Why are you running?
I am running for City Council because of my intense interest in quality, responsible local government. I desire to provide my background, experience and dedication for the benefit of my community where I have resided for 32 years. I have served three prior terms totaling 12 years on the City Council and I believe that experience is particularly valuable. I have been involved in numerous Boards, Commissions and Committees throughout the region during that prior service. Throughout my residency in Gilroy, I have been involved in volunteer community activities. I am currently a Commissioner of the Parks/Recreation Commission.
What are your three priorities?
My three priorities for City Council attention are:
A. Proper fiscal management and tightly controlled expenditures for viable well-defined needs of the City. Additionally, priority attention is needed for sound , long range financial planning to future disruptions to the financial stability of Gilroy so that the fiscal crises experienced by other cities can be avoided.
B. Allocation of resources for staffing and program support for public safety programs particularly those programs that address the youth gang problem in our community.
C. Preservation, enhancement and improvement of all other City functions and programs such as development planning, maintenance, infrastructure operations, recreation, responsiveness to concerns of Gilroy citizens and maintaining good cooperation and collaboration with other local and regional agencies and organizations.
The above are somewhat over-arching Council priorities that I feel are appropriate. In addition, I have specific areas of interest in which I would like to be significantly involved. These are participation in update/revisions to Gilroy General Plan as a basic planning document, review and up-dating of the RDO, and revisions to development impact fees. I consider that my engineering and financial background provide valuable experience for effort in these areas.
What is your opinion of the current relationship between City Council and City Administration?
As a candidate, as opposed to an Incumbent, my insight into Council/administration relationship is somewhat limited to observations during Council meetings and anecdotal comments by others. I have been regularly attending Council meetings since the latter part of 2011. I have not observed serious issues in that relationship, in fact, the presentations and staff reports to the Council seem to be thorough and responsive.
I am more concerned about the inter-relationships among the Council members which often appear to exhibit lapses in an attitude of teamwork. As a citizen, I would expect to see a greater degree of professionalism, teamwork and respect for opinions of other Council members. It is the nature of a seven-member governing body that opinions will vary and each member brings differing aspects to any issue. The decision process must include review of data, public hearings, professional discussion among members, voting on motions, decision by majority and then “MOVE ON.” Each member must conduct themselves in words and actions to create the environment for sound decision making for the benefit of Gilroy residents and organizations.
Are there further pension reforms the city should do? If so, what?
I believe that in the next round of Contract negotiations in 2013 and 2014, all aspects of benefits, particularly retirement benefits, should be open for consideration and possible further revision to reduce the future pension financial burden to the City. Included in this pension review should be a financial analysis that may lead to a major policy change from PERS to a 401k type of retirement plan. Apparently, such a financial analysis has not been considered. It is not at all clear that this would be beneficial but nevertheless, it should be reviewed.
Is there an ongoing or specific one-time city expenditure you believe is wasteful?
There three areas/functions that should be reviewed for possible wasteful expenditures or to make gains in efficiency of operation.
A. Street Sweeping: I have long felt that there are inefficiencies and wasteful expenditures in this function. Although I am glad to see that a pilot program is being instituted to better coordinate recycling operations with street sweeping to avoid overlapping of recycling containers and sweeping operations, there are other aspects that should be reviewed. I do not see the sense in running expensive sweeper equipment and associated labor cost on rainy days. Operations should be curtailed on those days to affect appropriate cost savings. The street sweeping operation is presently severely hampered, not only by the recycling containers but also by the parked cars. At least for major thoroughfares, it seems that a parking restriction for defined hours, days and side of street could be instituted. Another area that should be reviewed is the frequency of sweeping operations. Neighbor hood sweeping is now on weekly basis. Combined with parked cars and recycling containers, the operation is very inefficient and needlessly costly. Neighborhood frequency could be reduced to perhaps bi-weekly for further significant cost savings.
B. Sewer Cleaning Operations: The frequency of sewer cleaning operations by the Vactor Truck and crew seems to be excessive, particularly in the older areas of Gilroy. Although those operations are necessary for prompt resumption of service, as an Engineer, the observed frequency certainly indicates to me that there is an underlying cause of that frequency. I wonder if those problem areas have been specifically identified and planned for infrastructure improvement or repair.
C. Consolidation of GFD with other fire agencies: I recognize that this issue has been considered by the City Council in recent tears and I am not a particularly advocate of elimination of GFD by consolidation with others, but this should be periodically “On the Table” for possible cost savings, My concern is that consolidation may work well for smaller cities with reduced growth, consolidation may not be wise or feasible for a growing city as Gilroy. Of course, there is the factor of reduced control of a major city function by locally elected officials. Nevertheless, any previous evaluation study should be up-dated.
Do you think Gilroy has a self-esteem problem?
Self-esteem problem? No, on the contrary, I believe that the residents, businesses and organizations of Gilroy have a very high self-esteem about Gilroy. This pride of Gilroy is constant and everywhere in evidence. The attitude of Volunteerism is a huge asset in this community. Residents exhibit pride in home ownership and appearance of their neighborhoods, they participate in community events, they readily donate time and effort to charitable causes, there are diverse activities for all ages, sports programs are abundant, City Parks are top quality. Are there some negative opinions about Gilroy? Certainly, but those negative aspects such as crime, youth gangs, or homelessness are being addressed in a positive manner. In summary, high self-esteem and pride in Gilroy are a hallmark of this community. Community self-esteem is alive and well in Gilroy.
Gilroy has the highest unemployment rate in the county. What role does the Council play in ameliorating that?
I believe that the role of the City Council is to create the environment by policies and regulations that would make Gilroy a positive place for location or expansion of businesses. The Council needs to eliminate regulatory or development processes which hinder or prevent business development projects. These processes should permit a rapid approval process with fair and reasonable costs. In a broader sense, the Council needs to monitor and insure that policies relating to adequate housing, housing costs, recreation , reducing crime rate and other community livability functions are conducive to encourage businesses to locate or expand in Gilroy, thereby creating jobs for residents. The Council needs to provide funding support for activities which tend to be an investment or incentive for business to locate or expand in Gilroy. In short, the Council has a broad, important responsibility to foster the environment for unemployment reduction.
What volunteer activities are you involved in?
My current volunteer activities include: Member, Gilroy Parks and Recreation Commission, two years; specific activities include: Parks/Rec representative to Gilroy Senior Center Advisory Council, support Parks/Rec Commission fundraising activities; Member: Gilroy Exchange Club (recently appointed to board of directors); specific activities include support of annual Blue/Gold Dinner and other fundraising events; docent for Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, six years; specific activities include: Docent Advisory Panel, tour leader of Science Days and Girl Scout Camp activities, work crew for recycling cans/bottles, cleaning rides equipment and specific docent projects.
What are two of your favorite movies? Why?
My two favorite movies are “Apollo 13” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
“Apollo 13,” starring Tom Hanks, and a related documentary of “Houston we Have A Problem” because, not only was this space mission a significant technological achievement but the drama totally captured world-wide attention and brought great credit to the United States space program. Another, more personal reason I enjoyed this movie is that my college roommate, Glynn Lunney, was one of the Houston Flight Directors on that mission. Glynn was an outstanding Mechanical/Aeronautical Engineer who began his career with NASA and achieved significant successes throughout his career. This included Manager of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project and Manager of the Space Shuttle Project. In addition to his NASA career, he received advanced degrees, professorship at Tulane University Law School, a Patent Attorney and award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his achievements. His career is truly inspirational.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding” because it was an uproariously funny, thoroughly enjoyable movie which was a great “Friday night kick-back date with my wife and daughter.” I found it particularly enjoyment since I had a Navy assignment in New York City where I had several close friends and families among the Greek Jewish, Italian and other ethnic communities. I was fortunate to share many of their customs, traditions and festivities with them so I related this movie and the Greek family traditions to those experiences.
A third memorable movie was “The King’s Speech,” starring Colin Firth. I enjoyed this movie because of the superb acting, how a world figure, King George VI, overcame a significant personal disability, was loved and respected by his country and provided leadership to his country during WWII. Although the movie was not entirely historically accurate, it sufficiently related to true events to provide audience enjoyment. It prompted me to learn more of that era.
Should Gilroy have supported the Gilroy Unified School District’s effort to place a sales tax measure on the ballot?
I believe that the City Council adequately addressed this issue brought by the Gilroy Unified School District. The issue of adequate funding or Gilroy schools s a serious one affecting Gilroy families. School funding is a State issue and is very complex. Although the GUSD proposal seemed like a novel, innovative approach, there were very complex legal issues surrounding this proposal. Although, I would have preferred that the City Council continue the discussions and resolution of these serious questions and possible conduct of a city wide survey slanted to the City requirements, the critical fact of the matter was that the short period of time clearly mitigated against adequate resolution of these issue. Before any issue of that nature is placed on the ballot for voter decision, it must pass the legality test. Preliminary legal opinions and research definetly indicated that such a proposal is, in all probability, not supportable by State law.
I expect that, depending on results of Prop 30 or 38, that GUSD may resurrect this issue in coming months. A joint decision will then be necessary as to whether to expend time and effort to further research this issue. Clearly, the responsibility for adequate funding for education lies with the State and Legislature. It is indeed unfortunate that they are not meeting that responsibility.
In summary, the Council made the right call on this issue considering the short time frame for a ballot question to the voters.
Is the City solely responsible to fix all the buckling sidewalks in Gilroy?
No. According to state law, the property owner is responsible, however, the current City program is for the City and the property owner to share the repair cost of the sidewalks and the City to totally bear the cost of curb/gutter repairs. I concur with this program and it is supported by an annual allocation of City funds. I believe that the specific locations of sidewalk repairs should be screened to separate those instances where the sidewalk bucking may be caused, not by a street tree, but by a tree owned and installed solely on on property owned by the homeowner. In other words, the street tree did not cause the problem. By screening out these instances, presumably more funds can be allocated to those instances caused by street trees. Perhaps this is already being done but I don’t believe so. Another instance occurs where a wheel-chair access ramp is involved with the damaged sidewalk. In that instance, I believe the City should bear the repair cost rather than sharing with the property owner. The above examples may require a bit more effort of cost allocation but it will be fairer to the City and the homeowner. Significant progress is being made to the sidewalk repair program.
Why are you running?