What is being done to curb south county’s high unemployment rate, particularly during the hard winter months?
Currently, the county has been working with local businesses to determine an economic vitality strategy and to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the county by district. Recently, I hosted an economic meeting that had local businesses and leaders comment on what they thought should be done to stimulate our local economy.
At the September meeting, the attendees raised issues and suggested ideas. There were suggestions of facilitating home-based business and entrepreneurship in the unincorporated area. Others suggestions focused on tourism and the possibility of making farms more visitor and vacation friendly. Additionally, consideration was given to greater streamlining of fruit stands and direct-sale opportunities. Other suggestions concerned the expansion of retail for local residents. In addition, there were suggestions of expanded festivals and events that would bring money to the area.
As already noted by local economists, during the winter months there is higher unemployment because the agricultural cycle slows down. However, many retailers in the area also hire extra workers to handle increased volume in sales due to the holidays. Although this mitigation does not completely balance out the loss of jobs, it can help with unemployment. Fortunately, South County has a strong offering of adult education, online skills training at the library, and Cabrillo College classes and counseling. These educational resources have helped many people develop job training and ultimately gain employment. I am a strong advocate of increasing these services and have worked along with the Workforce Investment Board to create more and better opportunities.
You have confirmed that you will run for re-election in 2014. What will be your focus?
As I begin my campaign for re-election, I will continue to focus on all the issues that I have been working on from day one. One of my greatest joys has been to oversee great successes on the Pajaro River, including the first successful effort to remove soil from the river in decades. This project, along with the raising of the levees to their 1949 federally-designated levels, has vastly improved the flood security prospects for the many residents and businesses in the area and, like nearly all of our Planning and Public Works efforts, continues to be responsibly steward care for the environment.
Another major infrastructural concern is the condition of roads throughout the county. Better roads equal better business opportunities and better property values. A significant part of our county’s economic strategy and vitality efforts are geared toward such improvements and more sustainable transportation as a whole.
Another key issue is promoting the rights and opportunities of immigrants. I have been a strong supporter of assisting residency and citizenship pursuits and warding off potential discrimination, even when those actions have not been popular ones. I take great pride in fighting for working people and can attest to the hard-working nature of all of our residents, and, significantly, our county employees who are currently fighting for better work conditions. As demonstrated by my efforts to curtail excessive Board of Supervisors and department officials’ pay, it has always been my belief that elected officials should lead by example and I intend to continue to do so.
If elected, I intend to continue donating 25 percent of my salary to the community. Since I’ve been elected as 4th District Supervisor, I have donated to schools, battered women’s shelters, and the homeless to name a few. I will continue to support our community programs funding and ensure that we ably facilitate state and federal functions, such as the Affordable Care Act, to vigorously defend our safety net—at the end of the day, our community is priceless and is a big part of what makes our county so special.