When it comes to electing public officials, bankruptcies matter.
While the fact that mayoral candidate Peter Arellano declared bankruptcy a few years ago after buying a fancy new car and getting deep in credit card debt and under water on two homes, one in Gilroy and the other in New Mexico, may not change a single vote, but it’s a reality that voters should consider.
It’s quite astounding that four candidates on the Gilroy ballot have declared bankruptcy. There are those who will loudly  proclaim that there’s absolutely no correlation between filing for bankruptcy and being an elected official in charge of taxpayer money. But that’s for the voters to decide, and it might very well turn out to be a deciding factor for some.
After all, our elected officials are in charge of our taxpayer bank account. Who you want to hand over the checkbook to is a bottom-line question?  
City Council candidate Rebeca Armendariz declared bankruptcy in 2003, vanquishing debts to a local doctor, dentist and jeweler in what she described as a spending spree after she landed her first “good job.”
Mayoral candidate Dion Bracco said a methamphetamine drug addiction triggered his personal financial downfall back in 1990.
Peter Arellano’s former wife, Rochelle, is running for the Gavilan College Board, and is listed as a joint debtor on the bankruptcy papers. She declined to elaborate on the couple’s bankruptcy circumstances.
Voters will have to sort out what’s relevant to their decision. But it’s obvious that a candidate without a bankruptcy has a financial leg up in all these races. It’s basic common sense that the ability to take care of one’s own finances would translate to taking care of other people’s money. Judgment and character are important traits for our elected officials.
A candidate who decides to employ a legal process to dismiss personal debt is a waving a red flag at voters.
Neither Peter Arellano or Dion Bracco have demonstrated particular acumen on or interest in the city budget as Council members. Is that what Gilroy voters want in a mayor?
The questions are pertinent, the bankruptcies matter. How much they matter and if they matter more in one candidate’s case than another is up to the voters.
The results will be in soon.

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