To the city council
Our little city of Healdsburg has a great opportunity to make real change this week, and I’m writing this letter to do my part to see that it happens.
As you well know, Mayor Leah Gold has resigned and the council will meet to appointing someone to fill the vacant spot. For this appointment, I suggest Osvaldo Jimenez, a young and badass member of the community who also happens to be of Mexican descent. Ozzy is the vice chair of Healdsburg Forever. He works with Corazón Healdsburg and also helps out at Positive Images, a nonprofit that provides free mental health support services to at risk LGBTQ youth here in Sonoma County. He recently served as a Democratic State Party delegate. Finally, in the aftermath of the most recent wildfire, Ozzy and his partner used their local businesses — Moustache Baked Goods and Noble Folk Ice Cream + Pie Bar — to feed hundreds of people for free. It's time we had BIPOC representation in our local government. Ozzy is the kind of leader who can take us to a more equitable tomorrow. He's also just a great dude.
Not only does Ozzy deserve this appointment, but he deserves an appointment for the full 2.5 years remaining on Leah’s term. There are a few reasons for this. First and foremost, the council has within its power to make this 2.5-year appointment (and never before in the council’s history have four seats been open simultaneously). Second, Leah herself said the council should appoint a person of color to the council in her absence. Third, giving Ozzy the rest of Leah’s term will enable him to learn how to lead and govern without the interruption or distraction of running and winning a campaign. Finally, at a time when Healdsburg has been vilified for subtle and not-so-subtle racism, seizing this opportunity to put on the council a high-profile member of our local Latinx community is a statement that we are ready, willing, and able to take a step toward a better future. Isn’t it time Healdsburg got good press for proactively making the right call?
Please consider Ozzy Jimenez for the open spot on the Healdsburg City Council. We’ll all be better for it. And it’s about time.
Keep in mind the construct
After reading the article in the Press Democrat, “Healdsburg grapples with its future as economic and social crises collide,” I am concerned about the comments of David Haegle: "As a new council member, it takes a while to learn the ropes." I implore the council to ensure they do not fall into the “experience” trap.
This construct just bolsters the systemic racist underpinnings all of our institutions are built upon. I hear nonprofit leaders concerned about how few Latinx community members are “qualified” or “experienced” to sit on boards and how they cannot adequately fund raise. My experience in the county was as a brand new resident of Healdsburg I was asked to join a board (Habitat for Humanity). I knew nothing about, I had never served on a nonprofit board, I had capacity to give but I knew nobody in the county, and had never fundraised for a nonprofit. Yet I was asked.
I would also encourage you to consider this quote –
“President Lyndon B. Johnson said in 1965, 'You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘You are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.' As Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote, “In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently.”
― Ibram X. Kendi, "How to Be an Antiracist"
I also hope you consider the racist construct that says experience in city government or management is valued above experience growing up as an LGBTQ Latinx person and experiencing all the impacts of our racist systems. The experience of being a young person starting and growing a business. The experience of a young Latinx person willing to take leadership roles in so many ways, Positive Images, Healdsburg Forever, Corazon, just to name a few.
New council members over the years have joined the council as first-time elected representatives. They all learn. None of you can learn or know Ozzy’s lived experience first-hand. That lived-experience is shared by 30% of our community and the time is way overdue for their voice to be heard. I encourage you to appoint Ozzy to fulfill Leah Gold’s full term upon her resignation.
The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t look like it’s going away very soon. Hunger is a looming problem for those who can’t afford to buy adequate food, not only globally but locally.
Even if we can curb COVID-19, I believe no one should go hungry at any time. Locally we’ve come up with a solution: TextFOOD/COMIDA. Your next utility bill will include information about it.
Here’s how it works: With a cellphone, text 707-353-6333, then insert “FOOD” for English and “COMIDA” for Spanish in the text message space. The text response will provide directions on how to find free food in Healdsburg: For TextFOOD, text “1” for meals and “2” for groceries. For TextCOMIDA, text “1” for Lunes to Miercoles for food distribution, and “2” for Jueves to Domingo food distribution. The next request will be for our zip code, 95548, and the following text will list all of the free food sources in Healdsburg.
I am hoping that many Healdsburg residents learn how to use this program and when out and about, help our shelterless residents, many of whom don’t have cellphones, access free food. Also, if you know of a low-income family or person struggling to pay rent in order avoid become homeless and who may not have enough money for adequate food, you can offer to help them, too.