September 28, 2022

Community organizer enters race for mayor of Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — After Santa Cruz voters chose direct election for an at-large mayor in June with the passage of Measure E, two residents withdrew papers for office in the upcoming November election, Fred Keeley and Joy Schendledecker. Currently, Schendledecker is the only one to officially announce that she is running for mayor of Santa Cruz.

“I’ve worked outside of electoral or formal politics for many years on the community side,” Schendledecker said. “The more I followed the questions of the city council and the city government, the more I wanted to have a seat at the table.”

Measure E changed the city’s existing mayoral selection process from appointing a mayor to the city council each year, to a direct election of a general mayor every four years. The measure also divided the city of Santa Cruz into six city council districts and established term limits for the city council and the mayor at large.

So far, only two have expressed interest in running for the position, which will be decided by majority vote, long-time elected official and college professor, Fred Keeley, and community activist and multimedia artist, Joy Schendledecker. Keeley pulled papers, but told the Sentinel he was still deciding whether to formally run. The 47-year-old mother and registered Democrat, Schendledecker officially announced her candidacy on August 1 via social media and on the radio.

“As I get older, I feel more confident in expressing my point of view,” Schendledecker said. “I would like to inspire more people to get involved in local politics because it can be very intimidating.”

Schendledecker is originally from Maryland and spent a decade in London, England before moving to Santa Cruz with her husband, a college professor and two children in 2015. Since then she has been active in several community organizations such than the Democratic Socialists of America. , and co-founded two organizations, Santa Cruz Cares and the self-help group Sanitation for the People.

“I co-founded Sanitation for the People after seeing how environmental issues are weaponized against people who live outdoors,” Schendledecker said. “We work with people who live outdoors to do cleanups and politically advocate for sanitation and waste management services.”

Schendledecker points to the recent “Out of Reach” report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which showed that Santa Cruz is the second most expensive area in the country for renters. In light of the city’s high cost of living, she expressed the need for wealth taxes, stronger unions for service workers across the city, and better pay for municipal SEIU workers.

“The city really needs to listen to the workers on the ground who run our city and pay them more,” Schendledecker said. “We could do better with fewer consultants and more field workers.”

Looking at the proposed development of downtown Santa Cruz south of Laurel Street and the increased density of the city in general, Schendledecker is weary of community centers such as Bike Church and The Fábrica being evicted, and the affordable housing is not the main objective of the project promoters.

“I’m less inclined to support big business interests like the downtown expansion plan and the Santa Cruz Warriors entertainment district,” Schendledecker said. “Less than 200 of the 1,400 units on offer will be affordable, and we know affordability, when defined that way, isn’t actually affordable for most people.”

In terms of public safety issues, Schendledecker wants to further examine military equipment in the Santa Cruz Police Department’s inventory and potentially implement mental health crisis intervention programs such as CAHOOTS in Eugene, Oregon, to support police efforts in mental health treatment. seizures.

“A non-emergency response system could be cheaper, more efficient, better for people who need help, and it could save lives,” Schendledecker said. “Sometimes those cries for help turn deadly when things get out of hand.”

If she gets the majority vote this fall, Schendledecker sees herself as a mayor who isn’t trying to appease all sides of an issue, or find common ground, but who is “doing more people justice.” .

“I think we have to center justice in everything we do,” she said. “I try to keep that in the forefront of my thinking and feeling, and I want to work with the majority of Santa Cruz people who want it too, for our city and our world.”

Schendledecker will host a launch party from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on August 12 at the London Nelson Community Center at 301 Center St.