Businessman who lost by 70 votes in 2003 has been building
contacts, working as chair of planning commission
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Dispatch is running profiles every day this week on each of the five candidates running for three city council seats Nov. 8. Tomorrow the city will run a profile on Bob Dillon.
Gilroy –Dion Bracco built his own tow-truck operation into the largest in the city. Now he hopes to bring a businessman’s mentality to the city’s top governing body.
Bracco narrowly missed a council bid in 2003, but has spent the time since then building contacts and a public record as chairman of the city’s planning commission. Now, he believes he’s prepared in every way – in terms of message, local support, and campaign money – to assume a seat on the seven-member city council.
“I think in the past we’ve been hoping for a better tomorrow and I think it’s time to wake up and see that tomorrow’s going to be just as bad as today,” Bracco said. “We’ve got to watch our money. We’ve got to tighten our purse strings.”
He said city leaders should have thought twice before spending millions to acquire land for the arts center, which he called a “want” rather than a “need.” The city now finds itself forced to use eminent domain to seize the land as the last of the property owners holds out for a higher offer. Bracco opposes the arts center acquisition on philosophical grounds, arguing against the seizure of property for anything other than absolute necessities, such as roads or sewers.
How would he spend the city’s money?
“I believe it’s the city’s job to provide sound sidewalks,” he said. “It’s just been neglected. Anybody that’s been in Gilroy for a while has heard this for years. It’s time to get in there and get it done.”
Like fellow candidates Bob Dillon and Craig Gartman, Bracco proposes borrowing against anticipated increases in sales tax revenues to finance sidewalk repairs. He brushed aside arguments by city officials that those monies have already been allocated for other uses, that such a bond would require cutting programs or services.
“Last night we donated $23,000,” he said, referring to a council decision to support the Red Cross disaster relief efforts. “If we can find $23,000 for hurricane victims, I think we can find money for sidewalks. I don’t think the sky is falling. I think the money’s there.”
In the last two years, Bracco has generated a growing base of community support in his role as a planning commissioner. He said he has received many phone calls in recent weeks over his stand against a project to bring higher-density development to Miller Avenue, one of the city’s oldest and most scenic streets.
“I’ve gotten a lot of supportive phone calls from people who live in older parts of Gilroy over this Miller Avenue deal,” Bracco said.
At the same time, he is not banking on his reputation as a planning commissioner to carry him to victory this fall. This campaign season he is spending big and spending early, loaning his own campaign committee $8,500 he saved up since the 2003 election. He lost that race by just 70 votes and does not plan to get edged out again for lack of signs or mailers.
“As fundraising goes, that money comes in late,” he said. “I saved the money so I could get a head start, to get out the literature, signs, and all the other things to get my campaign going … It’s been successful so far. I’m getting really good feedback. I’ve been out walking, gotten phone calls. People seem to connect with the message I’m delivering.”