Joy Schendledecker

Justice In All Things: Housing, Jobs, Environment

Meet Joy

I am a community organizer, artist, and parent living in the Westside of Santa Cruz. I am a member of the Working Families Party; Democratic Socialists of America, Santa Cruz, and am on the organizing committees of Sanitation for the People and Santa Cruz Cares.

My experience in twenty years of community organizing has taught me to never make assumptions about people, to watch and listen carefully before jumping in, and that gardens bring out people’s most passionate opinions. 

I put my career on partial-pause for many years to take care of my children, but even during that time I stayed involved in civic life, including 2 years of service on the local primary school Board of Governors while living in London.

Artists are trained to be keen observers and critical thinkers. For me the best art is poetic, political, and relational, helping the audience see new possibilities for justice and organizing through community connections. Being an artist can be training for many occupations, including politics, and I will bring that training to my leadership role in City Council.

Working from a justice-based ethos to improve life for those at the bottom will improve quality of life for all of us in Santa Cruz. With trickle-up policies, we will have less poverty, with fewer crimes of desperation. We will have less fear and more connection. We have the resources to take care of each other, we just need to make decisions that will get us there—with protections for the precarious, progressive taxation, and reallocation of funds.

“As I’ve become older I feel more confident about speaking out about my views… I’d like to inspire more people to get involved in local politics because it can be very intimidating”

What we Believe

Top 3 issues:


  • Empty Home Tax and other wealth taxes
  • Renter protections (for more than half of our residents!)
  • More “Yes” places for temporary and permanent housing 
  • Truly affordable housing for workers, near jobs


  • Unequivocal support for workers and unions
  • More city employees on the ground, with higher wages
  • Improved workplace conditions for all workers 


  • Community-led responses to the climate crisis
  • Maintain and increase public ownership of land and other assets 
  • Infrastructure by and for the public, not private interests 
  • Improved public transportation as a foundation for true equity

Joy is running for Mayor as part of a working-class movement: we want to increase participatory democracy across our communities. We want to hold fellow Council members and city decision-makers accountable for the positive, aspirational policies and declarations they have made and contest the policies and practices that are unjust or maintain the status quo. We need to break through polarized rhetoric, continual blocking, and Real Estate fingers in every pot, and instead work together–with us, for us–to improve the lives of the majority of Santa Cruzans–the underpaid and overworked, tenants, essential workers, teachers, nurses, students, young people, people who care. Let’s build our power; let’s have more grassroots and less astroturf!

About Our Campaign

TRANSITIONING TO DISTRICT ELECTIONS The City of Santa Cruz is transitioning to district elections this year, and with the passage of Measure E on June 7th, we now have 6 districts with an at-large elected mayor. This November 8th, City of Santa Cruz voters will choose a city-wide mayor and 2 new council members—one each from district 4 and district 6–for 4-year terms. In 2024 districts 1, 2, 3, and 5 will be on the ballot. This new way of doing things does not mean that Santa Cruz will have a ”strong mayor,” we will still have a council-manager structure of governance. We believe that this new mayor should be working as an equal with other council members, as a team. The position is not one of authority over or mentorship of, but as a collaborator with peers to negotiate difficult decisions and lead city staff. The mayor can and should set the tone and structure for meetings and the community at large, but does not have a larger vote than anyone else.