Cotati is a beautifully diverse city full of smart, passionate, talented people who are enthusiastic about making our community and our world better. Our local government should harness this energy by proactively engaging the public in guiding its priorities and making decisions.
Government works best when every voice is included and valued right from the start. Too often residents and stakeholders in Sonoma County can be left feeling that by the time they hear about an issue, a decision has already been made. I want all people in Cotati to feel a sense of ownership and membership in our government.
As a city council member, my top priorities will be to actively reach out to the community, to ensure that residents and small business owners have a clear and easy way to engage meaningfully in decisions large and small, and to make sure that marginalized and underrepresented voices are heard loud and clear.
A recent survey conducted by Cotati Organized Against Racism after the murder of George Floyd found that people of color in Cotati were three times more likely than white people to say that they do not feel safe in Cotati. They were also much more likely to report negative experiences with the police, racist interactions within the community, and racial profiling. LGBTQ residents and people with disabilities have also faced prejudice and harassment. We need to create an inclusive, diverse committee that includes people of color, and immediately start working to make sure that everyone feels safe in our community. Our police force has worked hard to enact community policing principles and connect with residents, but we urgently need to do much more. I will fight to create effective civilian police oversight, revise problematic police policies, and increase funding for mental health services and unarmed crisis response teams to take some of the pressure off our police force.
We are now many years into an ongoing housing emergency. As a community college teacher, I constantly hear stories about how my students are struggling to make ends meet in Sonoma County. I watch with sadness year after year as many of the best and brightest have to leave the area due to the high cost of housing. As crisis piles on crisis, more and more people are forced into homelessness. Meanwhile, every day I marvel at giant single-family homes going up in Cotati that almost no one will ever be able to afford in their lifetimes.
Cotati needs many more attainable homes, more affordable housing, and higher-density housing in walking distance to downtown and near transit. We need to protect our environment and the climate by building densely within city limits and preventing sprawl. I will work tirelessly to build more affordable housing and encourage developments that work for the residents of Cotati.
The local businesses in Cotati are what make it so quirky and special - they are the heart and soul of our community. This year has been an unmitigated disaster for many small businesses, and I want to do everything in my power to support business owners through this crisis. As a city council member I would move swiftly to identify and enact ways to support small businesses and bridge the gap until we have a vaccine.