Arellano Q&A with the Dispatch

Name: Peter Arellano

Age: 55

Family members: spouse Rochelle, daughters Bernardette & Belen

Years in Gilroy: Continuously since 1990. I was born here, and graduated from Gilroy High and Gavilan College.

Occupation: Employer: Permanente Medical Group, place of work: Kaiser Clinic in Gilroy, fifteen years.

City councilperson 1999-2003.

Campaign headquarters: 7100 Potomac Place, Gilroy

Campaign website:

Campaign coordinator: Rochelle Arellano

Endorsements: Assemblyman John Laird, Assemblyman Simon Salinas, School board member T.J. Owens, Superintendent Edwin Dias, California League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Santa Clara County Democratic Club, Planning Commission member Cat Tucker

Why are you running for city council?

I am running because I care about our community. As a family physician I know that medical problems are rarely isolated. As interconnected as a living human body, all of Gilroy’s sectors are vital and need to work together to function productively. I have a wealth of experience volunteering with local organizations, serving on community boards, and as a previous council member. The soul of our community is Caring. Guided by this value, I will serve with my heart and mind.

What are the three biggest challenges facing Gilroy and how would you address them?

Quality of life and the environment:

1. We must work to safeguard the water we drink and the air we breathe. In the past three years we have been reading about the perchlorate contamination of city wells affecting Morgan Hill and San Martin, the difficulty to decontaminate drinking water, evaluating safe levels for breast-fed infants, who is responsible, and who will pay the bill. As a family physician I believe strongly in the motto: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is what I mean by assuring our quality of life. I will work always toward doing my part to be a steward of our environment to preserve our quality of life.

2. Safe Streets:

Our children need places to play and safe streets. I will make sure we continue a strong public safety presence which will be able not only to respond to emergencies, but will play a primary role in prevention and intervention. I will work hard to complete our city parks and the sport park. I will support facilities which not only serve the major sports, but will also provide a bike park and aquatic center. We must provide safe streets for bicyclists and children, and avoid traffic congestion the most notable example of which is occurring on the 10th Street overpass.

3. Jobs! I will work to attract and create high-paying jobs with good benefits.

If elected, would you vote in favor of ending binding arbitration or subjecting arbitrator decisions to voter approval?

Binding arbitration is what happens when the City and its Public Safety force fail to negotiate and compromise in the best interests of our city and its citizens. We must look beyond arbitration and do what is best for Gilroy. I will not vote for ending binding arbitration, nor for subjecting arbitration’s outcome to voter approval. Final rescue plans will need to be worked out depending on the outcome and timing of the arbitration. We do not know where the city is financially. Will the state take more dollars away? I will take in and weigh all possibilities and do what is best for the City of Gilroy.

Should the city consider switching to contracting for county fire service? Why or why not?

Contracting for County fire service is a subject on which I will not comment due to the lack of information on this subject and the need to fully evaluate the impact of such a move.

Does the city’s residential development ordinance need to be updated to better meet growth needs? If so, how specifically?

RDO only needs minor adjustments to allow higher density in the downtown area.

Should the city set spending limits for local elections?

Spending limits for local elections is an idea, the pros and cons, of which need to be thoroughly discussed. I have not reached any conclusions as to whether or not spending limits should be implemented.

The affordable housing index has been set at 15% for new housing projects? Is that the right percentage, why or why not?

The question is what is an affordable home price? It depends on one’s income. Affordable housing index needs to be slightly higher at 20% . With the median home price for Gilroy over $600,000, we need to plan for working families with incomes below $70,000 per year.

What are the five most pressing capital improvements in the city of Gilroy? How would you prioritize them?

Five most pressing capital improvements in the city of Gilroy? SIDEWALKS, SIDEWALKS, SIDEWALKS, SIDEWALKS, SIDEWALKS!

Do you think the city should ask residents to pay for capital projects, such as storm drains and or sidewalk repair?

The tax investments we pay to the city are already paying for capital improvements. We need to prioritize capital improvements and plan better so we are not stuck with one big bill at the end when everything is falling apart.

Given the wide latitude the Supreme Court has given local governments regarding eminent domain, what is your position on its use? Please elaborate with examples.

Imposition of eminent domain is the result of a breakdown of good faith negotiation. The provision of allowing a government entity to take away land from people and offer it to private corporations is wrong. It should never be used in this fashion. Eminent domain for public good, such as freeway and street right-of-ways, water reservoirs, etc, should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Do you believe LAFCO policies on annexation of farmland on the city’s edge is too restrictive, not restrictive enough, or about right?

LAFCO is a state-mandated LOCAL agency set up to oversee the boundaries of cities and special districts. Encouraging orderly boundaries, discouraging sprawl, and preserving agricultural and open space lands are the key goals of this agency. I see no problem with this mandate.

Would you support having a High Speed Rail Authority stop in or near Gilroy?

High Speed Rail is a concept that has not been approved by the voters. The benefits of having a rail stop in Gilroy will need to be fully evaluated. If approved by California voters, I believe it could be beneficial for it to stop in Gilroy. We need to be part of the planning so that Gilroy is not left out. If it is built, let it come to Gilroy.

What are the two biggest economic challenges facing Gilroy? How would you Handle them?

The biggest economic challenges facing Gilroy are:

Keeping the state from taking more money away from the city.

Making the state return the money it has taken away in the past year.

I will work very closely with our state legislators as well as our assemblypersons and state senator, both of whom I know and one who has endorsed me.

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