Mahatma Gandhi said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
I sustain that “weakest” is simply the word Gandhi chose to describe the voice, or lack of voice, of certain segments of our population. As we enter the last four weeks before election day, the residents of our city, our county, our state and our nation would be well advised to take a step back from the fray of political rhetoric and ask ourselves how are we treating the least empowered members of our society.
In Santa Ana, we stand at a crossroads along the paths of many groups who for too long have not had a voice at the table of political discourse. Among them, I would ask that we take a moment to think about:
1. Our Youth, who have traditionally been told to “sit and get” in school and in public. Young people now have a chance to step up and make a difference in our city, and we older people have a moral obligation to support the empowerment of younger people, as they will inherit our communities. I believe that every drop of energy, every penny, every opportunity invested in our youth can result in a ten-fold harvest of positive impact in the future. Young people who are connected to their families, their neighborhoods, and their schools, as well as athletic, community and faith-based organizations, are far less likely to engage in destructive activities, which harm themselves and those around them. I support efforts to give young people a voice and multiple vehicles for involvement, expression, and empowerment in Santa Ana.
2. Our Immigrants, who make up much of the working class here in Santa Ana. I spent Thanksgiving in New York City two years ago, and I had the chance to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Those immigrants who landed there are no different in most respects to those who have come to Santa Ana. In nearly 30 years of working with immigrants from México, Central America, Southeast Asia and other parts of the globe, seldom, if ever, have I heard a woman, man or child say that they prefer to be in Santa Ana more than in their native lands. But the political, economic and social conditions that they left behind combined to oblige them to leave that which was familiar, to start a new life in the United States. To fail to provide those who are here, those who have raised families here and contributed to our economy, with a pathway to legal status and citizenship would be a travesty. I support a Santa Ana that supports our immigrant community.
3. Our Homeless residents, who are some of the most vulnerable members of the community. I am proud of the progress we have made as a city toward requiring affordable housing as part of new developments, but it simply is not enough. As one who works day in and day out with youth and families who sleep in cars, in garages, or packed into single bedrooms in homes where four and five families share a dwelling built for a single family, I recognize the profound need for affordable housing in our city. The Civic Center, Santiago Creek, the railroad tracks near First Street, and the Santa Ana River are just some of the areas crying out for a coalition of city, county, state government leaders, in conjunction with the non-profit, faith, and business communities to organize our efforts to generate a gigantic increase in affordable units, as well as temporary and transitional housing for those living on the streets. Beyond housing, I also support treatment and training opportunities, to bring the homeless and underemployed into the economic mainstream of Santa Ana.
As a member of the city council, I intend to boost the volume of the voices of these groups, to bring them to the table and invite their full participation in the process of making Santa Ana a place that can serve as a model for cities across our nation, where all residents can live and thrive in safety, in health, and in prosperity.
Patrick D. “Mr. Patrick” Yrarrázaval-Correa
Candidate for Santa Ana City Council, Ward 3
May Peace Prevail on Earth
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