Posted February 28, 2014 by Editorial Staff in 2014

A Year Later – Michael Tubbs’ Reinvention Efforts Taking Hold by Aimee Allison

headshots - aimee allison & tubbs
headshots - aimee allison & tubbs

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Nearly two years after his groundbreaking City Council win in the California central valley city of Stockton, Michael Tubbs is now knee-deep in the business of governing. Back in 2012, PAC+ endorsed Tubbs as a recent Stanford graduate returning to his hometown because of his vision of “reinventing Stockton” with a series of progressive reforms that addressed the needs of the some 80% people of color who lived there. Like many cities throughout our country, Stockton faces tough challenges. California’s 13th largest city, Stockton was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy and suffering from a record number of homicides when he took office.

In addition to serving on City Council in Stockton, Michael is a full-time high school teacher. In fact, we caught up with him on a break between classes at Langston Hughes Academy where he teaches several college-level courses to eager teens; classes that include Introduction to Political Science and Ethnic Studies.

AA: What is your proudest achievement to date?
MT: I successfully led the effort to “ban the box” in Stockton. Employment applications for city jobs no longer require applicants to declare if they have been convicted of a crime – a barrier for the formerly incarcerated to find meaningful employment. I worked with our city’s human resource department and they made this an administrative change. This move signals to the community that we want to reconnect, and that we are committed to the formerly incarcerated getting jobs so they aren’t tempted to go back to a life of crime. It is on the books now.

AA: It sounds like you’re working a lot behind the scenes.
MT: Things are moving really fast. There’s no real training on how to be a council member. I just dug in and started talking to people, learning by doing. People respect initiative. As a leader, I realized that if I do the legwork myself, and propose good solutions, there are many ways to bring change.

AA: What’s happened since Stockton declared bankruptcy in 2012?
MT: I’ve advocated taking a long view for local budgeting. If we think more than four years ahead, our city can survive the boom and bust cycles that are part of the economy. In the past, 20-year projections were based on too narrow of a time frame, namely 2000-2005. Some people thought Stockton should act as a grant maker or a real estate broker. But I believe Stockton is most effective bringing different groups to the table. For example, I’m convening a group to establish a literacy project over the summer that includes the housing authority, the University of the Pacific and the United Way.


[Originally published at Pac+]