staff more.

 

Business Tax: Silicon Valley is the greatest concentration of wealth in human history. Big businesses are thriving here. We need them to pay their fair share (especially if they are avoiding other taxes through loopholes). Eight years ago, San Jose voters approved a revised business tax. As other Silicon Valley cities did in 2022, I support increasing San Jose’s business tax in 2026, in collaboration with the business-focused organizations like the San Jose Chamber of Commerce and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

 

Encourage & Support Small Businesses: Small, local businesses should be at the core of San Jose’s economy. They deserve top-notch customer service from city staff and their elected representatives. I’ll support the City going to great lengths to help small businesses grow as they revitalize our neighborhoods. I will always talk to small business owners dealing with city processes to collaborate on how we can make them work efficiently. More of my small business plans can be found in Priority 4: Growing & Celebrating. Some highlights include:

  • Push the City and developers to include active uses on the ground floor of new developments to benefit the broader neighborhood. These community amenities could include spaces for small businesses like retail, restaurants, coffee shops, and childcare.
  • Make it easier for individuals to make a living running businesses out of their homes, building off of lessons we learned from the pandemic.
  • Reduce taxes for a set period for property owners that give lease agreements to locally-owned businesses and/or bring back businesses at risk of being displaced. 
  • Hire a Small Business Specialist in my office to collaborate closely with small business owners.

 

Berryessa Flea Market: I will continue my role in a coalition of organizations and individuals seeking to protect and prevent the displacement of hundreds of largely Latino and Asian Berryessa Flea Market vendors, who successfully secured a better deal for these businesses as this redevelopment unfolds. Through this work, I have been regularly speaking out against the displacement of communities of color. As this work continues, I support:

  • Finding a new site on city-owned land for the market to operate
  • San Jose giving that land to the operator of the market
  • Encouraging Flea Market Vendors themselves to become the collective operator
  • Increasing housing density next to VTA’s Berryessa Transit Center and a BART Station

 

Childcare: One estimate says childcare in our region costs $43,000 per child per year. Even Silicon Valley business associations agree these out-of-control costs aren’t sustainable. We need to move towards universal childcare. Working with the federal and state governments, I’ll propose increased access to affordable childcare in San Jose. My ideas include: 

  • Subsidized or free childcare for all city employees, ideally located near City Hall
  • Free childcare for residents working at least 10 hours a week making less than 30% of Area Median Income (AMI)
  • A pilot program for free childcare in city community centers in the three to ten San Jose zip codes with the fewest resources
  • Scholarships for local camps & after-school care for those making below 50% AMI
  • Advocate for childcare on the first floor of new developments, particularly in areas that are childcare deserts 
  • Policies that provide a better work-life balance for families, such as flexible work arrangements and parental leave.

Pillar 2: Social Equality & Access

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

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

Pillar 3: Housing Affordability

Tied to our economic and social inequality is the low quantity and high cost of housing. The system that people rely on for housing - whether it be home ownership, renting, or supportive housing - has faults that can reinforce systemic discrimination. According to the 2023 Point In Time report, Santa Clara County has approximately 9,903 people experiencing homelessness and a disproportionate percentage are people of color compared to the general population. 26% of the homeless population report that rent or mortgage assistance could have prevented their homelessness, and 57% say their primary barrier to permanent housing is that they cannot afford rent.

My full plan regarding the housing and homelessness crisis can be found under Priority 1. My plan consists of 6 pillars:

Pillar 1: Travel Upstream to Better Solve Problems
Pillar 2: Protect Vulnerable Renters
Pillar 3: Build More Housing, Especially Affordable Housing
Pillar 4: Guarantee Housing Benefits the Whole Community
Pillar 5: Assist Our Homeless Neighbors
Pillar 6: Measure Results to Ensure Accountability

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