Sacramento, Calif.- by Robert J Hansen
Co-founder of Improve Your Tomorrow, Michael Lynch, recently announced that he is running for Sacramento City Council in newly redrawn District 3.
Lynch, 33, was born in San Jose and moved to Sacramento in 2002, and holds a master’s degree in public policy development from Sacramento State.
His organization helps young men of color get into college and since 2013, Improve Your Tomorrow has helped thousands of young men of color and currently serves 3,000 students at 55 schools in five counties.
Lynch also has experience creating legislation working at the Capitol as a senior advisor to a state assembly member. He helped create legislation that helps fund Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating substandard housing.
Redistricting created an open seat which was part of Lynch’s motivation for running for city council.
“There was an immediate opportunity without an incumbent to make an impact in the city that I love so much,” Lynch said.
This interview was edited for clarity.
Q: What made you decide to run for the city council?
A: The city council helps to create conditions in which young people and families can thrive. I’m running for city council to help increase youth opportunities, build more affordable housing and create stronger communities.
Q: What goals do you have in running for city council?
A: I Can tell you the future of a city by the success of its young people. The city of Sacramento unfortunately has not provided the resources for enough of its young people to succeed. We need small starter obligations to make sure that we are investing in the future of our city by investing in young people.
Another one is, go across the city of Sacramento and what it shows is a consistent housing crisis both for the homeless or unsheltered population as well as housing affordability. One of my top priorities as a council member is to solve the problem of continuous housing affordability. And the last one is about stronger communities. Recognizing that violence has increased in the City of Sacramento, we need clear violence prevention strategies and investments to make sure that all of our communities can be safer.
Q: How would you address the rising gun violence and theft that we in Sacramento are experiencing?
A: That’s an important question. One of the most important jobs of a council member is to create safe communities. Crime has gone up in Sacramento, that’s evident. One way is to make sure there is an appropriate ratio to the population and the level of staffing in the police department and another is to make sure that we have trust in the community between officers and its residents. The longer-term approach is critical. If you want to make Sacramento the biggest, safest city in America what you have to have is secure, long-term employment and housing options. With those combinations, you can have a safe community.
Q: What is your take on “defund the police?”
A: I believe that we need a well-trained and well-staffed police department. There’s no doubt about that. But at the same time, we have to make sure that we are making similar investments and violence prevention strategies. If you want safe communities a big part of it is prevention, a big part of it is an investment in young people and vulnerable young people to make sure we do not continue the cycle of the school to prison pipeline.
Q: What concerns are you hearing from your community?
A: When you drive down Northgate Boulevard, what you see is a lack of economic development. Job creation outside of retail or restaurants there is a lack of ability to have a livable wage. Job creation and community blight are important across the Northgate corridor. It’s important to figure out a way to better support small businesses. There is a thriving entrepreneurial spirit throughout that community but what you find is often the support structures to sustain and grow your small business. I want to make Sacramento the easiest place in the world to start a business.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say to voters?
A: The reason why I’m running is just to be able to improve outcomes for those who have been left behind. The elected office is a platform. The City council has the ability to impact people's lives. I’m running to be able to make sure that everybody has an opportunity to achieve their own dream.