Michael Graves was inspired to run for City Council after volunteering for Bernie Sanders and campaigning to be a DNC Delegate. “I want to be the change I want to see in my city. I want to ensure the decisions of the City Council are truly representative of the various and diverse communities in Ventura.” Graves said. “I was shocked to learn that in a city that is 30% Latino, there has never been a Latino on the council.” Graves, who is Mexican, Spanish and Cherokee lives in Midtown with his wife, daughter, and their rescue cat, Hercules. As a Special Needs Attendant, he works with adults with disabilities to help them reach their personal goals.
Graves understands the struggles of Ventura’s working middle-class families, and the impoverished. For part of his childhood, his family was forced to live in a homeless shelter due to his father’s “poor priorities.” After a while they settled into San Diego’s barrio, Logan Heights. This experience built a strong sense of compassion towards individuals who are often overlooked in our society, be they disabled, homeless, or living with mental illness. “Homelessness is an economic issue, not a criminal one,” said Graves. He feels the same about people struggling with drugs and alcohol. “Labels like ‘addict’ or ‘chronically vagrant’ only strengthens the concept of ‘Us vs Them’. These are people that need our help, not our judgement.”
That sense of compassion is the reason he is a very vocal supporter of Prop 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. “My grandfather is in the late stages of prostate cancer. He was wasting away… in so much pain. Medical cannabis brought him back from the brink.” Graves mentions his friend, an Iraq Veteran, who returned home with a severe neck injury and a few less vertebrae. “He used to live in constant pain, even while using highly addictive opioids. Cannabis relieves his pain without doping him up. Now he can earn a living and has a great quality of life.”
Going further, Graves wants Ventura to roll back the bans on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries. “I have clients whom are disabled, who can’t drive. They shouldn’t have to rely on a stranger coming into their house just to get their medication.” While other council members fear marijuana stores would increase crime, Graves cites government statics that show otherwise.
“Local delivery drivers are being robbed of cash and product, yet Colorado has seen a decrease in crime and DUI’s.” Removing the ban would also increase tax revenue for the City’s law enforcement, youth programs and environmental restoration.
Graves also supports Prop 59 to overturn Citizen’s United, Prop 61 to keep medications affordable, and SOAR.
“I find it offensive that the people of Ventura are being asked to pay more taxes, while at the same time council members want to double their own income. I’m doing this for the people, not for the money.”