The perfect council candidate

It’s an odd-numbered year, so that means Gilroyans will be
electing City Council members in November. Although the Aug. 12
filing deadline is a quite a ways a way, it’s not too soon for
concerned residents to begin organizing campaigns.
Three seats on the seven-member City Council will be on the
November ballot. It’s imperative that knowledgeable, effective
Gilroyans join the City Council race.
It’s an odd-numbered year, so that means Gilroyans will be electing City Council members in November. Although the Aug. 12 filing deadline is a quite a ways a way, it’s not too soon for concerned residents to begin organizing campaigns.

Three seats on the seven-member City Council will be on the November ballot. It’s imperative that knowledgeable, effective Gilroyans join the City Council race.

While we believe that candidates can come from a wide variety of backgrounds, it’s also true that those who have some familiarity with city structure and the operation of public bodies through service on panels and boards have an advantage. They understand how meetings are run and the importance of following open meeting laws, both important milestones on the City Council learning curve.

But even more important are candidates who have open minds, who are willing to make the considerable commitment of time and effort the job demands, and who have the best interests of Gilroy as their top priority.

A plethora of important issues will test those attributes in whomever is elected to a City Council seat:

n LAFCO – this state-mandated county agency wields a great deal of influence over how Gilroy grows. How will we manage our relationship with this agency? Will we take a practical approach or a combative one?

n Sidewalks and street trees – emblematic of the city’s frequent “ignore it and it might go away” approach to problems, this is a lawsuit waiting to happen. How will the city fix the sidewalks? How will the city fix its laissez-faire attitude that brought about this situation?

n Wood-burning fireplace ordinance – should Gilroy go it alone (or nearly alone) among Bay Area communities by repealing the ordinance backed by the regional air quality management district, or should it endorse the regional approach to reducing air pollution and maintain its unpopular ordinance?

n Replacing City Manager Jay Baksa – although he’s one of the longest-serving city administrators ever, at some point Jay Baksa will retire. How will the city replace him? Will they want someone with the same fiscal management practices, or will they want to take a new approach?

n Public safety costs – Gilroy spends an extraordinary portion of its general fund on police and fire costs. Should this trend continue, or should the city find a different ratio for spending its limited discretionary funds? Exactly how fat should firefighter and police officer retirement packages really be?

n Retail pay out – The explosion of retail in Gilroy has helped the city avoid funding crises faced by other cities, but is that all it should do for the city? Where are services like sports parks, neighborhood parks, and what about the impact downtown? What should we do to make sure Gilroyans, not just the city budget, benefit from the retail we’ve invited into our community?

n Library facility – We hate to be pessimistic, but fear we’re being realistic with this: If the city’s next application for library bond money fails, what will the city do about providing the grossly overcrowded library with a new facility?

These are just some of the challenges that will face the next council. If you’re passionate about helping Gilroy make the right choices, can listen to all sides of a debate before coming to a conclusion, are willing to come to meetings prepared by reading the agenda packet, and are up for a campaign, the city needs you.

Now is the time to begin planning your campaign. Talk to your friends and family. Talk to others who’ve sat at the dais. If you’re willing to serve your community in this important role, run for election.

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