Gilroy’s next mayor will face an unprecedented financial situation that is mired in uncertainty.
The mayor alone won’t be able to solve this issue. But how effectively they lead the city council during the next four years will be critical to Gilroy’s long-term survival.
There is no doubt that the two candidates, Marie Blankley and Reid Lerner, are passionate about their city and want to see it thrive. However, the next mayor should have the experience of navigating a council that doesn’t always agree as a whole, while looking at the broader picture that takes into account all the numerous people, organizations, businesses and other entities that keep Gilroy running.
We recommend a vote for Marie Blankley as Gilroy’s mayor.
Blankley, a Certified Public Accountant in Gilroy since 1996, has served on the council for more than two years. During this time, she has found herself in the minority with a number of high-cost decisions.
In October 2019, Blankley was one of only two councilmembers to vote against a city-funded program that provides housing loans to individuals hired for department head positions. The program is meant to attract qualified candidates from out of the area to Gilroy, but it adds to an already generous amount of benefits for the highest-paid employees of the city.
Blankley, who describes herself as “fiscally conservative,” also voted against giving former City Administrator Gabe Gonzalez a raise in 2019, as well as hiring a consultant to gauge support of a sales tax measure (which never came to fruition).
Her August vote in favor of a $142,890 contract to a consulting firm that will assess Gilroy’s sidewalks raised some eyebrows. But Blankley has defended her decision, saying an inventory of the sidewalks will result in cost-savings for both the homeowners and the city in the long run.
Lerner, who owns an architectural business in downtown Gilroy, has had success in this area that he wants to build upon if elected mayor. He’s served on various housing, nonprofit and business committees over the years, and was appointed to the planning commission in May.
In the campaign, he has primarily focused on downtown—which needs attention to be sure—but hasn’t presented a vision for the city as a whole, with its budget and public safety challenges. We applaud Lerner for primarily self-funding his campaign, especially as he is competing against Blankley’s well-funded run that is bankrolled by $750 donations from developers, real estate agents, a trio of political action committees and an army of retirees.
But the decision on Nov. 3 comes down to who has the experience and vision for Gilroy, and Blankley is that candidate.