Tony owes and attributes much of his success today to the programs that Santa Ana made available to him and his family as a child and young adult. These programs included afterschool programs, youth sports, free summer lunch, community centers staffed by caring and charitable individuals, and clean and safe parks to play in.
As a teenager, Tony began to see these programs disappear and fall apart. Parks are now in disrepair and empty. Community centers are no longer a place where families in the neighborhood congregate. It’s clear that the City’s focus and financial interest have shifted away from these programs at an alarming rate. Just take a look at Heritage Park, Rosita Park, Santa Anita Park, Windsor Park, Centennial Park and surrounding examples to see what the years of neglect has done to these spaces. We will do better.
The current pandemic has only widened the void created in the Parks and Recreation budget at a time when the need for community is at its greatest.
Tony is committed to truly giving back to his community in a big way when it comes to redirecting attention and resources back to our youth programs as we invest in their futures. This has proven to have positive effects on his own life and he is indebted to do the same to our current families and communities.
Public Safety as Holistic Approach
Law enforcement plays a crucial role in the safety of our communities, but enforcement cannot be the only response to crime reduction. Tony has seen the City budget shift in directions that do not always suit the needs of our residents.
As the CFO of multiple medium-sized private companies, Tony has the experience to make creative budgetary decisions and make efficient use of finances where needed. Civilian responders, field operators with knowledge of mental illness and a public safety oversight committee that all much have the interest of our residents at heart are needed and are being demanded by our community.
Crime prevention services come in many forms and Tony is committed to restoring faith and respect in our Police Department within our neighborhoods.
Address the Homelessness Crisis with Care
The crisis we are experiencing in Santa Ana with the worsening homelessness crisis has been one that our residents have been facing without much change for too long. The effects of homelessness have an impact throughout our entire community.
As the effects of COVID-19 put more residents out of work, there is a greater need for work placement services and access to emergency health care than ever before.
Along with this, those that are homeless should be treated less like criminals as many need help with their mental illness or drug dependencies rather than incarceration. Tony will work to develop a county-wide approach to help residents get off the streets and into treatment centers and temporary shelters. The County will be put on notice that they must make good on their commitment to enforce every city within the county to share in the responsibility of building appropriate shelter space within their own communities. Tony will consider all legal options in order to push for this to happen.
Housing as a Human Right
It is no secret that the cost of housing has grown significantly faster than that of real wages in Santa Ana. This imbalance not only creates serious financial stress on our families, it also has a negative effect on the environment and quality of life that our residents experience. This includes our public housing options being very limited or in disrepair, high occupancy of people living in a single space, and adding stress to families living with the uncertainty of whether or not they can afford their next rent or mortgage payment.
Tony lived through this first-hand. His family relied on one source of income to provide for a family of 8 in a small two-bedroom space. There was a constant amount of anxiety every month in his house about making ends meet with little to no government support.
There is a smart and level approach to help relieve tensions between renters and landlords that can satisfy both ends. Ensuring that we curb, or limit, rent increases gives renters the security of knowing where their financial future is headed while still being fair to the landlord. Ensuring mortgage relief opportunities for homeowners provides relief on the other end resulting in fewer displacements and fewer vacancies.
Along with this, public and affordable housing options have not been developed at rates to prevent the overcrowding that we are currently experiencing at a high level. Tony will focus on incentivizing the promotion of new development to meet the needs of our families. With COVID-19, these needs have become visible and urgent.
We need to have pride in where we live and the improving quality of our neighborhoods will be a clear indication of such pride. Tony has always been proud to call Santa Ana his front yard and is committed to use his business experience to bridge the growing housing crisis facing our community.
Bring Honor to Immigration
As a first generation Mexican-American and son of two immigrants, Tony understands the need for a more dignified approach to Immigration policies in Santa Ana. He witnessed his parents live in fear and anonymity, even when they fully achieved Residency Status.
For too long, immigrants that, in many cases, are on the frontlines as essential workers have stayed in the shadows of our community without any government support. Tony knows that it is the duty of our local government to have an effort in place of informing ALL residents of Santa Ana of their rights and opportunities as immigrants. This not only promotes honor within our residents, but also creates a safer community of inclusion rather than exclusion.
This includes more access to immigration legal defense that is vital to keeping our families from being unnecessarily separated. Tony believes that all taxpayers should have access to these benefits, regardless of their documented status.
Promote and Attract Small Businesses
Tony is not just an example of the American Dream in action. It brings him more pride to say that he is a product of the Santa Ana Dream.
He is living proof that the opportunities created by a fair and equitable Santa Ana is a good investment for the City. Tony was raised in large part by the programs offered at Santa Anita Community Center and he has in turn re-invested himself back into the City by opening various small businesses that generate tax dollars, helping create a positive image for Santa Ana, hiring local Santa Ana residents, promoting charities to help our communities, and serving as a source of inspiration and a positive example to our youth.
For Santa Ana to remain competitive and attract the type of businesses that create jobs and bring in tax revenue, there needs to be a proper level of incentives to allow for that. This may come in the form of tax credits, but Santa Ana more importantly needs to create a healthy and well-equipped workforce within clean and attractive neighborhoods.
This comes with the need to create an efficient City Hall for business owners to receive permits for improvements that would only further serve our community. Outdated processes have made growing a business in Santa Ana harder. Tony has the personal experience to address these issues and offer solutions that would greatly satisfy our business community.