Santa Cruz’s fourth City Council District spans all the way from the bottom of the Upper West Side on High Street to the Beach Flats near the coast on Beach Street, and also encapsulates the city’s downtown area.
Ensuring that community voices are heard is a belief that has been at the forefront of the three campaigns of Santa Cruz’s District 4 candidates.
The three runners spearheading these campaigns are Greg Hyver, Scott Newsome, and Hector Marin.
Hyver, a property manager, seeks to vastly change the political infrastructure in Santa Cruz. He plans to create a new direct democracy structure, involving a system that would allow for people to instantaneously vote on measures through their technological devices. He also prides his campaign on being for the people.
Through his ravings of individualism and the need to save liberalism, he made systemic change his clear campaign priority.
“I’m all about changing the way we do local government, and that includes firstly giving people their voices back,” Hyver said. “There’s a lot of people who don’t know how to channel their voices into policy based on a consensus of the district and people who want to participate in it.”
Another main focus of his campaign is prioritizing free speech, which he emphasized when asked about his core beliefs.
“I believe in honesty and truth. As soon as I see censorship, I begin doubting a particular side [who is censoring],” Hyver said. ”I feel like [they should let] every opinion come out about [a topic.] To censor anyone is a violation.”
When it comes to wanting voters’ voices to hold weight and be heard, candidate Scott Newsome shares the same sentiment.
Scott Newsome is an author and politics lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Newsome has firsthand experience with the housing crisis after living in Santa Cruz for nearly a decade — first as a graduate student, then a lecturer, and now as a husband and father of two.
“I want to give back to the community,” Newsome said. “I want to ensure that the place my partner and I chose to call home remains vibrant, supportive, and livable for everyone.”
Newsome hopes to make Santa Cruz a more welcoming place for BIPOC communities by doing away with city or law enforcement practices that promote racial injustice and inequality. Additionally, he plans to develop a system that dispatches mental health professionals to emergency calls pertaining to a mental health crisis, similar to the CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) model founded in Eugene, Oregon.
“I support partnering with the county to look into creating a CAHOOTS-style system based around mental health professionals responding to calls dealing with those experiencing a mental health emergency,” said Newsome in response to a questionnaire by UCSC student leaders.
In addition to Newsome and Hyver, the belief that residents should have a voice is a sentiment also shared by candidate Hector Marin.
Marin is a recent UCSC graduate, and an advocate of amplifying voices of marginalized communities in Santa Cruz. Marin is also the only Latino running in any Santa Cruz district.
Marin felt that the lack of BIPOC candidates is detrimental to marginalized communities living in Santa Cruz.
“Santa Cruz is BIPOC, and it would be bad if we have a Santa Cruz that’s purely white in its City Council formation,” Marin said. “Lived experiences do not lie.”
He also mentioned his campaign’s support of a community refund, which will democratize current city budgets and reallocate certain portions of those funds into social service and human services that address houselessness and affordable housing. According to Marin’s campaign social media, the aim is for these funds to go to BIPOC-owned small businesses to ensure an increase in wealth for those communities.
Additionally, he emphasized the importance of the younger generation, stating:
“The youth has to be represented as well […] Innovative change can be translated and transcribed through the power of the youth and through the power of these students. That’s the key.”
With no incumbent on the ballot, change in District 4 is inevitable. The future of everything from Bay to Front Street lies in the community voices expressed in this election.