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June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
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Local

City of SacramentoCandidate for City Council, Council District 7

Photo of Tristan Brown

Tristan Brown

Education Legislative Representative
2,656 votes (20.46%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Expand affordable housing options for all income levels.
  • House the homeless through public banking and land trust investments.
  • Increase city service responsiveness, including better trained law enforcement.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Public Education Legislative Representative
Legislative Representative, California Federation of Teachers, AFT, AFL-CIO (2016–current)
Assembly District Delegate, California Democratic Party — Elected position (2015–current)
Co-Lead Chairperson, California Democratic Party Executive Board Legislation Committee — Appointed position (2017–current)
Legislative Advocate, California School Employees Association, AFL-CIO (2014–2016)
Senior Clerk, Olson, Hagel & Fishburn, LLP (2012–2013)
Political Director, CA United Homecare Workers Union, SEIU/AFSCME Local 4034 (2006–2012)

Education

University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law Juris Doctor (J.D.), Political Process (2013)
University of Redlands Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Government (2005)

Community Activities

Vice Chair, Center for Workers Rights (2017–current)
Board Member, McGeorge School of Law Capital Advisory Board (2015–current)
Treasurer, Pocket/Greenhaven Community Association (2017–current)
Trustee, Sacramento Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO (2017–current)
Co-Director, New Leaders Council, Sacramento Chapter (2015–2017)

Biography

Tristan Brown is an advocate for our public education system and an active community member.

Tristan grew up in Southern California in a mixed household. His mother, a second-generation Mexican American, worked in the travel and entertainment industry and showed him the importance of education as a very active PTA member. His father spent decades as an international automotive journalist and helped show Tristan a global perspective on life. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Government at the University of Redlands.

After college, Tristan began his career advocating for working families, first for homecare workers and later for public school employees. During this time, he went to law school, taking night classes, so he could learn the legal system to help advocate for others, and make our community better. He earned his law degree at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law with a certificate in Public Law & Policy. Now he works with the California Federation of Teachers, advocating for more money and support for our students in K-12 schools, community colleges, and 4-year higher education universities. 

Tristan is a dedicated community member who serves several local Sacramento organizations, including…

·      Director Emeritus - New Leaders Council, Sacramento

·      Vice Chair of the Board - Center for Workers Rights

·      Member & Volunteer - Buddhist Church of Sacramento

·      Treasurer - Pocket/Greenhaven Community Association

·      McGeorge School of Law Capital Advisory Board Member

·      Member & Volunteer - Sacramento Scottish Rite & Shriners

·      Trustee & Delegate - Sacramento Central Labor Council

·      Volunteer - Habitat for Humanity Unity Build

As a proud Democrat, Tristan is an elected Assembly District Delegate to the California Democratic Party and was appointed to the Executive Board as co-chair of the State Legislation Committee. He is the Founder and Chair of the Organize, Win, Legislate Sacramento Democratic Club and a member of several other local Democratic clubs.

Tristan and his wife, Mary McCune, a Sacramento native, came to the Pocket to start a family and spend time with their two dogs. They met in law school and were married at the Buddhist Church of Sacramento.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Democratic Party of Sacramento County
  • Sacramento Central Labor Council

Organizations (8)

  • Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, AFT
  • California Nurses Association
  • Wellstone Progressive Democrats
  • Sacramento FemDems
  • Sacramento Green Dems
  • Sacramento Women Democrats
  • Sacramento County Young Democrats
  • United Domestic Workers of America, AFSCME

Elected Officials (1)

  • Fiona Ma, California Board of Equalization, 2nd District

Individuals (3)

  • Kathi Windheim
  • Dean Murakami
  • Brian Mizushima

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Tristan Brown is a firm believer in the democratic process and knows that for the process to be successful, elected officials must reach out and have real conversations with constituents. For over 11 years, Tristan has worked and volunteered in membership-based organizations. This experience provided him the ability to actively seek out each member's needs, thoughts, and guidance in order to form collaborative and holistic policy solutions. He believes that the role of a city council member is to maintain constant contact with the residents of the district in order to genuinely know their preferences on policy issues. He stands against making assumptions about public works projects, budget priorities, or large expenses. Tristan places the needs of seniors, students, and those living with disabilities or other hardships above other political pressure. People must come first, and a community must not allow the bottom to fall out from the economic sustainability of the city. Tristan is pro-labor and fights to ensure living wages, affordable housing, access to healthcare, and dignity in retirement. 

Position Papers

Housing

Summary

Several proposals that can help Sacramento increase its housing stock, house the homeless, and increase homeownership.

Sacramento is facing a housing crisis. In the past few years, rental prices have increased approximately 15% while wage increases have been unable to keep up. Half of the residents in the City of Sacramento live in low-income circumstances. 44% of us pay over 30%, the widely accepted amount one should spend on housing each month, to housing costs (with low-income earners spending about double the accepted rate). 31% of our children live in poverty in Sacramento. This must change. In order to meet current demand, Sacramento County must increase our affordable housing stock by almost 60,000 units.

In order for Sacramento to return to an era where everyone has the opportunity to live in sustainable means, we must reinstate some old policies and incorporate some new thinking into providing options for housing. Sacramento used to be a shining example of mixed-income housing in the state. Builders were required to provide low-income and very-low-income housing options when they build a housing project. This type of mandate promotes a real opportunity for families to benefit from services based on land values as well as having a ladder to climb up into higher standards of living. Children of very-low-income households would be able to attend the same schools as the families that can afford market-rate housing. This helps cut off the perpetual cycle of poverty at the next generation, allowing the children to flourish beyond their parent's generation--the goal for every parent. Not only are educational resources better obtainable, but also health and safety concerns are better addressed in mixed housing. There is less of an occurrence of negative environmental factors such as mold, fungus, lead, etc., as well as better crime rates when housing consists of mixed-income units versus allowing slums to develop. I will advocate to return to mandated inclusionary housing models.

One way to help home ownership is by investing in our newly created Sacramento Community Land Trust. As a volunteer during the early design of the trust, I learned how communities in other parts of the country were splitting the cost of homeownership by creating land trusts to hold property for the benefit of new, low-income home buyers. Typical home purchases include not just the housing structure, but also the land beneath it. With a community land trust, the land owned by the trust corporation for the benefit of someone that buys a home on top of that land. These buyers only need to have enough of a down payment to afford the home and not the land, thus cutting the price in half. The buyer has complete ownership of the home, makes payments, and builds wealth as the home value increases. At some point, the buyer can sell the house to another person who needs assistance in buying a home and the buyer would have enough savings and wealth created with the home to buy another home in a more traditional manner. These trusts work exceptionally well if the city invests in the trust, or donates land to the trust. As a member of the council, I would push to donate the vacant land suitable for housing to the trust and help more people obtain their first home, and use other affordable multi-family housing options.

Many residents have signed a new ballot measure petition calling for a form of rent control in Sacramento. I support their efforts since the idea is well balanced. The measure creates a new housing board that sets a limit on how much a rental price can be increased year to year. It also protects tenants from unfair evictions, while giving an appeals process to both landlords and tenants for rental prices and the use of private property. This idea will help protect those who are most vulnerable to unfair rental hikes and leaves many small-scale landlords who have second single-family homes as rental units unaffected. It will go far to keep some housing options affordable in our area while allowing for the high-cost market-rate housing to continue. 

Finally, in order to increase our supply, we must think out of the box. I support the creation of a Public Bank of Sacramento that is chartered with the Federal Reserve Bank in order to provide financing for major projects and to save our tax dollars. Just like the Bank of North Dakota, a public bank in Sacramento would house our general fund from the taxes that you and I pay. Instead of housing our tax dollars in commercial banks that charge fees to manage the money, we would save money by hosting the funds ourselves with public oversight and complete transparency. These savings can help ease the burden of our taxpayers by reinvesting the savings into public safety, after-school programs, or other needs as determined by the public. Not only do we save money, but public banks also have the ability to draw down funds from the Federal Reserve to invest in infrastructure projects. Our bank would thus be able to lend at levels far lower than commercial banks, and help finance housing for the homeless and to help build more affordable housing stock in the area. We can partner with our local building trade apprenticeships to build tiny home units in order to provide shelter to those suffering from homelessness and educate our new generation of builders at the same time. This type of bank has operated for over 100 years in Noth Dakota and is worthy of our attention to find a tailored-fit public bank to Sacramento. 

Mass Transit

Summary

Sacramento needs a unified, clean, and efficient mass transit system for our future.

At first glance, Sacramento seemingly has a decent network of light rail and traditional bus routes to serve the many residents in the Sacramento area. Upon further inspection, I was dismayed to see the high cost to ride our regional transit system ($1 more expensive than in Los Angeles!) and the low service provided to riders. Sacramento has been caught in a downward spiral of increasing fares and decreased ridership. Many residents I speak to do not find value in the expensive light rail system when health, safety, and convenience concerns are brought into the equation. The concerns are clear, and the requests have been for increased service in a manner that makes sense. Smaller, electrified buses are able to enter into residential areas in a clean, quiet, and convenient manner. Having this type of system in residential areas would help seniors, students, and those living with disabilities an easier time to get from home to work or take care of errands without having to travel very far on the beginning or end of their trip. Electric buses are becoming a huge success in China and Europe, especially when we factor in their cheaper long-term costs since there are fewer moving parts that can break down. Sacramento is being awarded $44 million dollars from a settlement with Volkswagen over VW's fraudulent diesel pollution coverup. This money should be pushed into our mass transit system for these types of upgrades, including digital upgrades to allow riders to see where buses are located and be able to plan their trips, pay for fares, and better manage their precious time. Instead, VW is pushing the money into electric car chargers and ride-share vehicles that are options for the wealthy, but not for the working class of our community. This is not acceptable. Downtown Sacramento is becoming harder and harder to drive into. Between predatory parking rates until 10 pm, and lanes of traffic lost to road diets, it is becoming more effort than it is worth to travel downtown. Mass transit is the solution to engaging in the area, but right now there is no way to actually accomplish that goal. This is why so many turn to transit network companies like Uber and Lyft, which drive down the earning potential of drivers and gouge riders during peak hours, making it out of reach for workers in our area. I will work diligently to reverse this course and work towards merging the various transit systems that exist in the Sacramento area so that riders have clear choices that make the most sense.

Local Advocacy

Summary

I believe a council member is an organizer and advocate for residents. I have been that for over a decade, and want to bring the highest level of service to this community.

City councils represent a major foundation in our democratic system. They are the front line of the democratic process, where residents are able to voice their concerns, ask for direct action or help, and look for information on items that can affect their quality of life and family. I have spent the last 11 years in my career working for member-based organizations. This has required me to seek out the opinions and needs of thousands of people within an organization, collaborate with all voices, and then advocate for their common good. This is the style I will bring to the city council by engaging with residents on an ongoing basis, not through passive office hours or making celebrity-style appearances, but by attending PTA meetings, community association meetings, checking in on folks door to door, visiting our small businesses to hear from the owners, and engaging with the vast amount of booster clubs, associations, and organizations in district 7. I am a true organizer, who wishes to be one phone call away, not three. I learned how to be this type of representative even at an early age when I was a Resident Advisor in a first-year college residence hall. These students have a wide range of needs, from something as simple as needing a door unlocked, to the more complex emotional and medical needs of someone contemplating suicide or suffering from an overdose. I did this job so well that I was promoted into a position reserved for graduate students to lead a staff of RAs in a first-year hall my very next year. I cherished my time being a helper in that setting and began engaging civically in the same manner. First, through working electoral campaigns, but then later through non-profit volunteerism or giving my time on the boards of organizations that help people. I spent years at school, earning a bachelors degree in government and then later a law degree from the McGeorge School of Law focusing on how government and politics function. I have graduated from leadership institutes, and even the Sacramento City Management Academy to better know how our city functions. I have this unique education, training, and experience that sets me apart from other candidates. It is my promise to residents of district 7, that I will be the most responsive, collaborative, pragmatic, advocate for your needs.

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