Chamber, Residents Endorse Candidates

Chamber of Commerce endorses Bracco and Dillon
Gilroy – Campaign signs are popping up at the north end of Miller Avenue with the names of three council candidates, all of whom voted against a controversial housing proposal for the showcase street.

The signs bearing the names of planning commissioner Dion Bracco and incumbent councilmen Bob Dillon and Craig Gartman are clustered around two homes at 7861 and 7891 Miller Avenue that soon will be razed to make way for six new houses.

While few placards have cropped up farther down the tree-lined street, the three candidates have earned the endorsement of dozens of neighbors comprising the Miller Avenue Neighborhood Association.

The group’s choice of candidates comes as little surprise in the wake of a major zoning battle on the showcase street.

Dillon and Gartman were on the losing end of an effort to block the project, echoing neighbors’ complaints that higher-density development runs foul of the street’s character.

As a planning commissioner, Bracco also opposed the project.

“The candidates – Bob Dillon and Craig Gartman – have a vision for what Gilroy is about and what areas need preservation and what areas can sustain growth,” said Robb Alonzo, who lives next door to the project and led the fight against the project. “Commissioner Bracco also has (that vision).”

The group passed over incumbent Councilman Charles Morales, who some Miller Avenue residents have targeted for political retribution after he cast a crucial swing vote in favor of the developer. Morales has defended his decision as a way to avoid sprawl by encouraging growth in the city’s core.

Chamber chooses two

In addition to Miller Avenue residents, Bracco and Dillon this week pulled down the endorsement of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce.

“We feel that Dion Bracco has got a good strong business background, that many of the things that he stands for fit in harmony with the business community,” said Tim Day, president of the chamber. “We see Bob [Dillon] as someone who’s been a strong business advocate for many years on the council.”

Day would not specify why the chamber board chose not to support Gartman, whose name typically accompanies Bracco and Dillon on endorsements.

Chamber executive director Susan Valenta explained that eight of the 12 board members must sign off on endorsements. She would not say if Gartman’s responses last week during the group’s candidate forum played into the decision to pass him over.

Gartman and Bracco have earned endorsements from fire and police unions, while Dillon only secured the seal of approval from the latter.

Morales and his fellow Democratic council candidate Peter Arellano have secured a host of endorsements from the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group, and a host of Democratic state legislators.

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