Q & A with Rebeca Armendariz

Rebeca Armendariz

Why are you running?
I am running for City Council to ensure the whole Gilroy community is represented on the Council. What I mean by that is that there are working class and working poor in the community whose needs are not being met. If they were, we would not be facing increasing water bills, nor pandering to more retail business; instead we’d be working with Gavilan College, our local businesses and industry and the trade unions to better prepare our work force as the opportunities for good, sustainable jobs arise as the economy improves.
What are your three priorities?
Collaborate with GUSD to improve our schools, iource the public services that were contracted out, as appropriate and growth and development that is environmentally sustainable.
What is your opinion of the current relationship between City Council and City Administration?
I believe the relationship is professional and effective, I haven’t seen anything to show the community otherwise.
Are there further pension reforms the city should do? If so, what?
Yes, city managers and administrators should be subject to tiered pensions, as well as obligated to pay a greater amount into their pensions.
Is there an ongoing or specific one-time city expenditure you believe is wasteful?
The million dollar fund to the Economic Development Corporation at a time when youth and senior services were being cut and the $28K CDBG funding for free swimming lessons at South Valley for low-income kids recommended by the Citizens Advisory Commission wasn’t honored without a fight, wasn’t necessarily “wasteful” but was very untimely and hard to rationalize from my perspective.
Do you think Gilroy has a self-esteem problem?
I do, and I believe it is due to our need for a revitalized downtown that we can be proud of. Any direction we look towards we are going to see cities with a healthy and nice looking downtown. Watsonville has its plaza, Morgan Hill its promenade, amongst other amenities. We need to look into a special district or business district and invest more.
Gilroy has the highest unemployment rate in the county. What role does the Council play in ameliorating that?
We are a bedroom community, but many of us would much rather work here than commute. If well-paying and benefitted jobs were available here, we would have a lower unemployment rate and more involved community members. The City needs to work to create opportunities-and an attractive image-for industry and business to want to move to Gilroy. If we have an attractive downtown, business will want to locate here. We can also provide training through Gavilan College or through the trade unions. The high speed rail will bring many job opportunities to those who are prepared. We need to make sure Gilroy residents are prepared. As an employer the City should not be contracting out public services, by doing so we cut good jobs, in exchange for low wage ones to workers who are most likely from other communities. So we lose the employed resident, lose the money they would have spent here in Gilroy, and lose a quality, accountable public worker, in essence “cutting off our nose to spite our face.”
What volunteer activities are you involved in?
I am involved in Voz de la Gente, we focus on community issues and leadership development, as well as education and health. I also volunteer in the children’s classrooms at Las Animas. We also jus started Voz de los Jovenes, to develop and involve young people. I am also on the Advisory Board for CARAS, Community Agency for Advocacy, Resources and Service.
What are two of your favorite movies? Why?
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” – it has great action and a beautiful love story.
“The Color Purple” – Historically based fiction is always on the top of my list. This story reflects the suffering and resilience of a people through the story of two young women.
Should the City Council have supported the Gilroy Unified School District’s effort to place a sales tax measure on the ballot?
Yes, when our schools thrive, so do our communities, our quality of life, our property values and our potential for a better future. Besides, the families of our 10,000 students deserve the right to at least vote on this.  
Is the City solely responsible to fix all the buckling sidewalks in Gilroy?l
Not necessarily. The City should bear the brunt of the costs, because regardless of the homeowners sense of responsibility, the City is responsible for maintaining a safe and aesthetically pleasing walkway. 

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