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Tuesday November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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City of Santa CruzCandidate for City Council

Photo of Maria Cadenas

Maria Cadenas

Nonprofit Executive Director
10,397 votes (10.26%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Equity: The corona virus pandemic and the murder of George Floyd laid bare the racial inequities in our society. It is time to re-imagine and actively work to build a more equitable future for all.
  • Economic Recovery: Let's center our recovery in ways that lift our local small businesses and center our work on those most impacted - women and people of color.
  • A Home for All: We must ensure our families are not priced out of their family homes and neighborhoods. We have to take a holistic approach, to ensure housing affordability and stability for our residents.



I am a problem solver and doer. I get things done by focusing on what matters most – people and planet. 

For over 20 years, I have developed practical solutions that improve people’s lives. I have worked with governments, corporations, nonprofits, and policy makers across the world, U.S., California, and in our region. I have raised $2.7 million in COVID-19 relief aid in four months, established Santa Cruz SEEDS to provide newborns with college savings accounts, provided technical assistance to entrepreneurs, worked to increase affordable housing, created internship programs for youth of color, and launched a housing program for children aging out of foster care.

I envision a Santa Cruz with thriving locally owned businesses, affordable housing, living wage jobs, and strong public transit. I will work regionally and with the State and Federal governments to bring resources to our city.  

I will ensure that the diverse lived experiences of our residents inform city decisions. As a single mom, Executive Director of Santa Cruz Community Ventures, a Latina, and a proud resident of Santa Cruz for almost ten years, this is personal to me. 

I look forward to working with you to build a #SantaCruz4All.  


Soy una persona trabajadora que sabe resolver problemas. Hago mis decisiones con un enfoque en el pueblo y el planeta.

Por más de 20 años, he desarrollado soluciones prácticas que mejoran la comunidad. He trabajado con gobiernos, corporaciones, organizaciones sin fines de lucro y formuladores de políticas a nivel mundial, en Estados Unidos, California y nuestra región. He recaudado US$2.7 millones para ayudar con el impacto de la pandemia, establecí Semillitas un programa que proporciona una cuenta de ahorros para los estudios universitarios de los recién nacidos, he ofrecido ayuda técnica a empresarios, aumente la vivienda asequible, y establecí programas para jóvenes.

Imagino a Santa Cruz como una ciudad con negocios locales, viviendas asequibles, empleos con salarios dignos y transporte público. Trabajaré regionalmente y con los gobiernos estatales y federales para atraer recursos a nuestra ciudad.

Me aseguraré de que las diversas experiencias de nuestros residentes informen las decisiones de la ciudad. Como madre soltera, directora ejecutiva de Santa Cruz Community Ventures, inquilina, latina, y orgullosa residente de Santa Cruz durante casi diez años, esto es importante para mí.

 Espero trabajar con ustedes para construir una ciudad para todos.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

For over two decades I have worked to support all families so that they may thrive where they live and work. I get things done by focusing on what matters most - people and planet.

​I have worked with governments, small businesses, workers, nonprofits, and policy makers across the U.S., California, and in our region to thoughtfully develop practical and equitable solutions that actually work to improve people's lives.

My recent work includes founding UndocuFund Monterey Bay, a collaborative effort  leading relief efforts to support undocumented workers impacted by the pandemic. Under my leadership Santa Cruz Community Ventures launched Santa Cruz SEEDS, creating a college savings account program for newborns in Santa Cruz County and worked to strengthen our local economy in ways that support locally owned businesses and working families in Santa Cruz. 

I fought against 9/11 racial backlash in my role as Associate Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. We supported Muslim and Latino immigrant communities who were being targeted under intensified deportation raids. I worked closely with health and government partners to advocate for domestic partner benefits and environmental justice issues facing the City of Milwaukee.

During my tenure as the Executive Director of the Cream City Foundation, the second oldest LGBTQ+ foundation in the country, we developed new housing units for LGBTQ+ youth aging out of foster care, worked on a racial equity initiative across the country, and led efforts to adopt LGBTQ+ friendly policies at major corporations like Harley Davidson, Manpower, and Northwestern Mutual. While at the Cream City Foundation, I also led a 3 year bilingual public education campaign educating citizens about LGBTQ+ families like mine.

As Driscoll's Senior Community Involvement Manager, where I worked in partnerships between government, education, and corporate sponsors across the Americas to create career pipelines that would allow economic mobility for farmworkers.

Santa Cruz has been my home for almost 10 years. This is the city where my daughter learned to ride her bike. Today, we are being called to step up as friends and neighbors to write the next chapter for the city we love. We are being called on to lead our recovery and rebuilding in ways that re-imagine and demonstrate that all are valued, valuable, and worthy. ​Let's make sure that Santa Cruz is a city where people from all backgrounds belong, are welcomed, and have the opportunity to thrive. ​

I am running for Santa Cruz City Council out of love for our city and to continue to serve families. Let's build a #SantaCruz4All.   Maria Cadenas is not a career politician. She is a mother, an immigrant, a renter, and a proud resident of Santa Cruz. She believes in leadership that flows from compassion and care for one another, putting people and planet first. 

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