We checked in with the mayor of San Jose on an exceptionally difficult term.
What has been your strategy in tackling COVID-19?
I knew we’d see tens of thousands of families pushed into the street, so I was the first U.S. mayor to announce an eviction moratorium. We were criticized by many when we did it, but now the federal government has even adopted it under a CDC directive. In partnership with many nonprofits, we took over the task of setting up countywide food distribution, and we now distribute as many as 2.8 million meals a week. We also distribute baby formula, diapers and wipes to thousands of families. City Hall was never in the food distribution business previously; rather, our team had to drop everything to figure out how to simply respond to the need.
There were other less urgent but equally important needs, too, like providing families with digital access. We were working to tackle the digital divide before, but suddenly, we had tens of thousands of kids who couldn't learn from home because they didn't have computers and their families couldn’t afford data plans. So we’re distributing 11,000 hotspots and thousands of computers. We’ve had to pivot and adjust to the needs constantly.
Where should people put their resources?
Please give of your treasure or time through siliconvalleystrong.org—the need dramatically exceeds what we’ve raised so far ($36 million in private and public contributions), and more than 6,000 volunteers have signed up through the website to help with food distribution and other urgent needs.
What does the world need more of this year?
Forgiveness. The self-righteousness of partisans on both sides of the aisle is a bed of toxic divisiveness that is destroying our nation. Forgiving others for whatever perceived slight we feel we may have suffered is a good place to start. Listening more wouldn’t hurt, either.
Photography by: Courtesy of Sam Liccardo