Big changes are coming to Election Day with the Voter’s Choice Act
By Mike Wasserman
There was a lot accomplished in Santa Clara County last year, though much work still remains. First of all, animal lovers gathered in November to witness a monumental construction milestone, the “topping off” of the new Santa Clara County Animal Services Center in San Martin. After years of planning, the new Animal Services Center is on track to open in 2021. Fundraising is underway to complete critical infrastructure of this state-of-the-art facility. Please consider supporting animals with a tax-deductible contribution. Visit www.aplace4animals.com.
Housing Homeless Veterans, People in Need
Residents understandably are asking, “What is being done to address homelessness?” The answer is we are housing people. In the past five years the county has helped to house 12,400 people — including about 1,600 veterans and 3,800 children. We are using voter-approved funds and other public investments to create affordable housing for those in need. The county is now almost a third of the way toward our goal of financing 4,800 new affordable units through Measure A by 2027.
Turning Lives Around
The county celebrated the opening of a 31,000-square-foot expansion of the William F. James Boys Ranch near Morgan Hill, a county youth detention facility that helps 15 to 18-year-olds. The expansion will provide additional services, including rehabilitation, substance abuse counseling, gang intervention, and education in trades and skills.
Working with PG&E
The handling of power shut-offs by PG&E frustrated many. PG&E’s decision to execute the shut-offs are costly, both to local governments and to residents, who understandably feel ignored, scared and angry. While the county can’t control what PG&E does, we are making it clear to leaders who regulate PG&E that their actions have consequences. As chair of the Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee, I’ve asked PG&E representatives to appear before our committee. We need solutions and those usually happen by working together.
Big changes are coming to Election Day with the county’s implementation of the Voter’s Choice Act. Beginning with the March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election, voters will be able to cast their ballots at Vote Centers or use Vote by Mail Ballots. The new system will make it more convenient for our 900,000 registered voters to cast a ballot and is anticipated to increase voter participation. In addition, voters will benefit from a new, modern and secure voting system that includes new ballot scanners, tabulators and ADA-compliant ballot-marking devices at Vote Centers. The new system will enable a decentralized count which is expected to expedite election night results considerably.
Keeping Gilroy Strong
The shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July was a senseless tragedy that rocked our community and shocked the world. Six-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar and 25-year-old Trevor Irby were killed and 17 others injured. My heart goes out to the families affected and as a community we are deeply grateful to the thousands of firefighters and law enforcement, EMS, physicians, nurses, medical personnel, emergency management staff, volunteers and community members who sprang into action.
Balancing $8.1 Billion
The needs of our county’s 2 million residents far outpace revenues, which made this year’s budget a herculean balancing act. The county’s 2020 $8.1 billion budget funds vital services that hold the fabric of our society together but are often invisible to residents. At the county level, we don’t control the decisions made in Washington and Sacramento or what happens with the economy. But we must adjust to them. Much of the county’s budget is comprised of “pass through” State and Federal funds that pay for mandated services, which is why we are constantly adjusting to change and challenges in uncertain times.
I look forward to facing challenges in 2020 with my colleagues and working with all of you to create a better community. I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year!
Mike Wasserman is the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors representative for District 1, which includes Morgan Hill, Gilroy and San Martin. Visit www.supervisorwasserman.com.
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