Correction: An earlier version of this article was published in the print edition. This version is updated to reflect recent changes to Caltrain’s electrification.
Trump’s first 100 days in the White House have brought nationwide change. However, his policies have also affected the local politics of both San Mateo and California. Trump’s aims range from rolling back Obamacare, cutting back on the fight against global warming and tightening immigration laws, all of which impact the daily lives of San Mateo citizens.
A local project, the electrification of Caltrain, had been temporarily halted due the Trump administration withholding funds for the project. However, the administration later approved he project on Monday, May 22. The effort was to change the diesel trains to electric, in order to reduce the impact on the environment, and more importantly, increase the speed and efficiency of the trains, allowing them to boost daily ridership to 110,000, from the current state of 65,000 a day. The ultimate goal was aimed at improving both local traffic and the current public transportation system. The primary opposition to the effort comes from California Republicans in Congress, who were backed by the President’s administration.
San Mateo City Mayor David Lim speaks on the transportation issues facing San Mateo, saying, “The biggest impact has been defunding of electrification of Caltrain. [We were] planning on adding a rail crossing at 25th Ave., however with funds withheld, that project is temporarily halted. [The major issue is] we can’t help relieve some of the traffic in the county.” With the project being newly approved, the hope is that the improvements to Caltrain will happen in due time.
Along with transportation issues, Trump’s attempted travel bans have brought a downturn in tourism, hitting San Francisco the hardest, at least among Bay Area cities. Tourism is an important industry in the Bay Area, and the downturn can lead to a loss of revenue and jobs.
For San Mateo, Lim offers his concerns about Trump’s foreign policy, saying, “I fear for kids in school, especially those who come from immigrant families, and so we try to take steps to assure people that the local city of San Mateo continues to be welcoming to all residents.”
In health care, a news release from Covered California, the State’s health care website, says, “Analysis shows lower-income Californians, particularly those who are older and live in high-cost areas, would be negatively impacted by the proposed changes; Updated analysis using Congressional Budget Office findings and historic trends finds that premiums are likely to be 15 to 20 percent higher under the American Health Care Act; Under the American Health Care Act, many Californians would need to spend more than a quarter of their income on health insurance premiums.”
California’s health care system looks to take a sharp turn if the American Health Care Act gets passed. The House passed the act in early May, and it is currently being evaluated by the Senate.
Senior Aaron Kranzler lends his opinion, saying, “The only impacts I have noticed in this area are the scared reactions of those who might be affected by his policies. In terms of [other] effects, I haven’t really noticed any.”
Kranzler adds, “I’m not happy with the administration’s actions, as the laws being signed [demonstrate] a disregard for the livelihood and rights of others. The administration does try to achieve good goals, such as increasing national security and jobs, but the way the administration goes about doing this is not only incorrect on a human level but also incorrect on a logical level, since there are better ways to achieve the aforementioned goals without resorting to the rather excessive policies of Trump’s administration.”
Sophomore Beata Gold shares her experience with the new policies, saying, “My uncle in law works in Dubai and other Middle Eastern cities and was affected by the temporary ban since he needed to travel there for business … [I feel] foreign relations and the economy won’t be as constant or secure as before.”
Freshman Ryan Talvola comments, “I have read articles about his crackdown on illegal immigration potentially affecting the Bay Area, although I have not directly seen the impact of this. I believe it is too early to see how Trump’s policies could change our community.”
Sophomore Kennedy Mallard adds, “I’m sure many of the immigrants in CA feel scared. Also, a lot of political advocacy has been present since the election because there are very strong opinions on Trump, and in my immediate area, it’s mostly against him. I’ve noticed some people are becoming more and more into politics and fascinated by policies they’ve never shown interest in before.”
Although perspectives on Trump’s influence vary, there is no doubt that actions occurring in Trump’s administration has been on the minds of people across the country, including in San Mateo.