It is important for youths to participate in political forums because it provides an opportunity for them to be involved with the political aspect of our communities and communicate our concerns and questions with dignitaries.
Political Forum 1: Pizza and Politics 2020
October 9, 2020 @ 6 PM
During the 2020 midterm elections, YEPI's President/Executive Director, Kelly Tung, interviewed Cupertino Mayor Steven Scharf, Campbell Mayor Susan M. Landry, Saratoga Mayor Howard Miller, California Assemblymember Evan Low, California State Senator Dave Cortese, and California State Senator Candidate Ann Ravel at the 2020 Pizza & Politics forum. Kelly asked them about their perspectives regarding a variety of racial, social, and environmental issues, such as education reform, racism, police reform, affordable housing, and climate change.
We excerpted several Q&As from this political forum related to racism, education reform, police reform, affordable housing, climate change, and sustainability below. We continue to pay close attention to whether those elected candidates have fulfilled their political promises in 2021 and 2022 and evaluate their commitments.
20:24 - Kelly Tung interviews City Mayors about Police Reform
20:38 - Saratoga City Mayor Howard Miller responds
22:16 - Cupertino City Mayor Steven Scharf responds
23:51 - Campbell City Mayor Susan M. Landry responds
25:26 - Kelly Tung interviews City Mayors about Housing,
Sustainability, and Systemic Inequality/Racism
25:42 - Saratoga City Mayor Howard Miller responds
27:10 - Cupertino City Mayor Steven Scharf responds
28:45 - Campbell City Mayor Susan M. Landry responds
39:26 - Kelly Tung interviews CA State Assemblymember Evan Low
39:36 - CA State Assemblymember Evan Low responds
40:35 - Kelly Tung interviews CA State Assemblymember Evan Low
about Affirmative Action
41:01 - CA State Assemblymember Evan Low responds
43:27 - Kelly Tung interviews CA State Assemblymember Evan Low
about Education Equity
43:51 - CA State Assemblymember Evan Low responds
48:39 - Kelly Tung interviews CA State Assemblymember Evan Low
about Affordable Housing
49:01 - CA State Assemblymember Evan Low responds
1:07:40 - Kelly interviews CA State Senator Dave Cortese and CA
State Senator Candidate Ann Ravel about Climate Change
1:08:04 - CA State Senator Candidate Ann Ravel responds
1:09:43 - CA State Senator Dave Cortese responds
Kelly interviews Cupertino City Mayor Steven Scharf, Saratoga City Mayor Howard Miller, and Campbell City Mayor Susan M. Landry about Police Reform starting from 20:24
Kelly Tung (Moderator, YEPI President/Executive Director, Former Chair of Cupertino Teen Commission):
Thank you. Our next question is, what is your stance on police reform and how is your city responding to inequality and bias in our justice system? We'll start with Mayor Miller.
Howard Miller (Saratoga City Mayor): Saratoga has West Valley College in it, and West Valley College is the preeminent junior college in the State of California for people entering the law enforcement profession. We have the highest success rate at the police academy for San Jose and for the state highway patrol. So we have a lot of educators within our city that are heavily engaged in understanding the law enforcement models and police reform. I believe there are things that you can do at the end of the system but I think that there's a lot of attention that needs to be paid at the front of the system: the type of people, the type of backgrounds, the type of education that they're given to go into the law enforcement system. I think there's an old school model from the 50s of police being enforcers, and I think the forward-looking model is police being supporters. What is the role of a policeman in Saratoga? We don't really have a lot of crime, so they spend a lot of time doing investigations but there aren't many muggings and beatings. So, they spend a significant amount of their time helping the citizenry and our citizens are used to that. But if you live in another sort of city (I came from near Richmond, California), the police mostly have to be enforcers because there are so many other social issues going on. We need to mend the dynamic between the public and the police. We need to adjust the role to be more of helpers and guides than just enforcers.
Kelly Tung (Moderator, YEPI President/Executive Director, Former Chair of Cupertino Teen Commission): Thank you. Mayor Scharf?
Steven Scharf (Cupertino City Mayor): So like Saratoga, we contract with the Santa Clara County sheriff for law enforcement. One advantage of that is that Cupertino and Saratoga have extremely low per capita policing costs, but looking at other cities and even ours, the issue is the police have been called on to do way too many things as other services have been defunded. They need to be mental health experts in homelessness and experts in domestic abuse. They get called on for neighbor disputes when we have one person complaining that their neighbor put some potted plants across the property line and they call the police to come out for that. The issue is that there are so many other services that used to exist to address these issues and they've been slowly defunded so the police have had to deal with these. So long-term, when I hear "defund the police," I think there's something to that. But when you defund the police, you have to fund all these other services and then let the police do what they were designed to do: stop crimes, investigate crimes, and let all these other agencies deal with things that really may not require a police officer to come out. But it's a misnomer to think it's going to cost us less to do that; it's going to actually end up costing us more. Thanks.
Kelly Tung (Moderator, YEPI President/Executive Director, Former Chair of Cupertino Teen Commission): Mayor Landry?
Susan M. Landry (Campbell City Mayor): Yes, thank you. I agree with what the other two mayors have stated and I think I'll highlight what Mayor Miller said: it's the culture that is created in the department and the culture sets the tone for the behavior of the rest of the department. Campbell is on the high end of excellence when it comes to how we deal with our community. The majority of our heavy crimes are people that flee San Jose and drive across the street and were captured in Campbell. So if you're looking to deal with police reform, you also need to identify what the problems are. In the last seven years, we've had two officers that had a complaint filed against them (and it was very minor in the situation) but we don't get a lot of complaints. We've also looked at other social services things; I am proud to announce that we have a canine officer dog named Lucas. We are getting a second canine dog officer dog and the goal of these is to keep our officers out of harm's way and allow these dogs to come and help the situation. But the other part of the dog's job is to go out into the community, help kids have comfort dogs, and also show that the police do have a sensitive side to them.
Kelly interviews Cupertino City Mayor Steven Scharf, Saratoga City Mayor Howard Miller, and Campbell City Mayor Susan M. Landry about Housing, Sustainability, Systemic Inequality/Racism starting from 25:26
Kelly Tung (Moderator, YEPI President/Executive Director, Former Chair of Cupertino Teen Commission): Thank you. We are now coming close to an end to this section tonight. This will now be your last question and your closing statement. What question do you wish you had been asked tonight and why? We'll start with Mayor Landry.
Susan M. Landry (Campbell City Mayor): I would hope that kids would start asking about what planning is being done in the future. Mayor Miller (Saratoga City Mayor) mentioned the general plan. These are plans that establish the framework for how the city will be built out and a lot of people don't understand what a general plan is. I wish you had asked the question so that we would have described why it's so important and what is needed to be put in there. Housing is a big element right now: where it goes, how it goes, and how the state has overridden our local jurisdiction. Traffic is another issue; one thing that's very important right now is our climate action plan that we are working on. I would like to have you asked about that. In closing, I just want to really thank you all for inviting me to participate. You guys are very well organized. You are very professional; I've seen a more professional presentation out of you right now than I've seen out of a lot of council meetings and I think it's great that you guys are engaging in the political process at an early age. Go for it, think big. Who knows, maybe a bunch of these women will be made presidents someday.
Kelly Tung (Moderator, YEPI President/Executive Director, Former Chair of Cupertino Teen Commission): Thank you. Mayor Sharf?
Steven Scharf (Cupertino City Mayor): A question about sustainability would have been good. It's on my mind because yesterday at the League of California City's virtual conference, Cupertino received what's called the Vanguard Platinum Award for Sustainability Greenhouse Gas Reduction. There are only four cities in the state that have ever received this and Cupertino is the only one for 2020. So, so many things come back to sustainability and it's something that we can all really have an effect on. If I go out and hang my clothes on my clothesline instead of turning on the gas dryer, it does not really take much more time, but I've had a positive effect. If I ride my bike to Trader Joe's or the City Hall instead of hopping in the car, which is a little easier, it has an effect and we're setting examples for others to do the same. So tomorrow I have a sustainability forum, so I'm probably getting ready for that now, but I think it's an issue that the youth are really involved in and it's really your future. It's so important for our planet to look to a sustainable environment and we'll try to do more in Cupertino. We want to do something about single-use plastics, which is a very big issue, and looking forward we already have that on our work plan. We'll be looking at it probably early next year. So thank you and it was a great forum, better than the other one I was in today. Thank you.
Kelly Tung (Moderator, YEPI President/Executive Director, Former Chair of Cupertino Teen Commission): Thank you. Mayor Miller?
Howard Miller (Saratoga City Mayor): The one thing that troubles me the most and I have come to a different opinion over my 12 years as an elected official is systemic inequality. We talk about systemic racism and systemic inequality. You asked a very specific question about the police and I think that's a backward-looking question. I want to give you a quote and it was a well-meaning quote that the superintendent of a nationally known school district said: "We are protecting the quality of education in our schools by making sure that only the right people come to our school." Does that not sound like in my city, Saratoga, right where our schools are going to be overcrowded if we build affordable housing? Does this not sound like some people may be in Cupertino or Campbell? In our very cities, we would rather close our elementary schools. Blue Hills is on the chopping blocks of Cupertino Union. Every single one of our schools has lost one kindergarten and one first grade class since I've moved to Saratoga. We would rather close our kindergarten classrooms than allow affordable housing to be built in our city. I think we need to look at the systemic issues that are keeping working-class families from living in our cities and how we can define the futures of our own cities rather than letting the State of California define the futures of our city. That quote, by the way, was made in 1959 and it was in Selma, Alabama. It might as well have been 2020 in Saratoga, California. We need to understand how we're part of the problem and not allowing equality in society. So there it is. It's a hard challenge for everybody to think outside the box but I leave you with that. Thank you.
Kelly interviews California District 28 State Assemblymember Evan Low starting from 39:26
Kelly Tung (Moderator, YEPI President/Executive Director, Former Chair of Cupertino Teen Commission): To kick things off, please tell us about yourself, your experience, and why you should be re-elected as the State Assemblymember for District 28.
Evan Low (California State Assemblymember): Thanks, Kelly. I was born and raised in this community, in this district. I've lived in this district that I represent my entire life. What's important is that we recognize the struggles that we have in the State of California and try to advance the issues for all people. In particular, my message tonight will be to that of our Gen-Z and the current young generation to ensure that we have access to affordable housing, that we have access to healthcare, that we recognize that climate change is real, that when we see record global temperatures for five consecutive years, that that means something. The State of California will take action and we will recognize and be the leader in the nation with respect to climate change. These are all the issues to help empower the younger generation because let's face it: you'll have a tougher time than previous generations. But as a millennial, I recognize that and I will continue to be a champion for everyone. Thank you.
Kelly interviews California District 28 State Assemblymember Evan Low about Affirmative Action starting from 40:35
Kelly Tung (Moderator, YEPI President/Executive Director, Former Chair of Cupertino Teen Commission): Thank you. Our first question for you today is: ACA 5 is a constitutional amendment that will be on California voters' November ballot. This amendment will repeal Proposition 209 and allow universities in California to bring back affirmative action during college admissions. You recently voted yes on ACA 5. Can you tell us why you voted in favor of the amendment?
Evan Low (California State Assemblymember): Absolutely. This is to repeal Proposition 209, which I believe was approximately 13 years old during this time to which a number of viewers may or may not have been alive yet to help recognize the importance of this issue. This is to ensure that we recognize that there are racial disparities and injustice within the system. Institutional discrimination exists and we need to discuss how we can proactively rectify the institutional injustices that we see with respect to the public sector. That's what this conversation is about. That's why we've seen bipartisan support on this issue. And yes, let us recognize that this is a difficult conversation about race, about sharing power. But that's what our democracy is about. And if anything shows us, with respect to the issue of the George Floyd killing, unconditional allyship is required for us to live in a democracy and help lift up all communities. That's what this conversation is about. That's why I made the decision to support it in the legislature and that's why I enthusiastically support it now.
Kelly interviews California District 28 State Assemblymember Evan Low about Education Equity starting from 43:27
Kelly Tung (Moderator, YEPI President/Executive Director, Former Chair of Cupertino Teen Commission): Thank you. Your next question is: California schools are among the nation's most underfunded. California spends significantly less per student than most of the other states, which really affects the education that our students receive. There has also been a cut in the budget for UCs as well. What steps are you taking to solve this problem and to help give students a better education?
Evan Low (California State Assemblymember): Kelly, it's dawned on us -- and we should know this -- that we live in a community environment in which we have one of the most valuable companies in the world known as Apple. And yet, in the Cupertino School District, there have been five consecutive years of cuts and proposals are now looking like we may have to shut down some schools and or share principals and other staff. At the same time, there was a revenue measure for the Cupertino School District to raise revenues, to be able to pay for the essential school services for the Cupertino Union School District. Unfortunately, that was voted down. So I will speak truth to power which is to say that if we value our community, if we value our school district, then we recognize the importance of basic budgeting. What you referenced is that we are, of course at the local level, always starved and we must do better in terms of local control. Because our electorate in Cupertino shot down revenue measures to keep the school district sustainable, it's important that we look for alternate resources for reform, and also different funding formulas from the state and that's what we'll continue to do. But what we need to recognize is also the inequities that exist; for example, should big corporations pay their fair share? I say yes. And that's why I'm also in favor of Proposition 15, which ensures that we close the loophole to ensure that our major corporations pay their fair share as we all do as individual citizens.
Kelly interviews California State Assemblymember Evan Low about Affordable Housing starting from 48:39
Kelly Tung (Moderator, YEPI President/Executive Director, Former Chair of Cupertino Teen Commission):
Thank you. A lot of our audience members will be heading off to college in the coming years. They will hopefully graduate, probably incur debt from student loans, and maybe land a well-paying full-time job. However, they have to face something most American teenagers do not: the highest cost of living in the country. How are you planning to address housing?
Evan Low (California State Assemblymember): Yeah, Kelly, when we've seen reports that individuals may need the median (it's a range), one needs to earn close to $275,000 dollars to live in our region, here just in Cupertino. That's a challenge. Kelly, did you know that the governor, the chief executive for the fifth largest economy in the world -- that is Gavin Newsom, the governor -- does not qualify and make $275,000 dollars? And yet, when we think about the challenges -- don't feel sorry for the governor -- but think about the generations that you're part of: you're letting up to your end of the bargain, and yet you're set up for failure and not for success. And that's why I'm so deeply passionate about ensuring that we have access to affordable housing. We need to reframe this notion of protectionism that previous generations have: we've had it, so therefore we don't want others to have it. We must have a wide variety of this notion of single-family zoning. And oftentimes, it is controversial and it's fair, I recognize that. But if we recognize that this is a supply and demand issue, how we are collectively doing our part, and there lies part of the challenge that exists between the state and local control. Again, I come from local government, now I'm wearing a state hat, and there lies part of that tension. But let us address this issue at hand: to encourage as much access as possible.
Kelly interviews California District 15 State Senator Dave Cortese and California District 15 State Senator Candidate Ann Ravel about Climate Change and Sustainability starting from 1:07:40
Kelly Tung (Moderator, YEPI President/Executive Director, Former Chair of Cupertino Teen Commission): Climate change has become a growing concern for many Californians, including many teens who are worried about the long-term consequences of some of the current practices and policies. What would you do to prevent climate change and create a more sustainable environment if you become a state senator? We'll start with Ms. Ann Ravel.
Ann Ravel (Candidate for California District 15 State Senator): I appreciate it. Clearly, climate change issues are at a crisis level and we have to step up what we need to do. For one thing, I would support and insist on sustainable farming, more electrification, more wind and solar. The state should be investing together with private industries in more batteries that can actually keep that wind and solar power in a way that it can be usable so we don't have to worry about the electric grid. I also believe in increasing green spaces and planting more trees. Early on in this campaign, I was the first to actually sign the pledge (the climate pledge) that I would not be involved in fracking; that is because when I was at the Department of Justice for President Obama, I oversaw the oil spill in the gulf. I flew over in a navy plane, observed the oil bubbling up and all of the destruction of the coast and New Orleans through that oil spill. I went after BP and made them pay for it and that's what I would be doing strongly in the legislature.
Kelly Tung (Moderator, YEPI President/Executive Director, Former Chair of Cupertino Teen Commission): Thank you. Mr. Cortese?
Dave Cortese (California District 15 State Senator): I've had this tremendous opportunity to work on climate issues going all the way back to my time as Vice Mayor of the City of San Jose, where we rolled out something called the "green vision." It became a national model for city municipal governments in terms of climate and stewardship goals. I got to the country board of supervisors and I co-authored the county's first climate stewardship goals. I'm very honored in this campaign to have the sole endorsement of Sunrise Silicon Valley. I'm also endorsed by the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, and other environmental groups. I think part of that is because of the work that I've had the opportunity to do with the county. I called for the first solar farms in Santa Clara county created by the county government. They are now for huge solar farms. The county owns the largest energy storage contract for solar energy with a public sector company in California. These are all efforts that I led or helped. The most exciting thing I had an opportunity to do was to go out and visit Vice President Al Gore's Climate Reality Project and convince them to join in with us to create a county climate coalition because we were seeing what's happening in Washington D.C., where there hasn't been action taken. We didn't trust there would be action to get cities, counties, and communities to commit to 100% renewable and to commit to the right kind of goals. That coalition is growing. We have cities and counties all over the country, particularly counties that are part of that. So I've had a great opportunity including speaking at the UN last year. I want to continue that work when I get to the California legislature. Thank you.
Political Forum 2: Community Forum on Policing, Part 2: Discussion with CUSD and FUHSD Students and Alumni
July 8, 2020, from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
During the Covid-19 pandemic, anti-Asian hatred across the United States has risen. We have constantly seen discrimination and hate crime incidents in the news and social media. A proactive plan is needed to address racism and stop the hate and discrimination at the municipal government and school/district levels. Our President and Executive Director raised her concerns about anti-Asian discrimination and questioned what actions have been taken to address such racial issues.
The City of Cupertino hosted a meeting in collaboration with the Fremont Union High School District, Cupertino Union School District, and Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office-West Valley Division regarding policing in Cupertino. The City, FUHSD, CUSD, and Sheriff's Office have received inquiries about policies and training regarding the use of force, as well as the purpose of School Resource Officers.
The event was hosted by City Manager Deborah Feng and include Superintendent Polly Bove, Interim Superintendent Stacy McAfee-Yao, Deputy Superintendent Graham Clark, and Captain Ricardo Urena. FUHSD and CUSD students and alumni were invited to this meeting to ask questions and express their opinions.
Source: City of Cupertino's Community Forum on Policing, Part 2: Discussion with CUSD and FUHSD Students and Alumni on July 8, 2020
1:10:33 - Kelly Tung voices a public comment
1:11:09 - City Manager Deb Feng responds to
Kelly Tung's public comment
1:11:37 - Captain Ricardo Urena from Santa
Clara County Sheriff Department
responds to Kelly Tung's public comment
1:17:22 - Kelly Tung voices a public comment
1:18:17 - City Manager Deb Feng responds to
Kelly Tung's public comment
1:21:14 - Fremont Union High School District
Superintendent Polly Bove responds
to Kelly Tung's public comment
First public comment conversation starting from 1:10:33
Kelly Tung (YEPI President/Executive Director and Monta Vista High School Student): I think it is really great that we have a forum like this. I know the Black Lives Matter movement is a huge movement and that is worldwide and widespread. I definitely agree that all races need to be respected. My question is how many cases of Asian racism have been reported in our city?
Deb Feng (Cupertino City Manager): I’ll try to answer at the top line. At the beginning of the pandemic, I would say in the March timeframe, I heard a couple of incidents in our retail establishments. But I don’t hear of it widespread and I certainly do not hear of it consistently. I have experienced it myself but not in the City of Cupertino.
Captain Ricardo Urena (Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office): I just want to add to that we did get a few reports where motorists were yelling things that were inappropriate, but nothing to the extent where we are seeing it every day or anything like that. I don’t recall the last time where we had any type of racist comment yelled at or mentioned to any of our residents.
Second public comment conversation starting from 1:17:22
Kelly Tung (YEPI President/Executive Director and Monta Vista High School Student): I wanted to ask a follow-up question in regards to my previous question. Both of you mentioned that although there were some cases that were heard, it seems like they weren’t very serious. However, I feel like these cases are still to be taken seriously. What was the course of action that was made after hearing these cases? Also, outside of cases being reported to the police, I’ve heard of a lot of stories of racism in our community in general. [Even though] our community is mostly Asian people, there is already such blatant racism in our community. What is being done to address this issue?
Deb Feng (Cupertino City Manager): I can take a stab at the racism in our community. These community forums are a start of a way to address the more immediate questions and concerns of not only the public at large, of course, but this forum is for the teens and alumni who’ve been vocal about race issues. It is my plan to create a program that in the next couple weeks to a month where the next place will be to understand implicit bias. It is my philosophy that we need to educate ourselves prior to being able to have healthy discussions about race. I’ve seen implicit bias in my previous positions and recognizing implicit bias will help people understand that everybody has some. To become aware of them is super helpful when you’re trying to change behaviors. But the other thought I had was that, at the end of whatever this program looks like (that I’m kind of developing as we go and kind of in my head, I’ll write it down eventually), we had to ensure that we can get to as many people as possible (but in smaller groups of people). What’s hampering me is this COVID thing that is preventing us from meeting in indoor spaces (or maybe we can do it outdoors) in more focus-based groups when we’re ready to have more healthy discussions about race. To my mind, there’s no way to really address race relations effectively and long-term and change culture without sitting down and talking with each other and making the subject not so scary for some people to talk about. But at the same time, creating a safe environment in which all of us can learn a few things, not only about each other but about ourselves. It’s a learning process. So that’s how I’m planning on approaching it. That’s my and the city’s commitment to helping the culture shift that needs to happen. Some would argue that it’s not fast enough, but it’s the only way I know how to do it. Culture change and shifting people’s views and behaviors is a more evolutionary thing than it is revolutionary, but I want to be able to take advantage of this time in history where we can actually affect a great amount of change if we just do it right and we’re persistent about it. So that’s what I would say about what the city is doing.
Polly Bove (Fremont Union High School District Superintendent): I can talk a little about some of the steps that we’re taking and some of the efforts that we’re in the middle of figuring out. We’ve had a team of alumni, current students, and staff that have written a letter to our board and to me asking for us to take some very strong action. I responded to that letter that we’re now going to the talking stage because, like you, Deb, I believe these are essential conversations. We have a commitment to address curricular issues, be sure we broaden our curriculum, and make sure that we do address racism and issues in our curriculum. We should try to do the kinds of things that help open people’s eyes to the problems and create a deeper understanding. We have some professional development that has been going on for quite a long time now, and we need to augment that and make sure we take broader steps. We are going to have a variety of committees of teachers that are going to help with that kind of guidance and help with that work. You heard a little bit about the restorative justice approach from Graham, and I think our goal is to continue to look at our data around suspensions. Even though we have very few expulsions, we can continue to address that from both the racial lens and any lens we can think of to make sure that we’re not being more biased. I mean, I happen to believe all of us carry some implicit bias, and that it is a process, not an act. It is something that we just have to be deeply committed to so that we’re going to address our own issues, and we’re going to try to seek out and listen to where those issues exist in our institution and work on them. That’s why I was encouraging some of the people on this chat to tell us more. Our board has passed two resolutions: one that was really specific to racism against Asians in our community, and most recently, one that spoke to African Americans explicitly and made sure that we’re supporting anti-racist efforts for all groups. Our board is committed at a policy level, we’re committed at a belief level, and we’re working with the groups of people that have approached us with their passion and wisdom to try to create an even broader, better, and deeper plan moving forward. And I have principals who are assigning huge readings and discussions. It’s happening at every level and I know that they’re working on the curriculum every day as we think about opening school in the fall, which is a whole complicated subject we haven’t even talked about here. That’s part of the work that they’re doing in the intent to make sure that this is addressed in our classrooms.