Years ago the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic
Chamber of Commerce would each send a representative to the other
organization’s board of directors. This liaison relationship lasted
for almost a year. I was the Gilroy Chamber’s representative to the
Years ago the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce would each send a representative to the other organization’s board of directors. This liaison relationship lasted for almost a year. I was the Gilroy Chamber’s representative to the Hispanic Chamber. The reason this relationship was created was to foster understanding and cooperation on business-related issues. The reason it was discontinued was that it became clear that the two organizations, in spite of their names, had little in common.
The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce is, plain and simple, a business advocacy group for the local business community. The Hispanic Chamber, at least at the time I sat on the board, was more complex. It really wasn’t so much about business advocacy, but more about education, networking, heritage and culture. At the time, people always wondered why we needed two Chambers of Commerce. After I understood what was going on, I realized we didn’t – just two different groups sharing the name. It is confusing, but nobody really is harmed by it.
The current flap about there being a member of the Hispanic Chamber as a mandatory representative to the political endorsement committee of the Gilroy Chamber is just plain silly. The Chamber of Commerce should not put anybody on any committee just because they are a part of another organization. That is a disservice to the membership. I joined the Chamber and expect them to follow the mission statement of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, not the Hispanic Chamber, not the Gilroy Gators and not the Rotary Club. The Chamber’s actions should not be the result of any other group’s desires. The moment the board starts answering to someone else’s drum is the moment I walk. That three members of the Chamber board voted to allow others to make our decisions is an embarrassment.
Dispatch columnist Dennis Taylor inspired this letter mostly because of his comment about the number of Hispanics on the Chamber board of directors (0). He does not know why there are no Hispanic members on the board, but he pretends to know that it indicates a lack of leadership at the highest levels of the Chamber. I disagree. In fact I am pretty sure I know the answer as to why there are no Hispanic directors. The answer is that at this time no Hispanic has done the things necessary to get elected to the board. There have been Hispanic members in the past and, sure as the sun rises in the east, some Hispanic person(s) will seek and attain that position.
You don’t just become a member of the board of directors. If you want to be on the board you join the Chamber, you pay your dues, figuratively and literally. You volunteer to do the work of the Chamber and, yes, it will take years, but if you believe in the advocacy of business in this community you can and will get on the board. Mr. Taylor, it is not about leadership at the top. It is not about racism, because the directors are elected by the membership of which there are many Hispanic members. It is about desire.
Jeff Martin, Gilroy