Bracco joins Woodward in early bid for mayor

Dion Bracco

With two Gilroy City Council members now declaring their
candidacies for mayor, one question lingers: Who’s next? Councilman
Dion Bracco said Tuesday he would run for mayor in 2012, while
fellow Councilman Perry Woodward announced his bid when he told the
Dispatch in December.
Current Mayor Al Pinheiro said it likely won’t be a two-man
race.

I’m sure there’ll be others,

he said.
With two Gilroy City Council members now declaring their candidacies for mayor, one question lingers: Who’s next?

Councilman Dion Bracco said Tuesday he would run for mayor in 2012, while fellow Councilman Perry Woodward announced his bid when he told the Dispatch in December.

Current Mayor Al Pinheiro said it likely won’t be a two-man race.

“I’m sure there’ll be others,” he said.

Pinheiro laughed, “Maybe I’ll run for mayor as well.”

But when asked if he did plan to seek re-election in the same conversation, Pinheiro said, “That’s not my intention at this time.”

Councilwoman Cat Tucker said she believed more candidates might begin to surface, though she would not be among them.

Councilman Bob Dillon, who also is not running for mayor, said having two bids announced this early was unprecedented for Gilroy.

“I think it’s amazing we have two candidates for mayor before the republicans have a candidate for president,” Dillon said.

As of now, with six of seven council members chiming in, there are two candidates for mayor sitting on the Council. Peter Arellano was not available for comment as of press time.

During the Council’s Jan. 7 meeting, however, after Pinheiro jokingly told Woodward he could run things his way once he was mayor, Arellano chuckled, “What makes you think he’s the only one running?”

Though the election isn’t exactly in sight – candidates don’t have to file until July 2012 – Bracco and Woodward have already agreed on one thing. They said the city will need a strong candidate to replace Pinheiro.

“I don’t think we can afford a drastic change where everything gets turned upside down,” Bracco said.

Woodward cited Pinheiro’s influence on the city when he spoke with the Dispatch in December.

“Without Pinheiro’s leadership, we’ll need a strong leader to take us forward,” he said. “That is my reason for running.”

Even if Bracco loses the mayoral race, his Council seat is safe until the 2014 midterm election. Woodward’s seat, however, will be up for grabs in 2012.

Pinherio said Tuesday he welcomed Bracco’s announcement.

“I’m glad he’s thrown his hat in the race,” Pinheiro said. “It’s nice to have choices.”

Pinheiro said he thought Woodward announced his bid for mayor “way too early.”

As a result, “Others aren’t going to be waiting to announce, now that you have Perry being the catalyst to start,” Pinheiro said.

Tucker agreed, saying Woodward’s early bid likely forced Bracco to announce his candidacy.

Woodward said he wasn’t surprised to hear Bracco was running because there had been rumors suggesting it would happen. When asked where he heard the rumors, Woodward declined to elaborate.

“I’m looking forward to a good campaign that will air out all the issues and the differences between the candidates,” Woodward said.

Pinheiro said he hoped City Council meetings wouldn’t turn into candidate debates.

“During meetings, we don’t need those political speeches,” Pinherio said. “I’m hoping these two gentlemen get past that and we can continue working together as a Council.”

Councilman Peter Leroe-Muñoz said he believed the council would retain its “professional” manner.

“I think everyone’s pretty good at separating campaigning from focusing on the issues and getting some work done,” Leroe-Muñoz said.

When asked if he would be running for mayor, Leroe-Muñoz said, “Trust me. I’m not.”

Dillon said the early announcements would not affect the Council’s regular operations.

“Nah, everybody is always running,” he said.

Bracco, who was re-elected to his second term in November, said it had “been a while” since he decided he would run.

“I was just seeing how things were in the city,” Bracco said. “In the times we’re in, we need leadership.”

In a release sent to the Dispatch, Bracco said the construction of a new public library, the city’s purchase of Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park and “maintaining a high level of public safety services in the midst of budget cuts” as accomplishments during his tenure on the council.

Bracco, who was born and raised in Gilroy and is a fourth-generation resident, owns Bracco’s Towing and Transport.

He’s has been a board member for the Gilroy Gang Task Force, Gilroy Gardens, the Gilroy Historic Heritage Committee and was once the chair of the Gilroy Planning Commission.

“I have a heart for this city,” Bracco said. “And I’m the best choice. It’s that simple.”

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