Gartman Brings Eye for Detail to Council

The one-term councilman has developed a reputation for his
attention to detail
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Dispatch is publishing profiles every day this week on each of the five candidates running for three city council seats Nov. 8. Tomorrow the Dispatch will profile Councilman Charles Morales.

Gilroy – When a big development or major policy issue comes before the city’s top governing body, councilmen brace themselves when Craig Gartman begins to speak.

The one-term councilman has developed a reputation for painstaking attention to detail, carefully poring over complex planning documents and locating potential loopholes or inconsistencies.

Gartman announced earlier in the year, for instance, when city council reviewed 100-plus pages of development guidelines for the scenic Hecker Pass corridor, that he found loopholes “big enough for a developer to drive a truck through.”

While debate around his concerns extended council meetings, colleagues lauded his efforts to refine a major planning document five years in the making.

“Even though I got a hard time from some council people for putting them through two additional study sessions, I got a lot of positive feedback from my fellow councilmembers,” Gartman said. “I think a lot has to do with my engineering background. As someone said, the devil is in the details and sometimes you have to pull out your shovel and do a little digging.”

Gartman worked for 25 years in the electronics and technology industry before he and thousands of others lost their jobs when the tech bubble burst. He now works in Gilroy as a financial planner.

Like most council members, he served a term on the city’s planning commission before ascending to the city’s top governing body. That experience prepared him to examine major development issues with the eye of an expert.

He believes the city must rethink its growth control measure, using the competition for building permits as a way to encourage affordable housing rather than as a way to simply restrict growth.

“A term that is being tossed around is work-force housing,” Gartman said. “I’d like to take a look at different types of houses that are a lot less expensive and give them extra points” in the city’s building permit competition.

Gartman has also stressed the need to protect Gilroy’s historic neighborhoods from higher density development.

In recent weeks, he voted against a project to build six homes where two now stand on Miller Avenue, a tree-lined street in the heart of the city’s old core.

Looking ahead, Gartman is focusing on fixing the city’s cracked and uprooted sidewalks.

He and several other council candidates are backing a proposal to finance improvements by borrowing against future tax revenues. At the same time, Gartman said the city must take care with its financial resources.

“The No. 1 thing we need to do is make sure we have financial stability,” Gartman said. “It’s of utmost importance. If we don’t have the dollars, we can’t provide public safety necessary for our citizens. We have to keep a keen eye on how we spend our revenues.”

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