Let’s make Hayward a smarter city

Rocky Fernandez,
Hayward City Council Candidate

As a born and raised product of Hayward, I’m running for Hayward City Council to make sure our city is meeting our potential and rising to answer the challenges of the 21st century.

I’ve long valued public service, first as an Eagle Scout, and later while working on political campaigns and public policy. I attended Hayward schools and graduated from UC Berkeley, where I studied while holding a job at Southland Mall. I ran for public office at the age of 28, when I was elected to the AC Transit Board of Directors.

Currently, I serve as District Director for State Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, and previously worked in renewable energy policy for two non-profits. Additionally, I’ve worked for more than a decade to get young people active in politics and turning out to vote.

I helped establish both the East Bay Young Democrats and South Alameda County Young Democrats, and served as California Young Democrats President in 2008, the “Year of the Young Voter.” I’ve learned how setting good policy and community organizing shapes the economy and our quality of life, and I’m excited to serve once again.

Everyday, thousands of bright young people come to Hayward to learn at CSUEB, Chabot College, and our technical schools. Thousands more are in our high schools, mastering the skills needed in our global economy. Yet at the end of the day, many of you leave Hayward without being asked to help grow our community.

I’m running for city council to encourage you to stay here, and to make Hayward a true hub for entrepreneurship where you’ll want to live and establish your first startup or nonprofit organization. This is important for the future success of our city.

It’s going to take effort.  We’ll need to build more transit-oriented housing around our downtown and South Hayward BART areas, with transit connections to our schools. Then, we’ll have to create gathering spaces where people with good ideas can meet up with fellow creative people to make them into great ideas.

Innovation more frequently occurs in cities because of face-to-face interactions that happen more often in places where there are simply more people.  Ideas get feedback, are honed and tweaked, and become better ideas that get connected to good resources.

Currently, Hayward lacks enough coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and public spaces downtown to facilitate these interactions that startup communities enjoy. The ones we have close too early for college-going students and young entrepreneurs to study and grow ideas together.

While we often think of San Jose and Austin as startup towns, cities like Boulder and Las Vegas are making key policy choices to build these environments in their downtowns and connecting them with their universities. If Boulder can do this, so can we.

Many forward looking “smart” cities are moving towards a future that uses data to better plan out transportation, energy use, and modern infrastructure. Rather than contract the work to some far-away corporation, vibrant smart cities are using the talent in their own communities-reinventing government from the ground up-to create the apps, programs, and tools that leverage this data to manage resources.

In San Francisco, for example, the SFpark program uses data and dynamic pricing to help visitors find parking spaces, saving drivers from circling around endlessly and preventing additional congestion. Buildings in smart cities are installing solar panels and technology to manage that energy efficiently, sometimes using nothing more than a smartphone thanks to local startups.

I’ve experienced this policy approach myself. At AC Transit, we used data on our bus ridership-where people got on and off the bus, combined with public input-to better structure our bus routes while saving money and preserving service for students and seniors. We worked with Google, yet also created ways to share our data with local open-source entrepreneurs to develop tools that assist riders.

I believe this “smart city” approach will grow jobs right here in Hayward, further democratize our city government, and help us balance our budget while respecting our city employees. I ask for your vote on June 3rd, but more importantly, I ask you to help make a smarter Hayward happen. www.rockyfernandez.com