By Michael Tubbs Growing up in Stockton, I learned the values of hard work and dedication at an early age. With my father in prison and our family living paycheck to paycheck, my story could have begun differently. But in my mother’s household, education came first. With her unending support and my drive to chart my own path, I was accepted to Stanford University. There, I soaked up every opportunity I could, including an internship at the Obama White House. During that internship, my mother called one day to tell me my cousin had been murdered at a Halloween party. That phone call brought everything into focus and solidified a feeling I’d had since starting Stanford – that while I was pursuing my dreams outside Stockton, young people in my hometown were dying, living on the streets, and getting trapped in endless cycles of poverty. I realized that to fundamentally change our community, I had to come back and fight for it.
I ran for city council that year, and in 2013 I was elected Stockton’s District 6 City Councilmember at the age of 22. As a young councilmember, my goal was to show other young people what was possible. I took on intergenerational poverty by improving education, public safety, and economic opportunities. We created the Reinvent South Stockton Coalition, which to this day empowers residents to transform their communities into bastions of opportunity and safety. Since becoming Mayor, I’ve made education a top priority. I’m proud to have secured a $20 million donation to launch “Stockton Scholars,” which will provide up to $4,000 to help students pay for college or trade school for a decade. Stockton Scholars is for high schoolers like Sandra, who comes from a low-income family and knows that with this scholarship, she won’t have to worry as much about college affordability. This year alone, over 1,300 local students have been accepted into the program. We also recently secured $12 million from the Governor to support our schools by creating the Stockton Service Corps, and our city now has $2 million to review a college campus in San Joaquin County, likely in Stockton. A CSU campus would make Stockton a focal point of education for students in our county and beyond.
During my time as Mayor, we’ve also made great strides towards making Stockton a safer city. In 2018, we saw a 40% reduction in homicides and 31% reduction in shootings. 2019 was the first time in the last decade we saw back-to-back years with less than 40 homicides. There’s nothing more important than keeping our communities safe, which is why I’ve worked to bring initiatives such as “Advance Peace” to Stockton, a program that works to reduce gun violence by engaging the less than 1% of Stockton’s population known to commit gun crimes. Everything I fight for is about giving more people greater opportunities, especially in communities of color. That’s why I’m so proud to have the support of leaders like labor and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta and Andrew C. Ysiano, who have also committed their lives to this cause. I’m also proud of our students and families, who say that our new initiatives have renewed their willingness to dream bigger and live more freely. I remember when one Delta College student, Gloria Alonso Cruz, shared her story of feeling safer in our city. We’d released handouts on what to do if you’re stopped by ICE agents, and afterwards Gloria and many others felt like their city was supporting rather than incriminating them. As a public servant, my goal has always been to give everyone the freedom to aim higher.
I want to end by talking about economic empowerment, which is one of the most effective ways we can uplift our underrepresented communities. Recently, we were named the 6th most fiscally healthy city in the nation. We have also created 2,000+ jobs since 2017, reached a $3 million city budget surplus in 2019, and allocated $500 per month to 125 guaranteed income recipients. At the end of the day, I know that the most important investments I can make are in all of you, and every decision I have made as Mayor has been guided by that steadfast belief. There’s still so much we can accomplish together. We can continue to spur job creation, nurture curiosity and innovation, and make our communities even safer. I am committed to leading that charge, and I would be honored to serve as your Mayor once again.