As a resident in downtown San José since 1989, I have raised my family, run a small business, worked at the downtown locked mental health facility on Santa Clara Street and often walked to court from my home. I understand the importance of safe, clean neighborhoods for families who want their children to grow up healthy and for business owners to thrive. The conditions in our downtown neighborhoods impact all of us; as downtown residents, we’re in this together.
My core values come from my parents and their parents, Irish and Polish Catholics who immigrated to the United States for a better life. To make a living, my grandfather drove a taxi during the day and played the accordion at a local pub at night. Although my grandparents struggled to make a living, their sacrifices enabled my father to be the first in his family to go to college. Their lessons, their work ethic, and their sense of perseverance shaped me from an early age.
My father impressed upon me the importance of community participation. As a member of the community who benefits from access to grocery stores, paved roads, and good schools, I am learned to give back and pay it forward. Each of us can contribute as a volunteer and make improvements in our neighborhoods.
I started volunteering in the second grade, in my sister’s classroom. My sister Shery has Down Syndrome. Shery and I have both had the opportunity to be active in Special Olympics, she as an athlete, and I as a ‘hugger’. I learned so much growing up with Shery, especially that persistence gets results and a smile goes a long way.
With both my parents’ encouragement, I pursued my own education in accounting, law, and psychology; all my advanced degrees were achieved while working full time and going to school at night.
My job at IBM moved me from New York to California and in 1989 my husband and I decided to settle in and enthusiastically embrace downtown San José. We loved the unique detail and architecture of the old Victorian houses. The cultural diversity is unmatched anywhere else. The energy, diversity, and walkability of downtown were exhilarating. Positive changes happened when San Carlos Street was closed to unify SJSU. We enjoyed the San José Jazz festival which encouraged people to dance and sing in the streets. We looked forward to sushi in Japantown, especially during the Obon Festival and now with the recent Vive de Calle events where we join others in taking over the streets on bikes and as pedestrians. These events signal our long-term unity. These are the reasons we love San José. The reasons we stay.
Living downtown has its challenges. At one point we lived across the street from a crack house and on another occasion, a neighbor’s basement exploded. However, now we are faced with greater problems such as thousands of people living without housing, mounting trash and dumping, frequent trash fires, porch piracy, car break-ins, car side-shows, and worse. These are the reasons we must fight to make it a better place.
Downtown still has its allure, but work is needed to move forward to a safe, clean, housed, vibrant, crime-free, and business-friendly community – to provide a better quality of life for all who call downtown home. We will get to a better future together. With my skills and experience in small business, mental health, accounting, negotiation, law, and conflict resolution, I am ready to organize and implement straightforward solutions for our city. I am equipped to get a cleaner and safer downtown San José and together we can see a faster, smarter approach to city government.
These are the reasons I’m running for San José City Council.