Gilroy small businesses owners are stepping up their role in local elections through the formation of a new political action committee that will endorse, financially support and campaign for local candidates who are supportive of the needs of small business.
GilPAC is an independent, nonpartisan committee that is made up of Gilroy Chamber of Commerce members who seek to strengthen the voice of business owners in Gilroy by contributing to City Council candidates and mayoral candidates who are pro-business.
Greg Giusiana, former Gilroy police chief, opened with a speech at GilPAC press conference Monday night at Station 55 Bar and Grill on Fifth Street.
“We want to put our money where our mouth is, and not just write a letter of support,” Giusiana said. “We want to endorse people who understand and sympathize with the needs of business.”
GilPAC asked each chamber member to donate $24 to go toward endorsing candidates along with their monthly dues. For the month of June, 43 renewal invoices were sent out and about 20 contributed – next month another round of invoices will be sent out, and so on – giving GilPAC leaders a good sense of the amount of chamber members who might donate, according to Susan Valenta, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce president.
GilPAC was formed independently of the Chamber of Commerce so that business owners could rally together and financially support candidates who are pro-business. In the past, the Chamber of Commerce has not been allowed to financially contribute to candidates because of legal restrictions.
Kristina Chavez Wyatt, vice chairman of public affairs for the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, said beyond directly donating to campaigns one of the goals GilPAC has for November’s elections is to send out a postcard to all likely voters in Gilroy (an estimated 4,000 households) highlighting the candidates they endorse. GilPAC also plans to purchase signs and other advertisements for their chosen candidates as well as volunteer time to their campaign, Chavez Wyatt said.
Candidates will be selected after a panel of chamber members invite each candidate to an interview. GilPAC plans to support Gilroy mayoral and City Council candidates as well as candidates for a few regional and state elections, such as the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the State Assembly.
“The current regulatory climate doesn’t understand business,” Chavez Wyatt said. “That’s why GilPAC is so important right now.”