With the general election nearing on Nov. 3, Stockton voters will soon have to decide who will lead the city as mayor for the next four years.
Voters have two options: Incumbent Mayor Michael Tubbs, a member of the Democratic party, or challenger Kevin Lincoln, a member of the Republican party. The mayoral race in Stockton is non-partisan. Tubbs and Lincoln moved on after earning the most votes in the March primary.
Ahead of Election Day, The Collegian reached out to Tubbs and Lincoln to allow both candidates to inform readers on their solutions to problems the city faces. Tubbs did not respond at the time of publication.
The biggest problem Stockton is currently facing is homelessness.
Between 2017 and 2019, the number of homeless residents in Stockton nearly tripled from 311 to 921, according to a biannual census.
In an effort to combat homelessness, Tubbs launched the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) in 2019.
This pilot program, which received $1 million in funding by the Economic Security Project, ensured 125 residents would collect $500 per month for 24 months with no strings attached.
With the launch of SEED, Tubbs became the first mayor to launch a guaranteed monthly income program for low-income residents and inspired 17 mayors across the country to follow suit, according to a 2020 article by Vox.
Universal basic income is only one of Tubbs’ proposed solutions to combat homelessness.
Stockton also recently obtained $6 million from the state of California to expand emergency shelter space by 50 percent.
With these funds, Tubbs said on his official website he will implement a Housing First solution.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Housing First “is a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, thus ending their homelessness and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life.”
In September, the City of Stockton purchased a motel with part of the money received from the grant. This motel will be converted into permanent housing units for the homeless.
Forty-two homeless residents will be able to move into the units as early as this winter, according to Jonathan Mendelson, executive director of the San Joaquin Continuum of Care (CoC).
Lincoln told The Collegian he doesn’t agree with this approach.
“We need to take immediate action to deal with this crisis,” he said. “The current Housing First proposal is not fiscally realistic.”
Lincoln proposes Stockton embark on a public or private partnership that will erect enough low-barrier congregate shelters to accommodate the homeless population in a timely manner.
“These bridge shelters will provide wrap-around services to help the homeless with drug and mental health issues,” he said. “We can’t wait for the government to give each homeless person their own apartment. We can solve this problem now with a common sense approach.”
Lincoln said he believes affordable housing is an important component to the city’s homeless crisis, but it’s not the primary factor.
“The driving cause of homelessness is drug addiction and mental health,” he said. “However, Stockton does need more affordable housing. We can achieve this by providing incentives for developers and nonprofits to build more affordable housing.”
One matter Tubbs and Lincoln agree on is more small businesses, specifically those founded by minorities, are needed in Stockton.
In August 2020, Tubbs announced the launch of the Juneteenth Capital Initiative, a collaborative effort to help Black-owned small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
A total of $165,000 was granted to Black small business owners and leaders of nonprofits organizations. This money came partially from Tubbs’ SEED program, as well as Bank of America, A.G. Spanos Companies and Stockton Strong.
Grants in amounts of $5,000 to $20,000 were given to 14 businesses and nonprofits, all of which addressed community’s needs such as business education, drug recovery, education, health care, and housing.
In an interview with The Record the same month, Tubbs said he would work to ensure more Black entrepreneurs received financial support.
Lincoln told The Collegian small businesses are the backbone of Stockton’s economy.
“I would like to see more family-owned businesses in Stockton,” Lincoln said. “As a businessperson myself, attracting independent business is the cornerstone of a more secure future.”
He said he would advocate for the youth, communities of color, and individuals previously from disadvantaged neighborhoods to start new businesses.
“Free enterprise works best when everyone benefits,” Lincoln said.
On the topic of youth development, Tubbs and Lincoln have different approaches.
In 2018, Tubbs launched Stockton Scholars, a privately-funded program which grants college scholarships to graduating high school seniors in the Stockton Unified School District and Delta College students.
With the help of a $20 million donation, Tubbs has been able to grant scholarships of $500 to qualifying students to cover the cost of books, transportation, and other school-related expenses.
Lincoln told The Collegian he would take a more hands-on approach to youth development.
“When elected mayor, I will host a roundtable discussion that includes all superintendents from all school districts that serve Stockton students,” he said. “As well, I will host a meeting with the Delta College Foundation and Board of Trustees to see how the city can be a stronger partner.”
In order to promote civic engagement amongst the youth, Lincoln said he would convene a Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee of students and young people.
“I will hold regular meetings, listen to ideas, and then implement solutions which ultimately will improve the lives and well-being of individuals aged 19 and under,” he said.