Los Angeles, April 22 – Candidate for the L.A. City Council Dulce Vasquez has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.
One-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group. It is also the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, there are approximately one million people living in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area with some form of disability.
Polls show that the majority of voters have either a disability or a loved one with a disability. Voters with disabilities and their families are up for grabs – and the actions campaigns take to reach out to these voters can make the difference between winning and losing.
Vasquez is running in the primary to represent the 9th District in the L.A. City Council.
Below are Vasquez’s unedited responses:
1) Education and Skills: What steps will you take to ensure that students with disabilities of all backgrounds have what they need to succeed?
As an educator, the issue of increasing access to a quality education is incredibly personal to me. While the City Council does not oversee education, I would work with LAUSD school board members to host language-accessible workshops for parents to understand their rights and options when accessing accommodations for their children. We will also help facilitate the process of students getting testing accommodations for statewide and admissions tests and provide support for students with disabilities to explore college and career opportunities. I would work to ensure schools are physically accessible to people with disabilities and ensure that armed officers are removed from schools and fund more hiring trained guidance counselors and social workers.
In addition, I will work with LAUSD to ensure that there are affordable screenings for Learning Disabilities and ADHD starting from transitional Kindergarten, all the way up to 12th grade. While simultaneously working to combat the stigma associated with being diagnosed with a disability in school. All students should be able to reach their full potential. Unfortunately many students are not receiving academic accommodations because they have not been able to be diagnosed with an LD or ADHD. This has severe impacts on students: they fall behind and repeat a grade, dislike of school, drop out of school, low self-esteem, underemployment and increased chances of being part of the criminal justice system. The other side of that coin is that children diagnosed with a disability run the risk of being treated differently than their peers by both students and adults. Examples of this have included being given less challenging tasks even though the student is capable of more challenging work and bullying. Fear of this type of treatment has caused parents to refuse that their child get tested for LDs or ADHD; as well as diagnosed students having low self esteem because they are looked down as being inferior to their peers. Therefore, it is imperative that there is a community-wide effort to destigmatize students with disabilities.
2) Access and Inclusion: Whether or not you have a formal platform, what specific plans do you have to incorporate the voices of people with disabilities into your decision-making processes, if elected? What steps, if any, have you taken to make your campaign accessible for people with disabilities and to ensure that our voices are heard?
People with disabilities should have an important voice in the decisions made by LA City Council and local governing bodies that are meant to represent their interests. I would work with neighborhood councils in my district to ensure that their meetings are accessible to people with disabilities and I would apply that same standard to city council meetings as well. I also believe that we need to review how physically accessible city owned buildings are and make the appropriate retrofits to ensure that people with disabilities have no problems navigating their way in the building.
We have done extensive outreach to the community and will continue to do extensive outreach to ensure people with disabilities feel represented in my campaign.
3) Homelessness, Poverty, and Equity: What is your plan to address homelessness among your constituents, to work with other organizations to address the issue in the region, and to coordinate with other municipalities to create more affordable and accessible housing?
One of the biggest problems we have in the city is that we have a fractured approach to addressing homelessness. Every single council member has their own approach to a problem that requires coordination across city council and between the county & state. If elected, I would have a 4 person outreach team dedicated solely to building trust and connecting unhoused individuals to services. I would also work with my fellow council members to create a unified strategy around homelessness. We need to invest in building more supportive housing and shelters to house individuals and invest in our public health infrastructure – more public restrooms, public showers, water fountains, trash cans – and make them accessible to folks with disabilities.
I believe we need to proactively intervene early to ensure that tenants who are at risk of becoming unhoused aren’t, which means we need to strengthen tenant protections and fund solutions to address rent like rental relief and building more affordable housing.
4) Other Priorities: What other policies that impact people with disabilities are you ready and eager to work on? What is your plan to involve your constituents with disabilities in key decision-making processes?
Angelenos with disabilities should have the ability to safely work, play, and travel in the city. We need to build more workforce housing that’s accessible to people with disabilities. I would build more parks and green spaces in the district and work to ensure that current green spaces are more accessible to people with disabilities by creating more ramps, widening walkways, etc. I also believe that we need to remove law enforcement from calls that do not relate to violent crime so that they do not present a danger to people with disabilities.
RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. View more coverage of 2022 candidates.