Ever since COVID-19 hit our community, we’ve all had to be more creative, resourceful, and solutions-oriented. While good news is on the way as numbers have come down (we’ve been taken off the watch list for now), we still need to be smart. The next Mayor of Oceanside must bring together people with diverse perspectives and political views. So I want to share with you just a few of the many lenses through which I view this public health crisis and some of the ideas I have on how to keep our city safe through the pandemic and beyond.
As a small business owner, I know the challenges COVID-19 has presented in terms of staying open while also containing the spread. Like many of you, I had to find ways to adapt so that my employees could continue to work and provide for their families. It’s not just my own family that depend on our business–it is dozens of households, and thousands of students who are depending on getting the education we provide so that they can go out and serve their communities. We can get rid of some of the regulatory hurdles faced by small businesses as they try to adapt.
As a husband and father, I understand how challenging it has been to try to make choices that keep food on the table and also protect our loved ones. I know what it’s like to have a teenager who just wants to hang out with friends and forget about this virus. I have three kids attending schools in Oceanside who will be doing their best to learn virtually, with all of the unique challenges that presents in terms of organization, focus, and attention. For parents of students receiving special education services and accommodations, the coming school year presents even more concerns. We may not have all the answers as parents and educators, but we are committed to doing our absolute best to figure this out and help our students thrive.
As a citizen and a taxpayer, I know that a pandemic like this often means unplanned expenses. Therefore, we must prioritize identifying waste, fraud, and abuse in all areas of government to ensure that our tax dollars are being spent wisely. Times of crisis mean that we tighten our belts, not create new slush funds for corrupt officials–no matter what political party they claim to represent. Sometimes it means we must reallocate funding so that we can meet the moment and keep everyone safe. We have to be good stewards of the people’s money–particularly at a time when many are struggling.
As a student of history with a degree in military history and a law degree, I know that we can take lessons from the Spanish flu pandemic just over a century ago. We don’t need a second wave to make us take this virus seriously, and we certainly don’t need to lose more precious lives and loved ones. We know that masks can help keep us safe and that proper hygiene is essential to reduce transmission. We can make sure that, at a minimum, everyone in our city has access to hand-washing stations and masks.
Below are some of the ideas I have to help Oceanside find our way through COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions!
1. Relaxing Permit and Zoning Ordinances for Small Business (within reason) – we can help businesses adapt to moving outdoors and remove red tape involved in helping them to run in a more hygienic way;
2. More hand-washing stations across the city – ensuring everyone has free public access to sanitation;
3. Improved sanitation for transit stations – so that we are using the best, most cost-effective systems for keeping our city safe and clean;
4. Better signs and automated communications – including digital billboards and other automated systems throughout the city (mostly downtown) with reminders for customers and multi-language support where it makes sense;
5. Regular small business forums – to provide better communication among government, Chamber of Commerce, small businesses, Main St Oceanside, and all public stakeholders;
6. Eviction Protection – providing continuing protections (including mediation with property owners) for companies demonstrating COVID-19 had an impact on their profits;
7. Informational sessions on how to apply for disaster aid, loans, grants, and whatever else might help a business survive/thrive during COVID;
8. Free childcare programs – to support small business owners, for new parents trying to return to work, essential workers, and more. Let’s incentivize all those who are keeping the lights on to help the rest of us stay safe.