Several weeks ago, Sustainable City News released a survey to all Whittier City Council candidates. Not all candidates have participated. We will add profiles as responses arrive.
Yasmin Ferrada, who is running for election in District 3, shared these written responses to our survey questions:
Why are you running for Whittier City Council in 2020?
I have decided to run for office for the sole purpose of bringing innovation, care and engagement to District 3. I was born and raised in Whittier, CA from two immigrant parents. My father immigrated from Chile and my mother Jalisco, Mexico. I am grateful to have been raised by a family that always instilled the importance of public service, social justice, and education. I have attended all the local schools from elementary to high school, which led me to pursue higher education as a first-generation student at Cal State Long Beach. There I earned a bachelor’s degree in Chicano/Latino Studies and Sociology. I have then dedicated the past six years to serving students in higher education as my role as a student affairs professional.
I have learned in my profession the importance of proactive approaches and investing now to reap the results we want later. I feel that this way of thinking is lacking in representation for Whittier City Council, District 3. I am running to tackle Issues from homelessness, to engaging community members, to balancing the budget, to environmental decisions have been left to worsen and reactionary approaches have been forced to be taken.
What are your qualifications for serving on the Whittier City Council?
I have been born and raised in Whittier and I have lived here my entire life which means I see the changes happen right in front of my eyes. This sparked me to do something about it. I have been very active in attempting to serve our community experiencing homelessness. The homelessness crisis is growing in our city and our leadership continues to treat them like they are less than human. For the past three years I have been diligently organized blanket drives and hygiene kit drives to ensure that I could at the very least provide the things our community members needed to live a dignified life. Education is one of my passions. I have taken this passion to the Rio Hondo Oversight Committee where we are able to ensure the budget is being utilized in a student-centered way. I have also worked to elect a South Whittier School board member to a school district that had 70% of students failing in English and Math to ensure that the most marginalized in our community have a shot of a great educational experience too.
What budget priorities will you promote for the City of Whittier as a member of City Council?
I believe that we need to ensure we are allocating the appropriate funds to addressing the homelessness crisis to ensure we are finally addressing the issue in a way that is dignified for our community members, where our Whittier PD feel supported, and we have long term solutions that end recidivism increase. I also believe that we need to be mindful of the work that our community members are showing as priority. I believe that we should allocate some funding to help support an LGBTQ center for our Whittier youth who identify as such so that they can finally feel included and supported in our community.
As a member of City Council, how will you increase meaningful participation in City governance by residents?
In the past year running for office I have door knocked nearly every day. I saw firsthand the importance of including our community in this process. If elected I won’t stop reaching out to community members simply because it is not election season. I would host coffees, reach out to organizations and groups that have not been made priority, and continue to meet our community members in their own communities.
As a member of City Council, how will you address the dual crisis in housing and homelessness?
We need to ensure one that we have sufficient beds to be in compliance with the Boise decision. I also think we should be working collaboratively with non-profits that are already doing this work to ensure we have a central entry system, and a streamlined process for folks to obtain services that are needed. I would ensure that we included counselors and social workers to assist the Whittier PD because I do not believe that drug addiction and mental health illness should be treated criminally. When it comes to housing, I believe that the lack of affordable housing is one of the causes of our homelessness crisis. I would work to ensure that any further development included affordable housing to stay in compliance with state mandates. I would end the harsh permitting restrictions on ADUs so that we can begin to promote and encourage community members that wish to build affordable spaces on their own property.
As a member of City Council, how will you facilitate the creation of a strong local economy?
I think it’s important to begin by truly being local business friendly. I would want to ensure that the practices that we currently have not only favor large development retailers but also mom and pop shops. I believe we need to cut the red tape and ensure our local shops are not being charged ridiculous fees for simply attempting to market their business. I would ensure we are up to date in terms of consumer experience so folks from outside Whittier would also want to shop here, for example including charging stations in commerce areas.
How can the City of Whittier make the most impact on reducing its carbon footprint?
Our mission should not simply be to not drill in our hills, but to catch up with neighboring cities in terms of environmental responsibility and moving Whittier forward.
Charging stations for folks with environmentally friendly cars are nowhere to be found in District 3. The closest charging stations to District 3 are either Whittier College or the Southern California Health and Science Campus. Neither of which are in accessible high traffic areas where folks in or even outside of our district can recharge. This will deter folks visiting our businesses and beautiful parks from our town, from choosing Whittier businesses. When other cities do offer accessible charging stations they will continue choosing them.
Tree planting campaigns are important to ensure we are investing in the future of our city’s green space. With this, we would focus on ensuring that this type of tree is appropriate for Whittier’s ecological environment. Tree Planting Grants Whittier is part of Tree City USA for the past 35 years, but we see that as enough.
Use of the Gold Line would be beneficial for folks commuting in their own car each day to ensure we are riding along together is practical and environmentally beneficial. This would have a direct impact on reducing emissions associated with single-occupancy automobile use and will help with the growing traffic in our city.
As a member of City Council, how will you help low-income, underserved, and at-risk residents gain access to the support and services they need to survive and thrive?
I think the most important thing is ensuring that information of services is available. If we can ensure our “political mailers” reach doors during election season, we should make sure that we are able to connect our community members with services our city will provide. There are so many organizations working outside of Whittier that would be willing to expand their services to our residents if we just had the political will to serve as the bridge. I would be that bridge. I think trust is something that is not often at the forefront of these conversations but that I find a huge component. When we build relationships with community members, they will trust that we are steering them in the right direction. When I speak to community members in District 3 that live to the South of Whittier Blvd, many share they feel forgotten and excluded from City Hall conversations. I vow to change that.
What else do voters need to know about how your tenure on City Council will benefit Whittier?
I am not a career politician. This means that I am committed to my community and not any outside interest. I am running for Whittier because I love Whittier. I plan to start my family here and thus want to ensure that we have a bright future, inclusionary culture, and a healthy environment. Whittier deserves a public servant that will for them.