Name: Craig Gartman
Years in Gilroy:9
Occupation/employer name/years worked: Financial Planner/Self/1 1/2 years
Past council/commission experience and term dates:4 yrs. planning commission, 4 yrs. city council
Campaign director/coordinator: Jackie Erwin
Campaign headquarters:906 Martiri Court, Gilroy, CA 95020
Campaign Website: www.GilroyGartman.com
List of endorsements: Don Gage, Jeff and Barbara Orth, Richardo Espinosa, Tony and Debbie Sudol, Keith Higgins, Burk McConkie, Jeff Martin, Mark Zappa
Why are you running for city council? I wish to continue the work we have started in improving the fire/medical coverage in Gilroy. The sidewalk program has had a good start but more work needs to be done and I wish to help with a new program to get all the sidewalks repaired within two years. The financial condition of the city is one we can be proud of and I want to continue to be the watchdog over these funds. The downtown has been kick started and I want to continue the trend. I love this job and I love helping the community.
What qualifies you to represent the citizens of Gilroy and why are you the best candidate? I am a member of the Gilroy community and I take every decision I make very seriously. I do my homework and study the issues so that I am prepared to cast a vote for the betterment of the community. I would never be so bold as to say I am the best candidate but I believe in what I do and I hope the community will support me in my re-election bid.
What are the three biggest challenges facing Gilroy and how would you address them?
1) Financial Stability – The council has done a great job in helping to keep the city in the black for many years. The downturn in the economy has affected all the surrounding communities who have had to reduce services and lay off staff members in police and fire. We are not out of the woods yet and we must keep a watchful eye to make sure we do not go into the red. Council must continue the current staffing policy, curtail capital budget item spending and keep an eye on the state legislatures to keep them from stealing our revenue sources.
2) Sidewalk Repairs – The problem will not go away unless the council steps up to the plate and takes an aggressive action to correct this citywide menace. For too many years, council has expected the 50/50 program to keep up with the problem and maybe even make headway. The program is a Band-Aid at best. We must fund a program to repair all the sidewalks in the city. Nothing less is acceptable.
3) Downtown – The downtown revitalization is off to a good start. Developers are building new shops and homes in the downtown area and this is happening WITHOUT RDA money. We must work hard to continue this rebuilding project.
If elected, would you vote in favor of ending binding arbitration or subjecting arbitrator decisions to voter approval? No
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? Yes. Very serious. City services will have to be reduced to accommodate the increase in cost.
Should the city consider switching to contracting for county fire service? Why or why not? Yes. When you have to make a decision, you should always look at all the possibilities. LAFCO is also recommending a South County Fire District. There may be benefits other than financial for the city. I believe in keeping our options open.
Does the city’s residential development ordinance need to be updated to better meet growth needs? If so, how specifically? Yes.
The ordinance was created in a time where housing cost a fraction of what it cost today. Over the years the ordinance has been updated to meet the changing needs of the community. I think it is time to update it again. We now have Neighborhood Districts, General Plans and Specific Plans playing a large part in the future residential projects in town. We also need to look at the rate of growth in Gilroy. We have dropped from 400 units a year in the first ten years of the RDO to 345 units a year in the current cycle while our population has increased. With about 500 students a year graduating from Gilroy High School, where are they going to find housing in Gilroy if we are only building 345 units? I believe the council needs to look at the RDO ordinance as a way to create new housing instead of just controlling growth.
Should the downtown area be exempted from the RDO in order to preserve redevelopment momentum? No
Should the city set spending limits for local elections? Yes. This is already in place at a rate of $.50 per resident.
The affordable housing index has been set at 15% for new housing projects? Is that the right percentage, why or why not? Yes for now. Affordable is a very tricky term and one that has a stigma attached to it. What it means to me is housing that the everyday working person can afford to buy. Council has set the mark at 15% and I am going to support that percentage and see how well it works. I believe we will have to re-evaluate the numbers after the next RDO round in the coming years. At that time, we can change the percentage.
What are the five most pressing capital improvements in the city of Gilroy?
How would you prioritize them?
(4) Forth Fire Station
(5) City and Neighborhood Parks
Do you think the city should ask residents to pay for capital projects, such as storm drains and or sidewalk repair? No, especially if it means another tax to the residents.
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. I believe eminent domain should be used for items that are NEEDED by the community, not wanted. I would support eminent domain for roads, water facilities, sewer facilities, public buildings as examples but only if not other location is workable.
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.
Would you support having a High Speed Rail Authority stop in or near Gilroy? Yes, only if it is in the city’s best interest. I have not seen that yet.
What are the two biggest economic challenges facing Gilroy? How would you handle them?
(1) The state of California stealing our revenue sources.
SOLUTION – Keep fighting the state legislators who are trying to balance their budget by stealing our revenue.
(2) The need for industrial development within the city.
SOLUTION – Change our focus on economic development from retail to light industrial and R&D facilities. The city needs to invest in business park development to make Gilroy more attractive right now. Many feel we should wait because of the large inventory of vacant buildings in Silicon Valley. I feel we should strike now when businesses are looking to expand into new facilities and show them why they should expand to Gilroy. We need to identify what type of businesses we want and where we want them to be located.