We are in a moment of time where the decisions we make today will have a big impact on our future. Our city has always offered a great quality of life for its residents with a good balance of open space and development. We have beautiful parks that offer great programs for our kids and a city that is peaceful and clean. There are also many small businesses owned and operated by friends and neighbors in the community. We are also blessed to have a very high level of public safety and first responders working hard to keep us safe. These qualities make Thousand Oaks a very special place, but we are not without challenges.
Currently, we have water shortages, an increase in homelessness and a rise in burglaries in our historically safe neighborhoods. In addition to this, the California-mandated growth targets for housing units will put additional stress on these key issues. My goal is to find and implement solutions to these problems while also responsibly managing the growth of our city. In short, I want to make sure Thousand Oaks remains a special place for generations to come. For over a decade, I have been building businesses from the ground up. I know what it takes to bring people together and operate efficiently to get things done. My current company, Commune Capital, works with city councils all over the nation. If elected, I will bring the same entrepreneurial spirit to our city, so we can efficiently solve these challenging problems.
The three most pressing issues are the water crisis, the growth in homelessness, and the uptick in burglaries in our historically safe neighborhoods. For water, I want to make efforts to become less dependent on the State Water Project (SWP). The city did enter into a partnership this summer with Calleguas, Las Virgenes, Triunfo and Camrosa Water District. This will bring additional resources to several cities by making this a collective initiative with a more regional approach. We have a couple of options from here: We can look to partner with one of the local water agencies that have new water treatment facilities coming online, or we can find a good location to develop a stand-alone treatment facility of our own.
The homeless issue is one that is close to my heart. My little brother suffers from a mental illness and has been homeless for the last 12 years. This is a problem that I truly want to solve because, selfishly, I want my brother to be back to living a purposeful life. We must focus on making homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring. The homeless can generally be divided into three groups: Those who are struggling financially, those who suffer from addiction, and lastly, people like my brother who have a mental illness. Each of these root cause areas has a separate and distinct strategy. Nineteen percent of homeless people are going through hard times. Right now, those people are sent to Many Mansions, but unfortunately, that organization is at max capacity. I will explore the expansion of Many Mansions using California State resources or private grants to help these people get back on their feet. The remainder of the homeless suffer from addiction and/or mental illness. For those who are addicted, I want to partner with nonprofits and churches to implement a “shelter first” policy that creates a path toward subsidized housing for addicts that have recovered and returned back into the workforce. Thousand Oaks did receive $27 million to build permanent housing for the homeless, but the Housing First model without a path to sobriety doesn’t work, in my opinion. And finally, those that are disabled due to mental illness should receive housing along with medical care and professional counseling.
Keeping our community safe by keeping crime low is very important to me. Our police and first responders must have all the resources they need. I will vote to hire more police officers if it’s determined that we need them. Implementing new neighborhood watch programs and strengthening current programs have been shown to reduce crime by as much as 16 percent and also keep new crime out. This, plus strengthening the police, will ensure that we remain one of the safest cities in America.
I’ll be the first to tell you that these are complex issues that are very difficult. We needed proper planning and solutions as far back as two decades ago. On the water issue, present leadership is doing a good job by creating partnerships with local cities to increase resources and take a more regional approach for water infrastructure. On the homeless side, the city is breaking up encampments, which is good. The encampments are not safe for the homeless or our residents. We need to do more, as stated in the previous question, and I will work hard to get more state and private funding to solve the problem. The uptick in crime is happening all over the country. Locally, we need to make sure we have enough police officers, that they have the latest state-of-the-art equipment, and explore the idea of neighborhood watch programs.
I grew up with a father who showed me how to be a good man. It wasn’t the things he said to me, but rather the things he showed me. When he spoke about my mom to others, how he treated his clients, and when he spent time with us, he always set a good example. He was kind and respectful of others. As I got older, I realized the impact this had on me, and I want to set the same example for my children. I want them to know what it means to treat others with kindness and respect. My father also taught me to work hard, be responsible and act with integrity. Doing what you say you’re going to do was always a big thing for him. I want my children to understand hard work and to know what it means to treat others with respect and to act with integrity. I will teach them how to handle challenges, and most importantly, I want them to always see me keeping my word. As I step into public service, it will be even more important to lead by example because, in addition to my children seeing, so will the rest of our community. I promise to work hard, treat others with kindness and respect and always act with integrity.