This is historic and changes everything.
Now that the counts have been finalized (for the most part) we can all breathe a sigh of relief and claim the victory we so very much deserve. It has been a long and exciting month while our awesome Elections Department did their thing. This is a cause for a celebration, a cause for joyous merriment and a cause for us to double down our efforts to create a strategy to bring Santa Cruz back from the brink of what one of my friends calls “Carmalization” (or becoming like Carmel/San Jose). But before anything else THANK YOU!
As you may know, my path to City Council started in 2016 when community members (maybe you) encouraged me to think about running. It was something I never thought I would do, but the support and motivation that you showed then made me know it was the right decision. That first time around we did the traditional thing and raised about $22,000. We printed mailers, we purchased yard signs and we fundraised like crazy. It was a great run, but with my mom’s death in October of 2016 and my need to be with her in Washington State we came within 500 votes of victory. Your support then, even in defeat showed me how much resilience exists within the progressive movement and that is what encouraged me to try again.
This time, we decided to take a different approach. We started planning in August of 2017, a year ahead of the competition. Through meetings and emails and conference calls we established a foundation. We built a team of motivated, dedicated people who were passionate about seeing progressive voices guide the council. We raised around $7,000 and then had an epiphany (thanks to David B.). We asked ourselves, “What if we do things differently?”. What if we didn’t need to raise tens of thousands of dollars? What if we didn’t have to print 10s-of-thousands of mailers, posters, fliers and junk to end up in our environment? What if we up-cycled materials to make our own yard signs instead of printing new ones and putting that much more plastic into our ecosystem. What if the power of community could overcome the power of money?
When we announced the switch we were met with mixed reactions. Some thought it was innovative, creative and righteous. Others thought it was foolish, idealistic and a great way to lose a campaign. Many times I was pressured to change the strategy, accept as much money as possible, print as much as possible, send out the mailers. With the support of a dedicated team I refused on the basis of principle, and the end result? We did it. We beat the machine, we overcame the power of money and we now have voices who represent the values of a progressive Santa Cruz. To put it in context to show just how powerful this is… we spent around a total of $13,000. The 4th place contender, who I lead by 700 votes, spent $50,000. Think of how that money could have been better spent. Think about what could have been done to benefit our community. These are the questions our elected officials should be asking themselves with the money we already have to find better, more effective ways to use it. Most of all, this outcome is an example of the power of innovation and the power of people when we come together with a common goal of representation, equity and sustainability.
This victory was only possible because of the support of the community. This was possible because of you. THANK YOU. Maybe you took a lead role in the planning process or the campaign team. THANK YOU. Maybe you sat at a table at the Farmer’s Market. THANK YOU. Maybe you walked neighborhoods, knocking on doors and talking to community members. THANK YOU. Maybe you help with social media posts, or wrote press releases or helped with video production.THANK YOU. Maybe you were a guest on my podcast, or you shared our content, or maybe you donated your creative skill. THANK YOU. Maybe you helped us paint signs or create silkscreens. THANK YOU. Maybe work on campus to help us reach students. THANK YOU. Maybe you are a student club that endorsed the campaign and helped to spread the message. THANK YOU. Maybe you spoke about me with a friend and inspired them to vote when they weren’t planning to. THANK YOU. Maybe all you did was vote. THANK YOU.
Now the real work starts. Like I said when I was on the campaign trail, just because I am an elected official doesn’t change the fact that I am a community organizer. So, while I needed your support during the race, I need your support in making sure the will of the people is represented in local government. I need you suggestions, ideas and energy to come up and implement creative solutions to the problems we see around us. But just as importantly, I need your help to reunite the Santa Cruz community. As a people we are fractured. From disagreements about housing, transportation, rental regulations and more we need to come together and have honest, respectful conversations about how we can overcome the hardships we face today, and prepare for what the future holds.
It won’t happen overnight, but the first step is acknowledging that there is work to be done and dedicating ourselves to it. I work in the field of conflict reconciliation from the perspective and philosophy of Dr. King. Through this lens conflict is not a bad thing that should be avoided. On the contrary, conflict and disagreements open up the possibility to learn, grow and build together. It offers the potential to strengthen relationships instead of destroying them. This is our chance to make a real impact. This is a chance to have the hard conversations, identify the difficult truths of our community and move forward into a more representative, inclusive and sustainable community that works for everyone. Dr. King called in “building the beloved community”. So, I invite you to join me so we can build the beloved community together.
This victory is for all of us.
Read on to learn more about what I plan to bring to the Santa Cruz city council.