When Kaia Eakin saw that her neighborhood of 20 years–Redwood Oaks– was in a newly created district after going through an extensive redistricting process, she decided to explore the possibility of seeking to represent that district.
It wasn’t long before Eakin took action on that feeling and, in her words, continue her “desire to be more involved [and] make a difference in my corner of the world.”
Born in Redwood City, Eakin has lived in San Mateo County her entire life, having gone to Woodside High School and the College of Notre Dame in Belmont. Redwood City is a vibrant, welcoming city, a place that has always felt like home for her, she said.
Eakin spent seven years on Redwood City’s Historic Resources Advisory Committee; she was a child advocate with CASA of San Mateo County for 15 years and a Redwood City’s Chamber of Commerce Leadership Academy graduate.
Eakin’s involvement in local government began when she started taking classes in Redwood City’s Partnership Academy for Community Teamwork program. PACT was a Redwood City program that gave residents a behind-the-scenes look inside the city government. The civics-like class was where she learned about the various city departments and met with city staff and council.
Eakin is the lone candidate running for district 5, but she said she is prepared to “show up and listen” to all residents in Redwood City to learn about the issues affecting them.
“Don’t just assume you know; ask,” she said. “That’s very key. I will work hard and I will connect with people on a fundamental level, whatever the immediate issue is.”
Overall, Eakin agrees with the priorities set by the current city council and city manager, including housing affordability and homelessness, youth and children, and transportation.
The city, she said, has a reputation for being very well run. She’s pleased with how the city has been managed.
She said she is proud that the city has invested more than $1 million in helping unhoused individuals and that during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city gave hundreds of grants to renters in emergency rental assistance.
“I'm proud to live in a city like that and hope to help the city continue to address issues that all the cities on the peninsula are addressing,” Eakin said.
During the county’s one day homeless count conducted in February, officials found that the homeless population in the county had grown by 21% from 2019 to 2022. While there were a total of 1,808 homeless individuals counted that day, Redwood City had the highest number of unsheltered homeless individuals at 22% of 1,092 people.
Eakin lauded the recent land swap between the city and the county, a multi-million dollar deal that government officials hope will help address the needs of unhoused individuals and provide wrap-around services, such as mental health services, employment services and addiction services.
And while she said she believes the city has been compassionate in its allocation of resources for homeless programs, the “amount of money the city is currently spending is unsustainable” without the help of community partners and other agencies.
Speaking on the topic of budgets, Eakin said the city was providing the same amount of services with less tax revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city is projected to lose millions of dollars in the coming years.
“[The COVID] pandemic did create an unanticipated deficit,” she said. “But I believe that prudent management and the projections show that there will be a surplus in the future years. I’m not in favor of cutting services for parks and libraries.”
The city has been creative in finding ways to invest in small businesses and connect with the city’s top employers.
“The city is striving and encouraging the idea of putting family entertainment spaces where we now have vacant space in our downtown at ground level,” she said.
Child and youth advocacy is one of Eakin’s central priorities. Through her advocacy with CASA, she’s helped sponsor and raise two children, a major achievement in her life, calling it a privilege to “help them grown and help them have the resources to thrive in way they want.”
As for an issue that deserves attention, Eakin said that she is concerned about how climate change disproportionately affects residents in underserved areas.
“Because they live in less resilient areas, areas more [vulnerable] to flooding or bad air,” she said, adding that it was the responsibility of the city council to introduce measures aimed at reducing the impacts of climate change at the local level, including by joining forces with nonprofits and organizations who are already working on remediation solutions.