Issues That Matter
Children & Families
Susan has made good on her promise to improve equity and quality of life for children and families during her first term in office. She created the County’s first ever Children’s budget to highlight the county’s services for youth. She also directed the creation of the County childcare facilities fund while partnering with numerous local organizations to secure additional funding for programs benefiting children and families.
The pandemic exacerbated inequities already plaguing our community, including a lack of consistent access to food for our students when they are away from the classroom. Susan worked with schools and community providers to ensure uninterrupted access to regular, nutritious meals to the tens of thousands of kids in Santa Clara County. Every student deserves the opportunity to succeed and that includes having a full belly while you are trying to learn. She worked with partners to set up emergency childcare services for our County essential employees at no cost to them so they could continue to work despite school and other childcare services being shut down because of COVID-19. She championed initiatives to close the digital divide, providing laptops and hotspots as short term solutions for students and worked with the County Office of Education and Joint Venture Silicon Valley to expand broadband access to neighborhoods in her district. Additionally, she has led work to expand access to mental and behavioral health services to all K-12 schools in the County.
As the former Board President of the San Jose Unified School District, Susan knows firsthand how important providing high-quality public education is to every student. Students and families will succeed more when they have access to affordable childcare and educational opportunities, along with regular healthcare, long before the first day of kindergarten. Susan has continued the fight for expanded early childcare and education opportunities, along with digital connectivity, for families that otherwise could not access them.close
A lack of affordable housing is at the heart of the crisis plaguing our region. From 2010 to 2015, Santa Clara County added 141,000 new jobs but created only 29,000 units of housing. That disconnect is driving up rental and purchase prices - making our housing some of the most expensive in the nation. Long before the pandemic, this shortage forced longtime residents out of the area, forcing people to drive long distances to work, hurting families and creating more pollution.
To address this crisis, Susan is working to prioritize the building of permanent supportive housing for our county's most vulnerable residents. In addition to protecting rent control, she is working to create public-private partnerships that allow the county to use funds to support first-time home buyers and our public sector workers like teachers and firefighters.
Susan understands that we must also get creative, repurposing county-owned properties in urban areas to provide more sites that are suitable for housing development. We need to cut red tape, making in-law units and ADUs easier to permit and build. Reducing regulatory barriers is a necessary step in cutting constraints on the supply of affordable housing.close
Public Safety & Justice
Susan has shown consistent dedication to rethinking our local criminal legal system while keeping residents safe. During her first term, Susan led three professionally facilitated community conversations that engaged more than 500 county residents around the question of "what makes you feel more or less safe in your community?" She conducted 18 meetings with justice advocacy groups, community based organizations and the Association of Chiefs of Police to gather their input on what greater public safety would look like here in Santa Clara County. Through her role as Chair of the County's Public Safety and Justice Committee, Susan gathered input from the Sheriff, Superior Court Presiding Judge, Public Defender, Chief Probation Officer, Office of Reentry Services, Office of Pretrial Services, District Attorney and Alternate Public Defender and others on the subject.
The culmination of that work resulted in a report that produced 22 discrete recommendations for meaningful justice reform and increased public safety. Those 22 recommendations have been presented to the newly formed Committee on Corrections & Law Enforcement Management (CCLEM). That committee is charged with reviewing the recommendations for purview, feasibility, financial implications and returning to the BOS with a suggested implementation plan. You can review the report here.
Susan has also worked to rethink Santa Clara County’s system of incarceration. In her first term, she created a program to facilitate contact visitation in jails for families, eliminated inmate calling fees within jails and fought for investment in parenting programs within the jail and reentry systems.close
Equity in Healthcare
Early in the pandemic, Susan championed the Isolation Supports Program to ensure that people who tested positive for the virus had the ability to safely isolate. She advocated relentlessly for greater transparency through the use of public facing dashboards to track a broad variety of metrics from location of disease outbreak to how FEMA, CARES and other emergency aid dollars were being allocated.
Susan co-created a community task force that looks at existing County healthcare systems to identify specific solutions to lead to more equitable approaches and outcomes of County healthcare. The task force includes people that work in our healthcare system, community members and patients that have participated in the system.
Susan championed an increase of nearly a million dollars ongoing to the County’s Black Infant Health Program & Perinatal Equity Initiative in order to improve outcomes for black moms and infants and has facilitated a partnership with hospitals across the County to engage in deeper education for health care providers, stronger connections to services, and better tracking of outcomes to measure impact of the expanded awareness efforts.close
Small Businesses & the Workforce
Since the pandemic reached our shores, Susan’s focus has been to help individuals, employees and small business owners survive and maintain some economic stability while adhering to the orders the Public Health Officer determined were essential to stemming the spread of the virus. When our local businesses found scant support, Susan led the creation of a small business loan program to provide funds to our smallest, locally owned businesses that had fewer options to access other state or federal programs.close
Some of Susan’s very first work as a member of the Board of Supervisors were in the area of sustainability. She drafted a resolution in support of creating alternatives to sending recyclable materials to China, protected the integrity of riparian streams and corridors in local waterways while also expanding access to educational opportunities, strengthened and expanded the County’s commitment to tree planting and reforestation, and defends unincorporated, critical open space lands in the South part of our County from development.close