Ryan Coonerty

County Supervisor

Santa Cruz, CA

Pro-Growth Progressive Idea: Creating entrepreneurship training programs to help small businesses grow in Santa Cruz

Ryan Coonerty was elected to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors in 2014. He previously served as the Mayor of Santa Cruz where he successfully brought together labor union members, social service providers, environmentalists, and local businesspeople to promote innovative strategies to improve the quality of life.  Some of his efforts have received national attention, including creating an Ayuda Linea (Help Line) for day laborers to report incidents of abuse, investing the City’s reserve funds locally to spur the local economy, and authoring an ordinance that allows dense, for-sale housing which will provide affordable housing for teachers, city workers, firefighters and police.

Ryan is also the co-founder and chief strategist for NextSpace Coworking + Innovation and is implementing a new model for local and regional economic development to help citizens transition, start businesses, and live sustainably. Ryan has presented recommendations for other elected officials on how to replicate this model in communities across the country.

Pro-Growth Progressive Ideas Shared


Cities and counties have millions in reserve and special funds but most of those dollars are invested in large funds run out of state. Local financial institutions know their community and customers better than large banks, and therefore by having access to those funds can more effectively invest in the community.


County Supervisor Coonerty proposes investing a small percentage of these reserves in local banks and credit unions to keep the money local, creating jobs and more funds for these institutions to lend to citizens to start businesses, purchase cars or improve their homes, all of which help grow the economy.


Santa Cruz has long grappled with persistent drug and alcohol abuse-fueled petty crimes in its downtown area. The community’s sense of safety and economic prosperity are adversely impacted by this cycle of recidivism and many in Santa Cruz consider the local criminal justice system to be a revolving door for low-level criminals.


The City and County of Santa Cruz have joined forces to reduce recidivism among the community's most chronic low level offenders. County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty helped launch PACT in April 2014, an innovative multi-agency and multi-disciplinary team, working collectively to provide street outreach, case management and treatment in exchange for strict court accountability. This adaptive program offers wraparound services to chronic offenders, on a voluntary basis, in exchange for strict accountability for their actions. The PACT program has already seen evidence of success with recidivism rates for PACT-intervened clients greatly reduced in the first twelve months of the program.