The mix of applicants for the vacant Gilroy City Council seat reflects a merging of old and new Gilroy. Nine candidates for the 10-month appointment include several familiar longtime politicians and a few new residents who are Silicon Valley executives with experience at Google, eBay and Sun Microsystems.
There are also two former council members, three current or former planning commissioners and former chairpersons of the Housing Advisory Committee and the Historical Heritage Committee seeking the seat vacated by Perry Woodward when he became mayor Jan. 4. Most of the applicants said they would consider running for the seat after the 10 months are up.
The candidates, profiled briefly below, will be interviewed by the current council on Jan. 25 in an open session, and the new council member will be appointed right afterward. The application deadline was Jan. 15.
Robert Dillon has lived in the city for 31 years, served on the council from 2001-2005 and 2007-2012. He was also a library commissioner and served on the editorial board of the Dispatch.
In his application, he described high-speed rail as a “continual thorn in the city’s side,” and said his priorities are hiring a new city administrator, carefully crafting the general plan, which outlines the city’s future, and continuing the “downtown renaissance.”
He said he was probably not interested in serving past the 10-month term, but added, “I wouldn’t say never.
“I believe I have demonstrated my abilities in past council matters to parse and apply common sense to difficult decisions.”
Toby Echelberry, who has been a business manager for companies including Anritsu, Toshiba and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, said his main concern is economic development in the city.
“In order to grow a true balanced community, we need more than hundreds or thousands of new homes,” he said, adding that “there needs to be more of a push to bring more employment of not only retail, but all commercial.”
He said the city needs to sell businesses on growing here rather than having people commute to work hours away. A father of three, one in high school, one in middle school and one in elementary school, his application focuses on reducing Gilroy’s homeless population, preventing domestic violence and improving schools by eliminating gangs, bullying and drugs.
“Gilroy is not only where I reside, a city I shop in, but it is my home and my future,” he wrote. He would run for the council seat after this term, he said.
Joan Lewis was a planning commissioner for eight years and is a South Santa Clara County Fire District commissioner and vice president of the Gilroy Historical Society.
“I feel the biggest issue facing GIlroy at this time is jobs. We need to bring good paying jobs to our residents so they don’t have to commute out of Gilroy.”
She’s also concerned about poor roads and growth. “We should continue to promote infill projects and use master plans and strategic plans for larger projects,” she wrote. “Lastly, we should educate and encourage our residents to shop locally to keep our tax dollars here in town.”
She said she could only commit to serving this term.
Daniel J. Harney, who works at eBay, moved to Gilroy from Morgan Hill in 2011 to raise three kids in a place that focuses on “families, safe neighborhoods and good schools.
“In many ways I represent the past, present and future in Gilroy,” he said in his application, adding that he supports maintaining a “cherished small town community” and knows that it will grow significantly.
He favors bringing businesses to the unused industrial park in town and adding hotels and tourist venues to the downtown area.
“I think it is also important to state that I do not have any other political aspiration such as county or state politics,” he wrote. His wife is a nurse at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto.
Daniene Marciano, who retired as director of community-based educational options for the Santa Clara Unified School District, has been a Gilroyan for 11 years and is the niece of former Santa Clara councilwoman Aldyth Parle.
“I want to make a difference in planning the future of GIlroy,” she said in her application. She has managed a $5 million school district budget, worked as a liaison between the district and the Santa Clara City Council and been a consultant at Sun Microsystems.
Her husband has owned the Checkered Flag Classic Car dealership downtown for 10 years.
Current planning commissioner and former city councilman Paul Kloecker voted against the proposed 721-acre development north of Gilroy because he said it was too much and too soon. A Gilroy fixture, Kloecker was on the City Council for 12 years, on ABAG also for 12 and served on the library board, the Caltrain to Gilroy Planning Task Force, the building code appeals committee and the Parks and Recreation Commission, to name a few.
“I am therefore ready to rather immediately be a contributing council member needing little or no ‘learning curve.’”
Tom Fischer, a retired plumber who has lived in Gilroy for 40 years, is a member of the Planning Commission and has served as its chair and vice chair.
“The key issues facing the city today are: growth and revitalizing the downtown,” he wrote. “How fast we grow, where we grow and how orderly that growth occurs will help determine how successful the downtown becomes.”
He was on the commission when it voted unanimously to reject the planned 721-acre development north of town. Downtown, he said, is his top priority.
Harvard Law School graduate James Fay is CFO for View, Inc., a Milpitas firm that makes glass that can be adjusted over the Internet, to make windows more environmentally efficient. He’s lived in Gilroy for a decade and said his business background will help him manage executive issues.
His priorities include attracting businesses and jobs; improving the downtown; enhancing infrastructure and balancing the small community heritage with modernization and development.
“My professional background, critical thinking, problem solving and track record of execution illustrate that I can be a very valuable contributor to the council and city,” he wrote.
Insurance auditor Thomas Baer said his extensive fiscal background can help Gilroy resolve some of its major problems. A resident of Gilroy for two years, he’s worked for the California Casualty Management Company in San Mateo since 1981 most recently as Director of Internal Audit. He’s done cost-benefit analyses, monitored corporate staffing and been in charge of privacy.
His major issues include growth, downtown, water use, jobs and city pensions.
“I believe I should be appointed because I have the time, I do not have an agenda and I hope my financial background, ability to bring people together, ability to sell my ideas and project management skills will complement the many skill sets already on the council.”