Mayor Perry Woodward on his first day
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The unusual series of events of December 2015 continue to reverberate. On Dec. 7, Mayor Gage resigned and the council voted to forward an annexation request to the county, ahead of the new general plan and over the objections of the planning commission.

The general plan was supposed to come before the council a week later, during the height of the holiday season, but somehow cooler heads prevailed, and the vote was delayed.

Councilwoman Cat Tucker was one of three council members that voted against the 721-acre expansion of Gilroy’s borders, but she mentioned that she might vote otherwise in the future. Tucker represents this area on the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), a state-mandated local agency that oversees city boundaries and can veto annexations.

While publicly expressing reservations about the North Gilroy Neighborhood District plan at the Dec. 7 council session, Tucker emailed interim city manager Ed Tewes two days later, according to a message obtained by the Dispatch in a public records request: “The Environmental Lobbyists are already at work. Submit the Application as soon as possible.”

On Jan. 4, Perry Woodward brought his wife, daughters and mother to the council chambers, and he had a speech prepared. Even before the council began discussion to select a new mayor, Woodward seemed confident of the outcome. What conversations transpired to lead to that conclusion? The public will likely never know.

In his remarks after being sworn in, Woodward pledged a commitment to transparency. In Gilroy, however, official business seems to transpire out of public view. For example, what do Woodward and NGND developer Skip Spiering talk about when they go duck hunting?

After Gage resigned, he received a note of appreciation from a San Jose developer. “If there is anything we can do for you, please let us know,” the developer wrote.

“I will look forward to future meetings with all of you,” the retired mayor replied.

Woodward will now have to rebuild trust to be successful as mayor. If the flood of comments to this newspaper are representative of the the community sentiment concerning the fast-track annexation initiative and the new general plan’s euphemistically named “Orderly Growth” alternative (the approval process of which has not been orderly at all), he will have to show that he represents, as he pledged, the interests of all Gilroyans.

On Monday, Woodward could have reached across the aisle to bring Gilroy together, as Dion Bracco did when he nominated Woodward for the mayorship. Instead, the new mayor, as his first act, nominated his closest political ally, Peter Leroe-Muñoz, to become his mayor pro-tempore.

Although interim city attorney Andy Faber assured the council that the un-agendized appointment was permissible, the lunge to nominate may not have exemplified shrewd political instincts. Only after Open Government Commission chair Walt Glines counseled, “If it’s not on the agenda, don’t do it,” Woodward had second thoughts and wisely delayed the appointment.

Tucker’s hurry-up message about the LAFCO application, Woodward’s duck hunting trips, Gage’s early valentines from developers and Leroe-Muñoz’s multiple contributions from NGND principals all suggest a cozy, inbred, insiders-only decision-making process on a landmark community issue.

Let’s open things up and have a genuine, broad-based, community-wide discussion about the future of Gilroy.

Everybody’s welcome.




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