You may have spotted his crescent-adorned yard sign sticking out of the dirt in the empty lot on the corner of Water and Ocean, or caught his commercial as you channel-surfed from your couch on a quiet Tuesday night.
Amid the advertisement blitz that accompanies every election period, Santa Cruz city council candidate Kevin Moon stands out, but for the wrong reason: his antagonization of the UC Santa Cruz population.
In his recently released commercial, Moon — who was born and raised in Santa Cruz and now works as an insurance executive — stands in front of a whiteboard wearing a collared shirt and a smile as he introduces you to the current city council board.
“There are seven council members,” Moon begins. “Seven have UCSC connections. Six are government or nonprofit employees. One is a lifetime resident, and none are from the east side of Santa Cruz.”
Moon goes on to highlight his attributes as a family man and local business owner and closes the 30-second spot by promising that he will change the status quo in Santa Cruz — without further elaborating on what he means.
However, what Moon may or may not realize is that this ad does little more than perpetuate the status quo that he claims to be against: us and them — the idea that UC Santa Cruz students and local residents are diametrically opposed groups.
By insinuating that the relationship between all current city council members and the university should be looked down upon, Moon is falsely suggesting that city council members who have ties to UCSC are unqualified or untrustworthy.
If you look up the backgrounds of each of the current council members on the website of the city of Santa Cruz, you will find that many of them have been important, positive figureheads within the UCSC population.
Two of the most notable members, Mayor Mike Rotkin and Vice Mayor Ryan Coonerty, both teach at UCSC: Rotkin as a community studies professor and Coonerty as a politics lecturer. Besides serving as mayor of Santa Cruz, Rotkin also coordinates the community studies field study and serves as a primary representative of the UC-AFT union for lecturers.
Coonerty, meanwhile, worked to authorize an ordinance that allowed for affordable local housing for teachers and negotiated a settlement with UCSC to protect Santa Cruz’s housing and water supplies and promote alternative forms of transportation within the city.
In addition, council members Don Lane and Lynn Robinson are alumni of UCSC. Lane, who studied politics and history at UCSC in the 1970s, served as mayor for one term and is associate director of the Homeless Services Center. Robinson, who graduated in 1982 with a studio arts degree, went on to co-found local community activism organization Santa Cruz Neighbors.
These council members show that having local politicians who are wholly familiar with UCSC and who may even moonlight as professors or representatives is beneficial to students and the community as a whole, because they can better understand issues and concerns within the university and start a dialogue between the university and the city. These politicians can serve as middlemen to connect students and faculty with non-UCSC residents who also call Santa Cruz their home in order to encourage a more positive, peaceful coexistence.
Moon “wants to provide new ideas to move Santa Cruz forward,” according to his website. But through his negative reference to UCSC in his campaign commercial, Moon is simply relying on the “us-versus-them” dichotomy that has thrived for far too long in this college town. He’s also alienating thousands of students who are registered to vote in Santa Cruz County.
To make amends with his constituents, Moon might want to reevaluate his anti-UCSC sentiments with a clean whiteboard and a drive up the hill.