Countdown to council candidates

City Councilman Craig Gartman.

Gilroy
– Eight months before voters head to the polls, a familiar slate
of candidates already are lining up to face off for three City
Council seats.
Councilmen Bob Dillon and Craig Gartman have stated their
intention to run for second terms, but it remains unclear if
veteran Councilman Charles Morales will try to keep his seat for a
fourth term.
Gilroy – Eight months before voters head to the polls, a familiar slate of candidates already are lining up to face off for three City Council seats.

Councilmen Bob Dillon and Craig Gartman have stated their intention to run for second terms, but it remains unclear if veteran Councilman Charles Morales will try to keep his seat for a fourth term.

Morales did not return calls for comment.

Former City Councilman and local doctor Peter Arellano has stated his intention to run to members of the South County Democratic Club. He and Dion Bracco, a local tow-truck operator and Planning Commission Chairman, have kept their campaign finance committees active at City Hall – generally a sign that candidates are planning another bid.

In 2003, Bracco was edged out of a council seat by Paul Correa, who won by just 70 votes. Bracco drew in 2,205 votes, followed by then-incumbent Arellano, who received 2,167 votes.

Neither Arellano nor Bracco could be reached for comment.

The period for candidate nominations officially opens July 18 and closes August 12, according to City Clerk Rhonda Pellin. A five-day extension kicks in if one of the incumbents fails to file by the August deadline.

The candidate field could widen by that date depending on Morales’ decision.

“What I’m waiting for right now is to see what the political field is out there,” said Bruce Morasca, a local arts advocate who has worked at Albertson’s grocery store in Morgan Hill for more than three decades. “I’ve talked to Charlie Morales and I’m not quite sure what his position is, but once I know that I’ll know what mine is.”

Morasca drew the fewest votes in the 2003 City Council race, receiving 1,119 – 7.7 percent of registered voters.

He currently serves on the city’s Public Arts Commission and on the board of directors for South Valley Symphony and Theater Arts Angels League.

“I want to make sure arts are represented on City Council,” he said, adding that he would like to see the city pick up a bigger share of costs to repair sidewalks uprooted by trees. The city currently splits the cost of repairs with homeowners through its 50/50 Sidewalk Repair Program.

Art Barron, a local postman and president of the Gilroy Eigleberry Neighborhood Association, is also toying with the idea of a 2005 election bid. Barron is a rising star in the Eigleberry community, where he has helped promote youth safety and civic involvement.

Barron said he has not made a final decision, but that he, too, is awaiting word from Morales.

“At this time, I’m going to say no, but anything could happen,” he said. “People tell me all the time ‘You should run.’ When certain people tell you, you step back and listen.”

If Barron does not make his own bid, he may learn the ropes of campaigning by working for someone else. He said has been approached by several prospective candidates, including Arellano, to help on their campaigns.

“I’ve yet to decide,” he said, about working on someone else’s campaign.

Incumbents Dillon and Gartman said budget issues remain top priority for them in the future.

“The state has shown us over the last 10 years that they have no problems taking our money when they need it,” Dillon said.

Gartman said that “with the uncertainty of the state budget and how it’s going to affect the amount of money the city receives, I think how we manage our funds within the city is of utmost importance. One of the things that we have done on council is watching the bottom line of the general fund. We need to make sure that we don’t expand services beyond the city’s ability to pay for it.”

In coming months, incumbent councilmen may find themselves forced to take a position on a controversial ballot measure that could end binding arbitration, an outgrowth of the current deadlock in labor negotiations between the city and Fire Local 2805. If it garners the required number of signatures, it would end up on the same ballot as the candidates themselves.

Councilman Dillon has spoken in favor of such a ballot initiative, while Gartman expressed hope that the measure could be avoided.

The seven-member City Council also includes Mayor Al Pinheiro and Councilmen Paul Correa, Russ Valiquette and Roland Velasco. Their four-year terms are up for renewal in 2007.

Familiar faces

Three expire in November. Each term lasts four years.

Planning to run:

• Bob Dillon, incumbent councilman

• Craig Gartman, incumbent councilman

• Peter Arellano, former councilman

Considering bids:

• Art Barron, president of Eigleberry Neighborhood Association

• Dion Bracco, Planning Commission chair

• Charles Morales, incumbent councilman

• Bruce Morasca, 2001 council candidate

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