City Councilmember Rebeca Armendariz should stand down from public office and save Gilroy citizens the expense and trauma of a recall election.
An independent investigation concluded that Armendariz knew about and assisted preparations for an illegal party at which teen drinking occurred and at which attendees were shot with guns—including one young man who died. The shooter has yet to be identified and face justice.
The councilmember facilitated the deployment of traffic barricades owned by the City of Gilroy and portable toilets, as well as an agreement with a neighbor to provide overflow parking for attendees.
Despite loud music, a beer keg and drink cups strewn about outside her home, Armendariz claimed to be unaware of the activity, which violated the city’s Social Host Accountability Ordinance. That law holds property owners responsible for loud or unruly gatherings on their premises. Armendariz tried to shift blame to her son and mother. The city-hired investigator didn’t buy her story.
Of even greater concern is the report’s suggestion that Armendariz may have tampered with evidence at a homicide crime scene and appeared more interested in moving the unlawfully deployed barricades than attending to wounded and dying shooting victims.
While the presumption of innocence is the legal standard for criminal convictions, that’s not the criterion by which elected officials are judged when it comes to their fitness for office. The bar is much higher. The absence of criminal guilt isn’t enough to qualify for public service.
People who make laws and policies that impact other community members must possess excellent judgment; she clearly fell short on that count. They must demonstrate integrity and be accountable. The Hanson Bridgett report cited credibility issues and a failure to fully cooperate.
“The Investigator found that the inconsistencies and inherent implausibility of Ms. Armendariz’s recollection of the party on October 29, 2021 at the Las Animas Avenue residence were significant and severely detracted from her credibility as a witness.” the report stated. “As a result, the Investigator did not credit much of the information she provided and found her to lack credibility.”
Armendariz should accept responsibility for her role in this tragedy and do the right thing by resigning from office. If she fails to do that, then putting the question of her fitness for office before the city’s electorate is, regrettably, the next step that makes the most sense.