CEPS Candidate Interview Questions – CITY COUNCIL - 2012
Tony Vazquez ended his first term as a member of the Santa Monica City Council in 1994 and is running for a second term.
CEPS is grateful that our work to “promote a shared community vision” to support public education has been so strongly supported within our community. What have you done, personally, to show that you are more than a supporter of public schools, and that in these times of adversity, our community can count on you to be a “champion” of public schools?
I was on the City Council in the 90’s before there was a CEPS and it was Denny Zane, Judy Abdo and myself that brought the motion to support our schools at a time when the business community and even some of our councilmembers were not supportive. Also, when I first ran for council in 1990 I supported the school bond ES that was on the ballot during my election and all my campaign mail had yes on ES. I have been a “champion” for public schools long before there was a CEPS and will continue to fight for our schools.
Describe how you feel that excellent public schools benefit a city.
I believe excellent schools are a key component to a city ‘s economic vitality because good schools improve property values and it just makes good business sense for all cities. It also brings down crime in a city that promotes public safety and makes all the neighborhood associations happy.
Santa Monica’s City government has a unique relationship with its schools and its education community. Please explain what you think is unique about that role. What is your understanding of ways that the education community and city leadership work together and support each other? What would you do to protect and strengthen that reciprocal role along with the direct funding support that the city provides to the schools?
As a city councilman in the early 90’s that advocated for our city to support our public schools I feel I had something to do with the positive role that has developed ever since I was on the council with Denny and Judy Abdo, we made it very clear back then to the city staff that they were to do what ever it took to support our public schools.
State funding cuts to education and local cities are hurting both entities. However, it is safe to say that education has taken the greater hit. What do you know about Propositions 30 & 38 on the November ballot? What is your position on these measures? What is your understanding of the impact on our local public schools should both measures fail?
I had a conversation with State Superintendent of Education Tom Tolarkson this past week and he convinced me that I should support both measures because our schools win if either one of these propositions win. His strong message to the elected school boards, and Maria Leon-Vazquez was present, was that the education community needed to get behind these propositions because we could not afford to lose in November. The school district will be in a $10 million dollar deficit and I will support the school district with the passage of a parcel tax.
Should both ballot measures fail, do you feel that the City could have a further role in supporting our schools?
If so, what might you propose – and “champion”?
I think we as a City can still come up with new taxes that can be shared with the School District, i.e. the taxing of professional services as one example.
What is your position on SMMUSD’s bond measure, also on November’s ballot?
I participated on the SMMUSD Parcel Tax/Bond committee for the district that made the recommendation to the School Board. I moved the motion that was seconded by Chris Harding and passed by a 2/3 vote.
If you support the measure would you carry that support on your campaign literature?
Would you support sharing new revenues with local schools and if so, do you have any ideas about how to raise new revenues?
Yes, I think we can look at the professional services in the city to create a new revenue stream for the City and our Schools. As a SM councilmember I will immediately request a joint meeting with the Malibu city councilmembers and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to discuss how do we makeup the economic deficit of SMMUSD.
Taking a longer view, what other areas of mutual support might you promote between the schools and Santa Monica’s city government?
We need to look at our present JPA and expand its authority where we can share more of our City resources with the school district.