Public safety unions taking low profile this election

In a break from politics as usual, the unions of the Gilroy police and fire departments have kept a low profile in endorsing candidates for mayor or City Council, according to those running for office.

The Police Officer’s Association has endorsed mayoral candidate Don Gage, water district board member, but on a more passive level than they have in the past.

Gage himself went hunting for the endorsement by calling the POA to set up an interview, rather than the POA’s usual routine of calling candidates for interviews.

The POA did not return multiple phone calls.

According to campaign finance records, the POA did not donate to Gage’s campaign. Gage said they did, however, allow him to use their name in campaign literature.

They did not contact mayoral candidate Dion Bracco (because Peter Arellano, current councilman and mayoral candidate did not return phone calls, it is unclear If the POA reached out to him or visa versa), or any of the City Council candidates.

The Gilroy Firefighters Association also have been silent on the topic – the union did not respond to multiple calls, and according to all City Council candidates, they did not reach out to any of them regarding endorsements.  

“This is unprecedented,” said Perry Woodward, current councilman and council candidate. “ I haven’t heard their reason, and I would be curious to know what their thought process is that led to this break of tradition.”

Dion Bracco, current councilman and mayoral candidate, said the lack of outreach from the firefighter union surprised him.

“Some of their interests are being talked about so I’m a little surprised they’re not joining the conversation,” Bracco said. They’ve supported me in every election I’ve been in, so this was surprising.”

Candidates were hestitant to share why they thought the unions were holding back this year, noting only that it was surprising.

Council candidate Terri Aulman, a political newcomer to Gilroy, said the lack of contact also surprised her.

“I would have thought that if there are new people coming into run that they would want to contact us and find out what our thoughts are for things that matter to them,” Aulman said.

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