.Santa Cruz District 5 City Council Candidate: Joe Thompson

Candidates make their case to Santa Cruz voters

Santa Cruz’s District 5 city council seat is being contested in the upcoming March 5 election between two political newcomers, Susie O’Hara and Joe Thompson.

Joe Thompson previously ran for California’s 28th congressional district in 2022, but lost to former Santa Cruz County clerk Gail Pellerin. In 2021, Thompson helped unionize a Santa Cruz Starbucks, the first store to do so in California. They are hoping to give a voice to UC Santa Cruz students, local seniors and working-class families.

GT sent questions to the candidates to get their takes on some of the city’s most pressing issues. Read Thompson’s responses below.

Why are you running for City Council? 

I’m running for Santa Cruz City Council because this district needs someone who will stand up for working people, students and seniors. I’m a practical progressive who can work to make Santa Cruz a better, brighter community for all of us and get things done at the local, county and state level. I’m running to move Santa Cruz forward.  

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What do you think will be the most pressing needs for Santa Cruz over the next four years, and how would you address these needs as a council member? 

The biggest need in our community now is affordable housing. We lack truly affordable housing at nearly all levels. I’m cautiously optimistic about the outlook on housing with our Housing Element being certified and being designated a pro-housing city that we can continue building the much needed housing our community desperately needs. At the same time, I want to make sure we are addressing and tackling the issue of homelessness by providing services and getting people the much needed mental healthcare that they need as well.

What are your thoughts on how the city should address the increasing demand for affordable housing? Any ideas on how to keep public services adequate to accommodate potential new growth? 

The city needs to build more housing at all levels of affordability in spaces that make the most sense for keeping our community safe for pedestrians and cyclists. This includes allowing the university to build more student housing on campus to meet the need for housing for students while balancing growing water and other infrastructure. 

Do you think raising the city’s sales tax to help fund assistance programs for the unhoused is a good idea? What else do you think could be done to address the issue?

Yes. I support measures K and L. I believe both of the measures are critical in order to maintain and expand our city services in regards to homelessness and hope that the voters will support both K and L to make Santa Cruz a safer, cleaner and greener city and county for all of us to enjoy.

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