1. What were your favorite accomplishments during your time on the council?
The friendships and community relationships I developed as a result of being on the City Council have been priceless. Whether it was making policy or community service, I feel we did a lot and some of the accomplishments that stand out for me are:
· Continuing to organize my Annual Madrigal Family Reunion back in the Central Valley despite my busy schedule
· Advocating for Gang Prevention & Intervention Programs/Support/Policies
· Bringing wifi to the City Council chambers and surrounding area
· Voter registration at the Annual UCSC OPERS Fall Festival in collaboration with student organizations on campus
· Convening an Economic Prosperity Summit
· Co-Founding the CA Alliance to Stop the Spray to fight the State's efforts to aerially spray our communities with Light Brown Apple Moth pesticides without our consent
· Continuing the free Annual Immigration & Citizenship Forum with free one-on-one Legal Help that I started since 2002 in Santa Cruz and have since expanded to Watsonville
· Co-Founding the Santa Cruz County Community Coalition to Overcome Racism
· Co-Founding the Annual Prom Dress Drive
· Co-Founding the Annual Festival del Nopal
· Serving as a founding officer and President of the Tri-County Association of Latino Elected Officials (TCALEO) which includes over 60 current and former elected and appointed officials in Santa Cruz, Monterey, & San Benito counties
· Working with the Mayors of Santa Cruz and Watsonville to have a Joint City Council meeting.
2. What was your biggest disappointment?
The economy made it difficult to beautify Santa Cruz the way I had envisioned and to continue providing all the needed services in our community, especially to our youth.
I still wish we had built the Coast Hotel & Conference Center, developed a Free Wifi corridor in the Downtown & Beach Area, and that our City Council had approved a resolution of support for AB 1081 The Trust Act which would've created a solution for counties to deal with the negative impacts that the Secure Communities federal program has been having on families in our communities.
I also wish we would have brought more diversity to the City Council, even though I did nominate and appoint people of color to some of our City Commissions.
3. What advice would you give to the person taking your seat?
Make sure you are as accessible as possible to your constituents. Recruit as many interns as you can to help you accomplish your goals.
I was fortunate to have had several wonderful interns from UCSC, such as David Ortiz who has been a Godsend. Go visit the sites of land use projects you're going to be voting on and meet with the neighbors of the project if you can.
Meet regularly with supporters who helped you get elected, and reach out to other groups that don't know you well. Attend as many community events as possible.
Go out of your way to stay connected with historically under-served communities to make sure their voice is heard regarding issues that could potentially impact them.
Meet individually with other Council members at least once to get to know each other a bit more and establish a good rapport with them. Get to know other local elected leaders in our region because there might be some opportunities for cross-jurisdictional collaborations.
4. If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
I wish I would had working on my community service projects and event when I first got elected because I met so many wonderful volunteers and they keep making the projects/events better each year.
I would've gotten more involved in the League of Cities because they are such a great resource for our communities, especially when it comes to helping us learn how other cities in California are dealing with issues such as the loss of redevelopment funds.
5. What will you do now and what will you do with all your newly free time?
I will be spending more time with my family in Modesto during the holidays and I plan attending more family birthdays/BBQs/events in the Central Valley. I definitely plan on spending more time with my Mom in the Central Valley who is an empty nester and always needs help around the house. I also plan on continuing to help organize and connect our local leaders in Santa Cruz, San Benito, & Monterey counties as the new Executive Director of the Tri-County Association of Latino Elected Officials (TCALEO).
6. What was the funniest thing that happened in your time at Council?
There are so many funny moments on the Council. One that stands out is the late Mike Tomasi's regular public comment introductory speech about him being the "King of the Trolls of A-Battery 6th Battalion, 14th Auxiliary, a walking talking miracle from Vietnam, and the greatest fort observer that ever lived."
No matter what else he'd yell at the Council about he always ended his public comment with "I love ya," and the sitting Mayors would often say he/she loved him back.
Oh, I can't forget the famous Santa Cruz lady that came out on YouTube. I had friends and family from everywhere asking me, "Aren't you on the Santa Cruz City Council? Who is that lady?"
Thank you Santa Cruz for the opportunity to serve the community. Gracias Santa Cruz por la oportunidad de servirle a la comunidad.