In a race that didn’t change from the opening results, political
newcomer Peter Leroe-Munoz won a wire-to-wire victory in the race
for three City Council seats. Voters also returned two incumbents,
Dion Bracco and Peter Arellano, to the dais.
With all 26 precincts counted,the results showed Leroe-Munoz,
30, a San Benito County Deputy District Attorney, with 3,057 while
Dion Bracco came in with 2,917 and Peter Arellano with 2,860.
In a race that didn’t change from the opening results, political newcomer Peter Leroe-Munoz won a wire-to-wire victory in the race for three City Council seats. Voters also returned two incumbents, Dion Bracco and Peter Arellano, to the dais.
With all 26 precincts counted,the results showed Leroe-Munoz, 30, a San Benito County Deputy District Attorney, with 3,057 while Dion Bracco came in with 2,917 and Peter Arellano with 2,860.
“I’m grateful, I am truly humbled. If this evening works out, I will serve Gilroy with the same humility,” said Leroe-Munoz after viewing early results on a laptop with friends at a campaign gathering downtown upstairs at Lizarran Restaurant.
“I’m more passionate about the city after the process of running for office than I’ve ever been.”
Arellano, still performing physician duties at the Kaiser Clinic just after 8 p.m., heard the good news that he held the third spot from a reporter.
“I’m tired, I ran for county supervisor and City Council … I’ve been running in one race or another. I’m happy for the news. I’m ready to serve another four years and I think they will be the best.”
He was awaiting the end of his shift at the clinic to have dinner with his family and, like Leroe-Munoz, looked forward to some sleep.
At the gathering for the vote leader, supporters gushed over the prospect of having Leroe-Munoz on the dais at City Hall.
“He’s absolutely wonderful, well-informed and intelligent,” said Elvira Robinson. “He can work with anybody, he’s going to make a change in Gilroy for the better.”
Ted Barrera said, “He’s young, just look at him – he’s so smart and he’s got what it takes. He’s exactly what Gilroy needs.”
Incumbent Dion Bracco was celebrating his second place standing at his home on El Dorado Drive. The Santa Clara County Registrar’s website showed the preliminary tally results on a large television.
The gathering of about 20 people included Mayor Al Pinheiro and councilman Bob Dillon.
Bracco, who donned his signature Hawaiian shirt, said he was both confident but nervous as he waited for the results.
“It’s out of my control,” he said.
He said he hadn’t been nervous until he got a call from a resident standing at the polling station. “He said ‘I’m down to the last choice and it’s between you and Leroe-Munoz,’ and I thought: ‘That’s your last choice?'”
Out of the seven running for three open seats at the Council, two are political veterans and three are newcomers.
Bracco said having two incumbents in the lead indicated Gilroy residents are happy with the present council, but said he didn’t expect Arellano to garner so many votes with so little campaigning.
After spending almost $46,000 in his campaign for Santa Clara County supervisor this summer, Arellano spent the $950 a filing fee and nothing more. He received only $250 from contributors.
“Two out of three that are in the lead are incumbents – I certainly know what I’m getting,” said Mayor Al Pinheiro. He said he would have attended Arellano’s celebration, too, if he had hosted one.
“The community certainly sees that this council has done a good job,” he said.
Dillon said he was rooting for Russ Valiquette, park operations manager at Gilroy Gardens, but said he was happy with the results. He said he didn’t prefer incumbents or political veterans like Valiquette over newcomers.
“(The newcomers) have come up with ideas no one else has had,” he said, and mentioned candidate Pasquale Greco’s proposal that the city have it’s own electrical utility and drop PG&E as its energy provider.
“This is the first time I had no idea what was going to happen,” said Dillon, who was formerly an opinion columnist at the Dispatch.
Paul Kloecker, who served on the City Council previously,finished fourth.
The new members in the City Council may have an effect on the direction it takes after their seating in December.
Bracco said he would continue to work on having a new youth center and a stronger gang task force, which would target the top 10 at-risk youth and those who are already in a gang. Police, school principals and parents would work together to reel them back in or chase them out of town, he said.
Leroe-Munoz has attended City Council meetings and knocked on the door of possible constituents. He’s strongly in favor of the High-Speed Rail and not only wants the train to run through Gilroy, but he wants it smack in the middle of downtown. Downtown vibrancy and development are among his top priorities.
Expected to begin full operation in 2020, the $45-billion, 800-mile system is slated to have routes from Sacramento to San Diego with connections to the Bay Area and a major stop in Gilroy.
Arellano, a physician, as served on City Council from 1999 to 2003 and from 2005 to now. He proposed building downtown parking lots behind blocks to deal with parking problem, and believes in infusing money into the projects of the Department of Parks and Recreation to keep youth busy and out of trouble.
The Council seating will take place December 6, and council members will be having a goal setting retreat in January, in which they will pinpoint their priorities for Gilroy.
26 of 26 precincts completed as of 5 a.m. Wednesday
Peter Leroe Munoz