Zach Friend

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I spent my childhood using community baseball fields, parks, school facilities and libraries, and never considered the fact that somebody had to make the policy decisions to build and support them. The leaders who created my childhood environment were faced with options and they chose to create a safe, family-friendly community that worked to make things better for the next generation. 

I believe our community is faced with the same challenges. As parents of a preschooler, my wife and I often speak about how the decisions made today will impact our son’s future. Many parents and grandparents have spoken to me about concerns over how their children and grandchildren will be able to to afford to live here, have a job here or simply enjoy the same quality of life that we have enjoyed locally.  

I’ve seen how decisions at the local, state and federal level have direct impacts on these issues, which is why I’ve spent my adult life committed to public service. After obtaining my B.A. in History from U.C. Santa Cruz I went to Washington, D.C. to pursue a graduate degree in Public Policy from Georgetown and work in the public sector. 

While in Washington, D.C. I had the fortune of working for a number of people that believe in public service - and believe that leaving things better than you found them is an important goal.  I’ve had the privilege of working in both houses of Congress and the White House Council of Economic Advisers. But the greatest impacts have been working in local government. I spent the better part of a decade working for the Santa Cruz Police Department as a Crime Analyst and Public Information Officer, and have had the significant privilege of serving the 2nd District  County Board of Supervisors since 2013. 

While on the Board of Supervisors I’ve worked to improve community access to your local government. This past year we opened a new Aptos Public Safety Center that includes the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney, Probation and our first permanent office - increasing access to public safety and County resources in our district in a way not previously seen. We expanded the County’s first mobile app - that I launched - called My Santa Cruz County - which allows residents to do everything from report potholes to graffiti to abandoned vehicles and even learn about local parks all from the convenience of their smartphones. Also in the last year, I’ve held nearly 200 open office hours in Aptos, Corralitos, Watsonville, Seascape and La Selva Beach and over 75 community meetings and town halls throughout the district to ensure that your voice, and vision, is brought to the Board of Supervisors. 

Additionally, in this last year we’ve set aside funding for significant upgrades to two parks in our district, built the first pump track in south county, added Sheriff’s positions in mental health outreach, made notable investments in homeless services, locked in funding for school pedestrian safety and speed mitigation (including lit crosswalks), created a roadmap for sustainable housing development (through the elimination of fees and regulatory burdens) while still ensuring strong agricultural and environmental protections. We have also built a fiscally responsible foundation that included tripling the County’s reserves, reducing pension obligations and improving our bond rating. While this is just a partial list of what I’ve been working on in the last year I know there is much more that we can do together. 

Similar to the decisions that were made by policymakers before me I would like to be able to create a community of opportunity for our children. From housing and economic improvements, to environmental and agricultural protections we can provide the balance that makes our county so unique. 

I know the challenges we face as a county are not insurmountable - especially if we work together with a common goal of leaving this remarkable area even better moving forward. Thank you for everything you do to make our community a better place and for taking the time to be involved.