Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian
Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian is running for Congress. Photo courtesy of Simitian's campaign.

There are few things I feel are more fortunate about my life than the fact that I grew up in a time where the middle class in our country was strong.

This allowed for my folks to raise me with all of the comforts one might expect from the American dream. As the years went by I noticed a disturbing trend where it was becoming increasingly difficult to attain the status of middle class, let alone maintain it. I wasn’t even in my 30s yet when I went through the second economic meltdown of my adulthood, now known as the subprime mortgage crisis.

Cut to a little over a decade later where I faced my third — and hopefully last — as a global pandemic completely upturned our way of life and my business was forced to shut down. What was only supposed to be two weeks became closer to two years. With zero new income besides what meager temporary assistance the government was providing at the time, I was forced to draw from my savings. Every time I did so, I’d feel the dream of home ownership slip further from my grasp. I began to realize that I may be the first generation of my family to have less than the one which came before.

I was like millions of my fellow Americans, who had worked hard their entire life and somehow had so little to show for it. I became angry and disillusioned with the do-nothing divisive politicians who seem to serve no one except themselves and their corporate donors. I decided to get active within my community and volunteer time to help where I could.

Ultimately, I decided to run for Campbell City Council with the hopes that I could help even more people. I’m proud to say I won that election and have been working hard ever since.

Soon after Election Day, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian invited me to have lunch with him. I’ve now been on the job for more than a year and have met countless representatives, yet he’s the only one who took the time out of his busy schedule to sit down with me.

I could tell he genuinely wanted to know what were the most important issues to me, and I was eager to share them as I said, “In such divided times, there’s an irony in the fact that most Americans would stand united in their disappointment or outright disdain for their elected officials. They see endless tax breaks for the rich while homeless encampments continue to grow under every bridge in every city across the land. They see that those bridges are falling to pieces after decades of neglect. They ask why the price of chicken has doubled at the supermarket over the last year.”

Joe nodded his head in understanding before I finished with, “I care about the middle class and I fear that it’s being left behind.”

Joe’s response: “You mean how massive corporations get a lot of attention from politicians and people on the lower end of the economic spectrum have some support, but no one is focusing on the many folks in our community who make what we consider a decent living but are still struggling? The missing middle?”

Seeing that he understood, I grinned ear to ear before dipping another fry in ketchup.

Silicon Valley is a prime example of what happens when the gap between the wealthy and not-so-wealthy keeps growing.  Joe has made the “missing middle” a priority, leading the way for the county to subsidize life saving medications, expand access to health care and build affordable housing for educators.

I feel confident that Joe is not going to forget about the struggling middle class — he wants to strengthen it. That’s something that will help individuals, families, communities and our region as a whole. That’s why I’m advocating for Joe Simitian for U.S. Congress.

Elliot Scozzola represents District 4 on the Campbell City Council and was elected in 2022.

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