26-year-old Stockton mayor encourages incarcerated youth with his own life story

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs was born to a 16-year-old single-mother while his father was incarcerated. Stockton’s first black mayor also happens to be the youngest to win election to the post. He recently visited incarcerated youth to share his story.

Story by Ike Dodson, CDCR PIO, OPEC
Photos by Kelvin Thomas

The first black mayor of Stockton, Michael Tubbs, is also the youngest person to ever hold that position. He rallied behind a $10,000 campaign donation by Oprah and an endorsement of then-President Barack Obama to claim over 70 percent of votes in the 2016 mayoral election.

The 26-year-old Stanford University graduate has pledged to reinvent one of America’s most troubled cities — one that became the largest city in the U.S. to file for bankruptcy in 2013.

Michael Tubbs, the 26-year-old mayor of Stockton, talks with incarcerated youth at O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility Feb. 28.

His story, from struggle to success, offered an inspiring moment inside O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility Feb. 28, as Tubbs spoke candidly with 11 incarcerated youth in Carlos Cordero’s Transition to Success class at Johanna Boss High School.

Tubbs said the purpose of his visit was to speak to offenders who were trying to find a better path in life. He spoke to students already learning workforce skills needed to overcome the challenges of returning to the labor market and the community.

“I hope that my words helped to brighten their day and let them know there is a better path available if they stay focused and out of trouble,” Tubbs said. “The talk went very well. The conversation was able to take on a more engaging-style with the young men’s thoughtful questions.

“I am glad it was not just me lecturing at the front of the class. I think it’s important for them to know that the mayor of Stockton cares. “

The youth of O.H. Close drew parallels in their own paths to incarceration with Tubbs, who was born to a 16-year-old single-mother while his father was inside a correctional facility.

“I felt that I could relate to this crowd very well,” Tubbs said. “I am familiar with their stories. I grew up in a similar situation, but was lucky to make it out.

“Many of my friends and family members did not experience the same level of success, and I felt that sharing my story of being born to a teenage mother and a father incarcerated helped them relate to me.”

Cordero collaborated with Foster Grandparent Kathleen Jones to bring Stockton’s youngest elected official to O.H. Close. Foster Grandparents are seniors that sit in the school classrooms and encourage students to pay attention to the teacher. They also provide some direct assistance with schoolwork and homework.

Johanna Boss High Principal Susan Harrower also played a big role in bringing Tubbs to O.H. Close, and Cordero was thrilled to host the event in his class.

“Our students felt as though Mayor Tubbs was there for them,” Cordero said. “His presentation was a personable and a memorable experience for our young men.”

A moment in the talk resonated with the youth, when a young offender asked Tubbs how he wanted to be remembered.

“Mayor Tubbs told him to ‘Be the drummer,’ a passage from one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speeches prior to his assassination,” Cordero said. “He referenced the drummer as an individual front and center of a marching band. However, he cautioned against being the drummer who beats the drum for the spotlight — be the individual who is a drummer for justice, change and positivity.

“Mayor Tubbs said to be the drummer that can make a difference in someone’s life for the better.”

Principal Harrower was excited by the visit.

“He was well-received by our young men who had a lot of very good questions for him,” she said. “He is a delightful young man who, at age 26, is the youngest mayor of a city with a population over 100,000.”

The talk also aided Mayor Tubbs in his quest to reinvent a vast community in distress.

“Hearing their stories and learning the support they needed to not be incarcerated was very helpful for me to better inform my policy strategies,” Tubbs said. “I think it is important to reach individuals before they make a decision with negative consequences that puts them in jail or prison.”

Mayor Michael Tubbs fielded questions from the youth of O.H. Close Feb. 28.

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17 Responses

  1. Leticia Aguero RN / ASP Friday, August 18, 2017 / 8:42 am

    What great news! Finally someone see’s hope and puts it into action in that city. Much needed for a long time.

  2. Donald M. Clark Wednesday, June 14, 2017 / 10:15 pm

    What an awesome and inspiring story! Yes, the City of Stockton, can become a paradigm to be replicated by so many other urban inner cities throughout California that have African American Communities that have been completely devastated by the crack-cocaine epidemic over the last thirsty (30) years. The youthful and earnest Mayor of Stockton, Michael Tubbs, can revitalize all of America’s war on drugs bringing vision from the community that suffers the most. Let him continue on his way in carrying out the mission of Jesus in seeing to it that all of God’s children in Stockton from young to old get a fair shake in life. Truly, honesty and integrity, can be found in a new cast
    public trust that allows great numbers of the socio-economic disadvantages to perform miracles all throughout the City of Stockton for all. Mayor Tubbs will never let a poor person be ignored as what has been done in the past history of a city that has been confused in regards of what to lift up and that’s the values of materialism rather than spiritualism.

  3. Nolice Edwards Thursday, April 13, 2017 / 10:47 am

    Great story and awesome message from the Stockton Mayor. Hats off to the educational leaders at O.H. Close for initiating the outreach and communication for the benefit of these young individuals.

  4. DM Monday, April 10, 2017 / 9:16 am

    Very inspiring, we need more like him in our communities.

  5. G Crawford Monday, April 10, 2017 / 8:28 am

    Very inspiring to see a young person grab opportunity and run with it. He is a shinning star and there is no limit to what this young man can do.

  6. M. D. Williams Friday, April 7, 2017 / 2:59 pm

    Excellent Article CDCR PIO Ike Dodson! It is very enjoyable and encouraging to read this article on Stockton Mayor Tubbs making a difference. Our youth are our future, so it is nice to see we have not forgotten about encouraging the youth. This is an impactful and excellent way to give back to the community.

    M. D. Williams
    Central California Women’s Facility

  7. Corrine Thogmartin Thursday, April 6, 2017 / 6:41 am

    What a freshness for Stockton! Looking forward to hearing many more inspiring stories about my old stomping grounds.

  8. R.H. Wednesday, April 5, 2017 / 2:20 pm

    How inspiring! So helpful to give back to the community. This is what it will take to turn things around.

  9. V. Kelly Wednesday, April 5, 2017 / 11:52 am

    This young man is a true leader.

  10. Aletta Wednesday, April 5, 2017 / 9:27 am

    This is a beautiful and uplifting read! His success could lead the way for many who pay attention.
    Thank you,

  11. Cjohnson Wednesday, April 5, 2017 / 9:25 am

    Excellent story. In order to reach our troubled youth, we need more leaders willing to tell their stories being transparent.

  12. LN Wednesday, April 5, 2017 / 9:20 am

    Very cool story!

  13. Dr. Rach Wednesday, April 5, 2017 / 9:01 am

    I love this!!! Rock on young man!!

  14. Sunni.Harley@cdcr.ca.gov Wednesday, April 5, 2017 / 8:58 am

    “Be the drummer for justice, change, and positivity. Not for spotlight.” This Mayor may just be the one to turn Stockton around. Looking forward to meeting him face to face 4/22/17.

  15. Navora Wednesday, April 5, 2017 / 8:55 am

    Very inspirational! Especially to hear the youth engaged in an interactive process.

  16. Daysha Moore Wednesday, April 5, 2017 / 8:47 am

    Very impressive and inspiring.

  17. Pat Wednesday, April 5, 2017 / 8:43 am

    Grateful the mayor could take the time to reach out to these young men. Keep up the inspirational work.

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