Joy Schendledecker

Justice In All Things:
Housing, Environment

About Joy

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.

Since running for mayor of Santa Cruz last year, I have completed the Conflict Resolution Center’s Community Mediation Training and completed a complex multi-media gallery installation for the “What’s Home: Creative Listening Across Differences” project. I was also elected to be an Assembly District Delegate to the California Democratic Party. 

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.

About Joy's Campaign

Campaign Promises

  • We won’t accept endorsements or contributions  from Real Estate or Police organizations
  • We won’t accept support from Political Action Committees that receive Real Estate or Police contributions
  • We won’t fundraise excessively or send out multiple, costly mailers

Top Issues:


  • Property Transfer Tax and other wealth taxes
  • Renter protections (for more than half of our residents!)
  • More “Yes” places for temporary and permanent housing 
  • Housing that fulfills the needs of everyone in our community: that reflects the income levels of our workers; is near schools, parks, and transportation; and is accessible for those with disabilities and access needs


  • 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

Representation and Governance

  • Publicly Financed Campaigns
  • Ranked Choice Voting
  • Fund Precinct Assemblies instead of using expensive and ineffective consultation processes
  • Constituent-led Planning and Permit Department

Joy is running for Santa Cruz City Council District 3  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 unequal 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!

District Elections

The City of Santa Cruz  transitioned to district elections last year, with 6 city districts and an at-large elected mayor. In 2024, City of Santa Cruz voters will complete the transition when they choose four new council members—one each from districts 1, 2, 3, and 5–for four-year terms.

This new way of doing things does not mean that Santa Cruz now has a ”strong mayor,” we 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.

Your district representative will be accountable to the approximately 10,000 residents in their precincts, but will continue to vote equally on city-wide issues.

About District 3

From University Terrace Park to West Cliff Drive, between Bay Street and Western Drive. Plus Neary Lagoon, half of the Circles, a good chunk of the Rail-Trail, and much of Mission Street: City of Santa Cruz District 3 defies simple characterizations.

Nearly half of our residents are renters, and about a third identify as BIPOC. “The Westside” has a reputation for being wealthy and white, but it’s much more complex and diverse than that. This is a place for longtime Santa Cruzans, students, families, newer transplants, and city workers. We have multi-million dollar single-family homes, ADUs hidden away, old and new multi-unit and multi-use apartments. We have people in transitional housing, seniors on fixed incomes, wealthy retired folks, students and younger workers bunked up in crowded houses, families struggling to meet mortgage and maintenance costs, tech commuters, and people living in vehicles and tents.

We also have a complex geography and arguably  the most important piece of infrastructure in the city–the Wastewater Treatment Facility at Neary Lagoon.

Nearly Lagoon alone is an amazing historical and biodiverse area, one which must have been of extreme importance to people of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi tribe who lived here before the Mission system and settler-colonialism. It is still important to members of the Amah Mutsun Tribal band, comprised of survivors of those genocides.

Mission Street is the gateway to Santa Cruz from the North, and is an important commercial and transportation asset for residents, visitors, and industry. Street safety for pedestrians and cyclists is of the utmost importance, as well as investing in Mission Street as our “Main Street” for walking, shopping, and dining. Learn more…