Measure Q, a countywide childcare initiative, fails at the ballot box, while school bonds succeed. | News


Despite having strong support from the largest industries in the county— agriculture and hospitality—along with city and county leaders and grassroots organizations, Measure Q fell far short of passing on Election Day, Nov. 8.

The countywide measure would have added a $49-per-year parcel tax to most properties, providing an estimated $5.5 million in revenue every year for 10 years to support recruitment, training and retention of early childcare providers to help fill a gap in the county. The funds would have been overseen by an oversight committee and administered by First 5 Monterey County.

Measure Q volunteers made calls, knocked on doors and sent out text message reminders in English and Spanish urging supporters to vote, but the measure—which requires just a simple majority to pass—was far short, with just 40 percent of the vote as of midnight on Wednesday morning. It lags by a 10,665-vote margin.

Kevin Dayton, who is involved with various business and taxpayer groups, says he was disappointed with the outcome. “It’s possible that this was fairly innovative,” he says. “Very few local governments have attempted to set a tax explicitly dedicated solely to child care.” 

Dayton says he wants to look at the turnout and demographics to find out what went wrong. In May, volunteers worked against the clock to get enough signatures to get Measure Q on the November ballot. In June, the committee announced at Hartnell College they had gathered over 10,000 signatures, more than enough to qualify for a countywide vote.

“Childcare will continue to be a critical issue for working families,” the Measure Q committee wrote in a press release acknowledging defeat. “We believe our efforts have brought this critical issue to light and raised awareness of the needs of our community.”

In Monterey County, there are about 36,000 kids under the age of 5 and only 1 out of 4 have access to childcare and/or early education programs. 

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During the pandemic, access to childcare become even more scarce and workers—mostly women—had to choose between work or taking care of their children. The measure was aiming for two concurrent goals: On the surface provide access to early childhood education/childcare in Monterey County and, in consequence, enabling working parents to return to the workforce. 

Dayton says cities and the county should seek alternatives to provide childcare services, such as making zoning changes to allow childcare providers in residential neighborhoods. 

Maria Rodriguez, a volunteer for Measure Q and member of advocacy groups Mujeres en Accion and COPA, says in Spanish that access to childcare is a necessity: “We work with families and we witness the need they have, working during the day and not having access to childcare.” Rodriguez says many parents have their kids on a long waiting list. If it didn’t pass, she said, “I’ll be really sad because kids really need it.”

Simon Salinas, a retired county supervisor and state assemblymember who worked previously as an elementary school teacher, says many people forget about kids who are under 5 years old. “It’s so critical to reach those children that age,” Salinas said, while awaiting the first election results before the first election results came out at a Measure Q watch party at Digital Nest in Salinas. “A lot of kids that don’t have access to quality childcare, they start falling behind.”

Salinas says he saw firsthand the difference in kids who had access to early childhood education versus those who didn’t: “You could see the children who were ready to sit down for 10, 15 minutes and grab a pencil and crayons and start drawing.”

Education funding overall had a good showing at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Four bond measures in three school districts—all of which require 55 percent of the vote to pass—are positioned to pass, or close to it. 

Measure G and H in Salinas City Elementary School District are ahead with 61 percent and 60 percent of the vote, respectively, as of the most recent vote count at midnight Wednesday morning. Measure R in Santa Rita Union School District in North Salinas leads with 61 percent of the vote. And in Washington Union Elementary School District, located outside of Salinas along Highway 68, Measure K has 54.8 percent of the vote—not enough to pass, but potentially within reach as additional ballots are tallied in the coming days.

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