Vote for Racial Justice: Kyle Heiskala

Kyle_HeiskalaKyle Heiskala: District 1 City Council Candidate

How have you demonstrated your commitment to racial justice?

One of the biggest racial issues in San Diego is economic segregation, which has manifested itself so that low-income minority communities have historically been concentrated in the neighborhoods south of the I-8 freeway. As a way to combat this racial injustice, I have worked to ensure equitable transportation for all communities in San Diego to ensure economic mobility. I have done this through chairing the subcommittee that worked to implement the Bicycle Master Plan and partnering with the Environmental Health Coalition and the City Heights Community Development Corporation to get UC San Diego students involved in advocating for a better regional transportation plan. Easy access to affordable public transportation will allow folks in these communities to have easier access to jobs. Many families in these areas can only afford one vehicle, meaning oftentimes only one family member can have a job. I’ve worked towards ensuring that this will not be a hindrance in the future. These plans have also made strides in making it easier for youth to have access to different San Diego colleges, allowing them to easily commute from home while seeking higher education, meaning they won’t have to pay for housing costs associated with getting a degree. I have also been a major advocate for the San Diego minimum wage increase to $15/hour that will be voted on in June. This will allow for a living wage so that San Diegans with a full time job will not have to live in poverty.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges San Diego faces to achieving racial equity?

I believe that the biggest challenges are issues associated with civic engagement of lower income communities. Historically, the largest voter turnout is the white and wealthy communities in North County, as opposed to the low income minority communities south of the I-8. This means that the city of San Diego has more representation from those communities that cannot accurately assess the needs of San Diego as a whole. Along with this is an issue that most of the lower income communities work for an hourly wage, meaning that they are less likely to take time off from work to vote in these elections.

Check all of the boxes that describe your perspective about race.

✅  “Race is a social construction.”

“I am colorblind.”

✅  “Institutional racism means that people who are not explicitly racist can support and benefit from racial oppression.”

✅  “White people of all income-levels benefit from privileges bestowed upon them historically and in the current day.”

“We live in a post-racial society. Anyone can thrive if they work hard enough.”

✅  “We live in a country where race impacts one’s educational and employment opportunities.”

✅  “Racism continues to be a problem in today’s world.”

✅  “White people have a responsibility to work for racial justice.”

✅  “I am well-informed about the United States’ history as it relates to race and racial inequality.”

The limitations of the public transit system in San Diego mean that low-income workers face obstacles getting to work and pursuing certain employment opportunities. How should San Diego expand and support its public transit system? What role will you play, if any?

As a region we need to stop investing tax dollars into widening freeways and start funding transit that goes directly to where people live. We can do this through Bus Rapid Transit that is separated from the traffic either above or below ground and it is also cheaper than Light Rail Transit but just as effective. The region can also fund Youth Opportunity Passes so that young people in lower income communities can have subsidized access to public transit.

Clean, drinkable water should be available to all households, regardless of income level. What should San Diego do to make drinking water more affordable for low-income families? What role will you play, if any?

San Diego should create a 100% local and renewable water supply in order to not depend on importing water from Northern California or the Colorado River. This can be done through recycled water, rainwater capture, desalinization, and other methods. In order to do this, I will advocate for the investment of city resources into new and sustainable water supply projects.

How can San Diego raise employment rates among communities of color in San Diego? What role will you play, if any?

Two of the main issues that are contributing to the unemployment rate in San Diego for people of color are access to an array of jobs and education. For access to jobs, I have worked on and will continue to work towards developing an equitable transportation system so families will not have to worry about having multiple cars for multiple jobs. Increased public transportation will also allow high school students to seek internship programs to gain technical skills, without having to rely on their family’s vehicle. We can also expand internship programs offered to connect young people to careers. It is also essential to develop better access to higher education, including access and retention programing in high schools, especially those in lower income communities.

What should San Diego do to ensure communities of color are safe while reducing the disproportionate police presence and contact in their neighborhoods? What role will you play, if any?

We can improve the connections between the police and communities of color through community policing methods. Creating personal connections between officers and members of the community will go a long way.

How should San Diego ensure that children of color receive a high quality education that affords them the same post-secondary opportunities as white children? What role will you play, if any?

An issue with education in San Diego, as well as the rest of the nation, is that lower income communities receive less resources from the government, which makes them less likely to succeed in pursuing a higher education. We need to ensure that all communities within San Diego are receiving equitable resources. The government should also create access programs to introduce students to higher education, and work with local colleges to ensure that these students are retained once they get to college.

What should San Diego do to support students of color, as well as immigrant and refugee students, in finding employment and high-wage jobs? What role will you play, if any?

We need to ensure that students of color have equitable resources in comparison with other communities to have the skills necessary to pursue employment. We also need to implement refugee programs that help them seek out jobs and internships that can help with transitioning into San Diego as their new home.

What does San Diego need to do to better support its bilingual/multilingual communities? What role will you play, if any?

Students of San Diego need to start taking language courses as early as elementary school so the burden does not fall on bilingual and multilingual communities to learn English, and so non-English speaking communities do not feel the need to assimilate. The United States does not have a national language, so it’s time we stop acting like it does.

What should San Diego do to ensure that low-income communities of color have affordable housing? How can San Diego support development without pricing out low-income families? What role will you play, if any?

We need to increase the number of affordable housing units in San Diego. Comparatively, development in San Diego doesn’t contribute fees for affordable housing that are as high as comparable jurisdictions.

The legitimacy of the police is undermined within communities of color because of racial profiling in police stops, police shootings of people of color, and racially disproportionate police contact. What should San Diego do to rebuild trust in San Diego’s police? What role will you play, if any?

Increasing the resources for training and diversity, education for police officers and stronger oversight. City Council can advocate that these resources are allocated to accomplish a more equitable police force.

What is your stance on the Black Lives Matter Movement?

The Black Lives Matter Movement has been essential in creating a dialogue about the racial issues that continue to plague black communities.

What is your stance on San Diego’s use of Proposition 21 (Section 182.5) and the San Diego 33?

I choose not to answer this question.

What role should San Diego play in the current refugee crisis?

 ✅  A) San Diego should be a haven for refugees from Syria and elsewhere fleeing violence and economic hardship.
B) San Diego should not actively welcome refugees from Syria and elsewhere.
C) Other