Gilroyans have the opportunity to fill three City Council seats this election and there are five interesting and dedicated people willing to serve. All bring something different to the table. After an extensive interview session, our recommendations became clear.
Perry Woodward, an incumbent, is the top choice. He thinks independently, has the ability to intellectually challenge the city staff when necessary and has a fundamental grasp of his own political philosophy which helps him make decisions. His grasp of facts is impressive and he can more than hold his own on important regional boards like the Valley Transportation Authority where he represents South County. He understands that public pension reform is a necessity for the long-term financial health of our city government and is willing to talk specifics on how to solve the problem. That’s an example of what sets Woodward apart from the pack – political courage. Agree or disagree, you know where he stands and he articulates his position well so it’s clear how he arrived at his conclusion. Moreover, Woodward, a married father of two and an attorney, is a champion for local government transparency. He’s all about letting residents in on “the secrets” at City Hall so that people can judge for themselves how our officials are doing. That’s a key component to keep in place as a new mayor and a new Council take the leadership helm.
Paul Kloecker, a retired Navy officer with two grown children and a wife who’s a teacher, is a candidate with all the right stuff – experience, dedication to Gilroy, a willingness to study issues and a passion to change the recent sour-grapes dynamics that have poisoned local government. He has served with Don Gage, our clear choice in the mayoral race, and knows how an effective City Council should operate. We like his ideas on changing the annual retreat back to a lively discussion about vision for the city that engages all Council members at the outset of the process. We absolutely agree with his stance that it would be best for the city if binding arbitration for the firefighters and police were removed from the City Charter by a vote of the people. That said, Kloecker, a former three-term Councilman who began his service in 1983, has been there and done that. It’s only the notion that new ideas come from new candidates that prevents a full endorsement.
Cat Tucker has paid her dues as a planning commissioner and as an incumbent for the last five years. She’s a high-tech workforce commuter, a mom who has raised two children here and a middle-of-the road Councilmember who has been the swing vote on numerous occasions. While we concur with her positions on mending relationships with the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Trustees, we question why she hasn’t taken the lead on doing just that as a seated Council member. We also agree with her on recreation services being too expensive and too outsourced with for-profit companies, but again that fundamental change has happened on her watch. If the voters re-elect her, we hope she’ll take a more forceful leadership role on the issues that she defines as her own.
Terri Aulman is a planning commissioner who wants to take the next step. She’s all about potential and her IBM business background and her base philosophy is just what the Council needs now. She’s bent on cutting red tape and regulation at City Hall and, as a planning commissioner, knows that the process for project applicants can be protracted and punitive. A key component in our endorsement is that Aulman is open to seriously looking at new ways of doing government business. She understands a new reality is taking shape and she has a sharp mind that can navigate the pros and cons of issues and proposals. Aulman understands that there’s a potential relationship between government red tape and Gilroy’s 12%-plus unemployment rate. She’s a rare combination in that she advocates for affordable rec programs for our youth and understands the reality that if that’s going to happen the expense line for other city budget items has to be held in check. She’s a candidate who could become a rock-solid representative for years to come.
Rebeca Armendariz brings a different – and needed – perspective to the table as the daughter of a Latino activist, a Gilroy native and a union representative by trade. There are numerous positions she takes we strongly disagree with, yet if she can get beyond being a strident pro-union-everything shill on certain issues, Armendariz could become a well-rounded leader. Time will tell. Her perspective on gang/crime issues is bent on prevention and she’s so focused on school-related issues that it’s tempting to cast her off as a Council candidate and urge her to run for school board. But she’s intriguing enough on base issues and rightfully incensed about things like city rec youth soccer league costing $200 (minus a measly $20 scholarship) that it’s a voice which should be heard on the Council level. Armendariz will have to carefully choose from whom she seeks counsel, but we think she’s sharp enough to grow into an independent thinker.