My name is Kayla Gomez and I am a student at UCSC currently working on a project to collect the demographic information of our elected officials by conducting a census. At the start of my work with SCCV, we thought it would be interesting to look at the makeup of our elected bodies. After calling both Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, their staff informed me that this data is not available and suggested that I should search the internet to find these answers.
If I want to understand, I will have to either dig deep and search through various sites-- possibly even order lists from the elections office for a fee. As much as I love an opportunity to practice my open source research skills, this would not be the most effective way to go about it. As entrepreneur and co-chair of the Kapor Center, Mitch Kapor put it, “Getting information off the internet is like taking a drink from a firehose.” I share this quote because it reminds me of the overwhelming amount of unorganized information available online. When it comes to who is representing us, this information should be available and easily accessible since most of our community members don’t have hours upon hours to spend searching for bits of information.
The policies our local leaders form and vote on directly affect our communities so it is important that these leaders do in fact reflect the diversity of our county. In partnership with Santa Cruz Community Ventures, I hope to conduct a census that will help us gather data on the demographics of our current leaders within the Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. If we had demographic data for our boards, councils and commissions, it could help us identify any gaps and we could work together to ensure that we move toward filling these gaps. With that said, I will be keeping you all up to date throughout this process by writing blog posts with updates.
Kayla Gomez, SCCV Team Member