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May 30, 2023

Mayor’s Message: Help shape the future

Since my last message our clocks have sprung forward and Spring is here. As we move past the storms of the past several months, much-awaited federal help for our neighbors in Pajaro has arrived. 

The President approved a major disaster declaration for Santa Cruz and Monterey counties earlier this month. Residents with storm damage from Feb. 21 and later are eligible for individual assistance. In addition, the disaster recovery center in Watsonville (250 Main St.) continues to be open, assisting residents. It includes Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff, the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), and various state, local and community agencies. 

We are currently taking applications to provide 40 current and incoming high school juniors and seniors a Summer in the City program which is a partnership between the City of Watsonville, Pajaro Valley Unified School District and opportunity to gain career readiness skills, foster interest in leadership and civic matters, and create a voice for youth to address real city issues. Students must be enrolled at Watsonville High, Pajaro Valley High or Aptos High to participate. The program runs from June 12–July 14 from 8:30am to 4pm. Not only do students receive 10 elective credits at program completion, one college credit unit from Cabrillo College, but they are provided a $1,000 stipend. Please go to our City website at cityofwatsonville.org for more program information and application. 

Our library continues to have exciting activities like Sewing 101 for Absolute Beginners. Get ready to learn to sew! Learn about the various parts of a sewing machine, beginner vocabulary, and techniques. Attend our absolute beginner session on Tuesday, April 18 from 4-5pm at the Freedom Branch Homework Center. Join us virtually on April 27 at 5pm for our second author talk with New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger as he discusses his newest book in the Cork O’Connor series, “Fox Creek,” and his numerous other works. 

Looking for a new podcast to listen to during your commute? While you take a walk outdoors? We invite you to listen to Watsonville Public Library’s new podcast called Biblito. Our hosts will discuss books, what to read next, and community and cultural topics. The Biblito podcast will be released on a monthly basis on Tuesdays at 6am on our library website and on Spotify. 

Be on the lookout for many upcoming opportunities to provide your input as we embark on developing our 2050 General Plan to help guide our community’s growth, change and development. One such opportunity is an April 19 virtual workshop from 5:30-7:30pm where residents can provide input and discuss what they envision for Watsonville over the next 25 years. This workshop is one of many upcoming community outreach efforts. Be a voice for your community and help make decisions impacting residents in Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley. 

March was a busy month with our Watsonville Police Department partnering with the local National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) office to host a free mental health event for Watsonville residents. The event was provided in Spanish with over 50 participants attending. Seeing the participants engage in the conversations and provide support to community members who told their stories was truly inspiring! People talked about their experiences, which to me, proves the value of providing a safe space that allows people to be vulnerable without judgment. 

Our Fire, Police and Public Works departments participated in Pajaro Valley High School’s “Public Safety & Public Works” event. Staff met with students during their lunch hour in the quad area to learn about career opportunities. Our Fire Department continued to open its door to school visits, hosting 40 kindergarten students at Fire Station I for fire prevention education and a station tour. 

Along with our Mayor Pro-Tem and Councilmembers Orozco and Dutra, we traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet our state’s federal delegation. Discussions with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Congressman Jimmy Panetta and Senator Alex Padilla focused on important infrastructure investments, including a levee restoration project slated for 2025, necessary to build a resilient and vibrant Watsonville. We thank them for their time, efforts and eagerness to engage in these open dialogues. 

Finally, the City Council is looking for applicants for various boards and commissions. Applicants must be qualified registered voters in the City of Watsonville (except for Zone 7 appointees). Applications will be accepted on a continuous basis until appointments are made. Currently vacancies exist in the Library and Personnel Commission. 

Until next time, Watsonville. 

Mayor’s Message is a recurring column from Watsonville’s mayor.


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