Q&A with Gilroy City Council candidate Dion Bracco

Dion Bracco

Before interviewing the candidates, the Editorial Board of the
Dispatch asked each to respond to a dozen written questions. The
Editorial Board stipulated that the responses to each question be
limited to 400 words and let the candidates know that the answers
would be published at www.gilroydispatch.com and sent out to
subscribers to the Dispatch mobile application.
Here are the answers. The responses have not been edited for
grammar or clarity.
Councilman and candidate Peter Arellano was the only person in
the race who did not respond to the request.
Before interviewing the candidates, the Editorial Board of the Dispatch asked each to respond to a dozen written questions. The Editorial Board stipulated that the responses to each question be limited to 400 words and let the candidates know that the answers would be published at www.gilroydispatch.com and sent out to subscribers to the Dispatch mobile application.

Here are the answers. The responses have not been edited for grammar or clarity.

Councilman and candidate Peter Arellano was the only person in the race who did not respond to the request.

1. What are the best characteristics of Gilroy?

Gilroy is home, the farming, the smell of garlic, our beautiful surroundings, our warm, sunny climate. We still enjoy that community spirit as demonstrated by the volunteers at the Garlic Festival, our Memorial Day Parade, and the many local non- profits giving of their time and resources to make our community a better place.

2. What does Gilroy need to improve on most?

City Hall is out of touch. We must make city government work for the residents.

3. Do you believe that the public employee benefit system, including retirement, needs reform? If so, be specific on what you would advocate.

Yes, we must negotiate contracts for the future of our city. For decades, Councils have been quick to give in to employee demands with little concern for how it would impact our future. The problems we face today have been building for decades and there is no quick fix. We will have to work hard to reverse this trend by being tough but fair when negotiating contracts. The Council should be more involved by having a Councilmember present in the negotiations and we must adopt a two-tier pension system where new employees bear a greater share of the cost of their own retirement.

4. Did the City Council pursue the right course of action to shut down MediLeaf, the medical marijuana dispensary in Gilroy? Explain your position. Also, will you vote for or against state Proposition 19?

We absolutely did the right thing, No business has the right to come into our city and thumb its nose at our rules and regulations and cost us over a hundred thousand dollars in court costs while they make hundreds of thousands of dollars while playing games with us and the courts. I will vote NO on 19.

5. What is your perception of the current Gilroy City Council?

In 2007– after the last election– this Council got off to a rough start, we have some personalities that have clashed. In the last three years, though, I think we have come together and achieved a great deal for the good of the community, like the open government ordinance, balancing the budget, building a new library and lowering employee compensation ( just to name a few).

6. Would you seriously consider contracting out for city public safety services? Why or why not?

I believe we should keep public safety in-house. From what I have seen in the cities that contract out, they have sacrificed safety and service for a few dollars and in the long term have sometimes paid more for less. In the areas of engineering, plan checking, planning and others, we should take a look at outsourcing.. We currently contract out several departments now, such as the waste water treatment plant, park maintenance, and attorney services.

7. What is downtown’s role in the community? Is it important? If so, what would you do to revitalize the area?

The downtown should be the heart of the community. It is important as our city grows that we retain a sense of community. I want to have a paseo or patio aria area in the downtown. I think we should turn Fifth Street between Monterey and Eigleberry into a place where people could gather, have coffee, lunch or just a nice place to meet. I think we should also look for a place to put a small park with some green grass, benches and a few tables where downtown visitors and people who live and work in the downtown can take a break.

8. What ideas do you have for economic development and job creation? Please be specific.

We must streamline the approval process by holding our staff accountable for their actions and the actions of those that they are in charge of. When an applicant comes to us with a good project, we should partner with them by looking for ways to say yes and not just saying No No No. We also need to lower our fees; Gilroy has some of the highest fees in the state. This is especially important in the downtown: staff needs to understand that there is a big difference between rehabilitating a downtown building compared to building on raw land northwest of Santa Theresa.

9. Tell us something about you personally that wouldn’t show up on your resume, but that would help make you an effective Council member?

I have a heart for this city, that’s why I enjoy doing what I do. I absolutely love working with and helping my fellow Gilroyans to solve their problems and make our city a better place for all of us.

10. Are city expenditures properly balanced between public safety and other city services such as parks and recreation? If not, what change would you advocate?

That’s a tough one. Public services like fire, police, water and sewer are necessities that we have to provide, compared to services we want which are a quality of life issue. We have and will continue to look for ways to add to parks and recreation, like partnering with our neighboring cities to provide more and better services to our residents.

11. In calendar year 2009, 30 city employees made more than $20,000 in overtime pay led by Fire Captains Ed Bozzo ($54,368 in OT pay), Paul Butler ($41,267 in OT pay) and Chris Weber ($36,554 in OT pay). Is this a city management issue? If so, what changes would you advocate?

This is very misleading. First, Ed Bozzo is a Battalion Chief and we routinely loan out our fire fighters to Cal Fire as part of mutual aid to fight fires all around the state and we are reimbursed 100% for their time and all overtime to cover their shifts. For Fiscal year 2008-09, we received $451,000. For 2009-10, $177,000. Our Fire Chief tracks all overtime to make sure it is needed and that it remains more cost-effective than hiring more firefighters.

12. What is your vision for Gilroy and what would you do specifically to advance that vision?

My vision for Gilroy is a cleaner, safer and friendlier community, I am currently working with the Chief of Police to take the Gang Task Force to the next level: to identify at-risk kids and work to keep them out of gangs and also to target known gang members and remove them from our community. I am also pushing for a new or rebuilt youth center where kids know they are safe and that this community believes in them. I will continue to work with others to improve our downtown and make it a clean and inviting place to be. If you look back 5 years the downtown has come a long way and will only get better.

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