Jovanka Beckles: Vote “Yes” on Measure N to create mentally and physically healthy children

The campaign signs read, “More sports + less sodas = healthy kids.”

A tax on sugar sweetened beverages is designed to raise money to provide opportunities for our young people to participate in healthy organized sports. It promises to yield benefits that are priceless to our community, including an increase in both the mental and physical health of our youth. A beneficial byproduct of this improved mental and physical well-being is a decrease in crime, as children are busy and do not have idle time that can sometimes lead them to become involved in criminal activities.

Children who participate in sports not only become physically more healthy, they also learn values that lead to increased self-esteem and increased respect for others and the environment. When children are busy participating in sports, they are more likely to do well in school and to attend college and lead satisfying, successful lives.

In a city like Richmond where large numbers of families cannot afford sports programs, it is important that we all chip in to help. We know that the funds do not exist to pay for these programs. Although I wish it was not so, the only way to get these advantages for our children is to pay for them ourselves. Our children are too precious for us to stand by. We must do what we can so our children will have the conditions needed to create healthy minds and bodies.

Money raised from measure N will allow the city of Richmond to invest in a new sports field every year; allow all Richmond children to play sports by helping with full and partial club tuition; teach every Richmond 3rd grader to swim at the Richmond Plunge or Kennedy Swim Center; pay for medical care for uninsured diabetic kids; expand after school sports programs and offer nutrition education and cooking classes to Richmond children and parents.

Measure N requires a simple majority vote which goes into the general fund. The Richmond City Council chose to take this route because the right-wing in California has made it very difficult for municipalities to pass measures to help ourselves by requiring that new taxes be passed with a 2/3 majority vote if they have specific designations. Case in point: although the school bond received 66% of the votes in the last election, it failed because it required a full 2/3 vote. That is why Measure N puts the money in the General Fund and comes with an accompanying measure; O. A yes vote on Measure O puts the community voice on record that the funds be used to fight for increased health and wellness of our youth. I signed a community pledge, as have other council members and two progressive candidates for city council, Marilyn Langlois and Eduardo Martinez. Only two council members and the candidates who oppose Measure N have refused to pledge to follow the will of the Richmond voters on Measure O to direct these funds to youth health programs.

I’m willing to invest in our children because I know that healthy children become the successful, healthy adults that will lead to a flourishing, vibrant city. That’s an investment worth making.

Jovanka Beckles

Council Member, City of Richmond

Children’s Mental Health Specialist, Contra Costa County

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3 Comments

  1. Felix Hunziker

    Jovanka’s editorial is well-intended but she’s mistaken about the 2/3 majority being from the “right wing”. That requirement was put into place by California voters in 1978 to curb government excess and we know it as the controversial Prop 13.

    More importantly, she neglects to mention that this Sugar Tax will generally not be paid those living in Point Richmond, Marina Bay, Richmond Heights and other well-off neighborhoods. As they already do, these wealthier residents will continue to shop outside our City, avoiding the tax altogether while Richmond’s poor pay at our corner markets and fast food joints. That won’t, however, stop the wealthier residents from taking advantage of any benefits the tax may bring, so exactly how is this Sugar Tax fair to our underserved communities?

    Even with the advisory measure the spending plans for the tax revenue are not guaranteed and Jovanka doesn’t appear to realize that a single sports field can cost $2M – $4M, the entire anticipated annual revenue of this tax. This leaves nothing for other programs and leaves Richmond’s poor paying for improvements that serve a very small, select group of people.

    I wholeheartedly agree that we should fight obesity and starting a pilot project in Richmond can be the seed for greater change. But NOT when that tax punishes our poor and exempts our wealthier residents. Voting for this hyper-regressive tax because it has a good cause is like charging a malnourished child for food stamps.

    Please vote NO on Measure N.

  2. Juan Reardon

    This is a voluntary tax. Soda is not food. Sugary drinks damage the health of children. They are as bad or worse than cigarettes.Don’t want to pay the extra tax? Don’t buy poison.Your kids will thank you for it. Those who will continue to buy will be charge a dime to help Richmond kids practice sports and fight obesity. The Richmond children will thank you for voting YES on Measure N: Less Soda + More Sports = Healthy Children.

    See the community support of Measure N: http://www.Fit-for-LIFE.org/supporters/

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