Written by Paulo Frank
Jay Blas Cabrera has had many experiences in community organizing, with previous attempts at office positions such as campaigning for a seat in the United States House of Representatives, as well as being elected to the second highest student government position at University of California, Santa Cruz, and helping govern a student body of over 15,000.
The largest obstacle Cabrera sees in the election process is how Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) operates, where power in decision-making comes from wealth, Cabrera says. According to Cabrera’s candidacy organization, 0.01 percent of the population pays for over 40 percent of all political donations in the country.
Cabrera finds that the problem of money distribution comes into play in PAUSD elections. “I’m running on a small contribution campaign [of] 100 dollars,” he said. “One of the other candidates is spending $10,000 out of pocket.”
Since Palo Alto is a diverse community, Cabrera believes the reliance on money for achieving government positions is unfair. “Our whole community is al- most 45 percent non-white,” Cabrera said. “On a cultural level, there is a huge disadvantage.”
If elected to the school board, Cabrera looks to rethink the entire system of democracy for PAUSD. “I would instantaneously bring in a direct democracy system every decision on the school board would go online for people to go online and vote for,” Cabrera said. “I want more participation and to use 21st century technology to rethink our democratic system.” Cabrera feels this change would create a more transparent system of integrating change for students as they would be able to vote on issues themselves.
Cabrera also wants to bring computer programs into the learning curriculum for elementary schools. “I want students to be learning computer programing from the third grade, getting ready for a 21st century economy,” Cabrera said. “ is is the direction we’re going; it just needs to be prioritized.”