On April 19, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs came to Delta College to hold a town hall meeting to listen to students’ concerns regarding the community and city.
The event was organized by Delta’s Empowering Positive Initiative for Change (EPIC) club and the club’s former president Mercy Bacallan.
Members from the EPIC club, the Associated Students of Delta College, the Politics and Society club, the Black Student Union, Pathway to Law, the Puente Club, the Speech and Debate Club, as well as some local high schoolers were present.
Other concerned citizens also attended on top of club members.
Questions from the crowd included how to reduce homelessness in Stockton, how the basic income demonstration works, the Stockton Scholar program, the Swenson Golf Course dispute, and training for city police officers.
Tubbs said the best way to attract more jobs and employers in Stockton is increasing the education standards as he has found that employers look for workforces with qualifications. In the top metro areas, Stockton ranks 99 out of 100 in educational attainment based on adults who are 25 and over with an associates or bachelors, according to the Brookings Institute.
Tubbs launched the Stockton Scholar program in response to this issue.
The program is funded by a $20 million donation and will be available to Stockton Unified School District students for the next decade. It starts with Class of 2019 graduates and offers students who go straight to a four-year college $1,000 per year or $4,000 total or those who go to a two-year school $500 per year or $1,000 total.
Tubbs has also worked with school districts to raise high school graduation standards.
What spurred the basic income demonstration was Tubbs realizing the median household income for Stockton is $44,000 a year and the majority of economic opportunity is in minimum wage jobs.
This demonstration is philanthropically funded, not paid by taxpayers and will allow 100 carefully selected residents of Stockton to receive $500 a month for 18 months starting in early 2019.
Regarding Swenson, Tubbs said Stockton residents have been more engaged and put more energy towards this issue versus other topics like bankruptcy.
“If we were as energized around issues that are life and death for people as we are around recreation, I think our community would look a lot different,” said Tubbs.
He went on to explain how the city council decided the government can no longer subsidize the golf courses because 40 percent of people who use them don’t pay taxes for it.
The plan is to put that money into an Affordable Housing Trust and get a private entity to operate the golf course privately.
“It was a new experience and I think we’d need more time for questions because obviously a lot of people want more information now. Even the mayor said that people were misinformed and ill-informed,” said student Peter Perez.
After the meeting, students had the opportunity to meet the mayor.
“This was my first time meeting the mayor and it was very informative and I learned a lot about the community and what the needs are and I hope I can contribute to that,” said student Graciela Villa.
For more information about qualifying for the universal basic income demonstration visit stocktondemonstration.org.