Bracco Q&A with the Dispatch

Name: Dion Bracco

Age: 47

Family members: Daughters Michelle and Elizabeth

Years in Gilroy: 47

Occupation/employer name/years worked: President of Bracco’s Towing & Transport, Inc. 14 Years

Past council/commission experience and term dates: Chairman City Planning Commission term end 11/05

Campaign director/coordinator: Andrew Russo

Campaign headquarters: 6730 Monterey St

List of endorsements: Donald & Jeanne Gage, Eleanor Villarreal, Donald Christopher, Joan M Lewis

Why are you running for city council?

As a business owner, I know how to manage budgets efficiently and I am committed to the responsible use of taxpayer dollars. I will insist that each and every expenditure represent the best deal for the taxpayer and the best deal for the city.

What qualifies you to represent the citizens of Gilroy and why are you the best candidate?

I currently serve as chairman of the Planning Commission and I am a member of the Downtown Specific Plan Task Force, am a fourth generation resident, and a local business owner. I have also been active as a participant or contributor to numerous community organizations and causes such as the Exchange Club of Gilroy, Memorial Day Parade, Gilroy Police Activities League, DARE, Gilroy Gang Task Force, Gilroy Garlic Festival, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Lord‚s Table and many more.

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

1. Financial Stability: I will oppose wasteful spending, look for innovative ways to save money and provide services; aggressively go after our money that the state is robbing from our city.

2. Homes our residents can afford: The skyrocketing cost of housing in our area makes living in Gilroy impossible for many middle-income families. We must redouble our efforts to build homes that our teachers, firefighters, nurses, and others can afford. This means providing new incentives for developers to build below market-rate homes, promoting mixed-use development, and moving forward with plans like the Cannery Project for new townhouses and apartments.

3. Our sidewalks: It’s time to address this problem once and for all. We can finance this internally without asking the taxpayer for the money. Once we repair the sidewalks, then we need a clear policy that addresses who is responsible for the trees and the sidewalks. This should be done by a task force made up of residents and community leaders.

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

I do not support the voter model; we elect our Council members to make these decisions and if they are unable to do their job they should step aside. I do not favor binding arbitration. I believe it drives a wedge between management and labor. But if we get rid of it we might have to use the state model and we would be worse off. I believe we would be better off working with our employees to come up with a process that would benefit both sides. Arbitration should only be used as a last resort. If the negotiators fail, it should go to Council to make sure good faith negotiations have taken place. And, then, if Council and labor are still at an impasse we could consider arbitration.

Do you have a financial rescue plan in the event the fire union wins most or all of its demands in the current arbitration process? How serious is this issue?

It’s serious but I don’t think the sky is falling. If this happens, Council will have to step up and make the hard decisions and do the job they where elected to do. I think we should look at changing the way we provide fire service in our city. Most calls are for medical reasons, so perhaps we should consider more paramedic units. And if cuts become necessary, they should be across the board.

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

No, I don‚t think we would receive the same level of service from the county. However, I would like to explore the possibility of a south county fire district. Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy LAFCO have brought this up and I think we should take a look at this possibility. It might be a way to provide better protection with less personnel and equipment.

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

The RDO has worked well for us so far, but it has not been updated for a long time. We may need to reevaluate the process and give priority to developers that are willing to add amenities such as solar energy or are willing to put in a park, a fire station or something that benefits the city.

Should the downtown area be exempted from the RDO in order to preserve redevelopment momentum?

Not completely. We need some controls so that we can manage how the downtown is developed and the downtown is different: these are mostly 1 and 2 bedroom units. You are not going to see many families moving to down town. And we must work to keep the momentum going in the downtown.

Should the city set spending limits for local elections?

Gilroy has spending limits of 50 cents per resident. I think they should be lower so anyone can participate regardless how much money they can raise.

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

Yes, although I would like to see it at 20% with more housing going to middle class working families. To achieve this, it will require leadership on the Council because it will take the city to make it worthwhile for the developer by lowering and waiving fees.

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

Downtown streetscape 4th to 6th and side streets, repairing all side walks, 6th street bridge, finishing the sports park and road improvements around the sports park, and the cultural arts center.

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

No, They should be paid by developer fees and impact fees.

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.

It should only be used for the greater good of the community. For projects like roads, bridges, hospitals and the like. It should be used only when there is a great need, not simply a want.

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

Too restrictive. We need more representation for the south county on the LAFCO board. Roland Valasco has been appointed an alternate and this may turn out to help a great deal.

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

No, I sat in on a presentation and don’t believe it will ever happen. To think that it can compete with air travel is a bit of a leap.

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

Being robbed by the state of our property tax revenues. We have to work with other cities because there is strength in numbers. Working with the Economic Development Corporation to attract new business to Gilroy that will not only bring more money to town but also provide good paying jobs for our residents so they are not commuting to the north. This also helps our air quality and traffic congestion.

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