By Daniel Mendoza, CURYJ Community Organizer
I am a young voter who has never felt like the democratic system benefited people like me, or my community, due to issues with the government both locally and nationally. In this day and age I feel like it is important for communities of color to exercise their right to vote, with the help and service of the our local government to pass legislation that benefits the needs of the people. This year there are important potential laws both locally and statewide that will affect people already struggling with expensive rent and divested communities. Listed below are some ballot initiatives folks should vote on next Tuesday, however, you can learn more about additional propositions and measures here.
In Oakland we experience some of the highest rents and cost of living, as a result people can’t afford to live a reasonable life when a huge portion of their income is going to keep a roof over their heads. With stress levels increasing in our communities as a result of rent, it is important to vote Yes on Measure Y, which will expand eviction protection to all renters whose homes were built before 1996. Measure Y will also keep renters from displacement, regardless of the size of the building they live in.
For us to stop the housing and rent crisis in the Bay Area it’s imperative that we solve it statewide. That’s why voting Yes on Prop 10 will allow local governments to take urgent actions to address the housing and affordability crisis by repealing the Costa-Hawkins Act.
For Oakland and many other parts of California it’s safe to say that our communities are underfunded and simply in need of more money to increase local services and education. We are already struggling with the budget we currently have, which is why voting No on Prop 5 is important. This proposition will take upwards of $1 billion each year from California’s schools and local services, as well as fire and emergency response teams to give new tax breaks to a select few.
Not only are we facing high rent and cost of living, but many of our employment conditions and wages are unfair. Many of the people doing the jobs that others don’t want to do are being taken advantage of, which is why it’s our duty to protect workers that are being treated unfairly. We must vote Yes on Measure Z, which will increase the hourly minimum wage for hotel employees from $13.23 to $15 with healthcare benefits, or $20 an hour if they choose to go without healthcare. Measure Z will also establish workplace protection, and additional enforcement procedures for employment standards, which will be applied to hotel and non-hotel employees.
There is power in exercising our right to vote and showing local and statewide government that people do care about these issues. I encourage everybody to stand up for what is right, and voting is just one small way you can do that. It takes civil engagement, direct action, and navigating political systems to create change, we must participate in all three to be the change we want to see.