Election 2020, Gilroy City Council: Danny Mitchell hopes to bring fiscal knowledge to city

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Gilroy is facing an uncertain financial future due to the Covid-19 pandemic depleting revenues and forcing layoffs and other cuts.

Danny Mitchell, a Gilroy resident for 60 years, said his decades of budgetary experience would benefit the city and the tough challenges that lie ahead.

“I am running for City Council to ensure our city has a bright future,” he said. “I have the experience needed to help restore our momentum improving the quality life for residents and businesses in Gilroy.”

Mitchell recently retired after 25 years with Gilroy-based Heinzen Manufacturing, where he served as a partner and chief financial officer. He said he helped grow the company from $3 million in sales annually to $30 million when he retired. It was there that he developed and maintained annual budgets, while managing the finance and accounting departments as well as administration, human resources and IT departments.

Mitchell has served as vice chair of operations and finance for the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce for the last three years, as well as serving on the Gilroy General Plan Advisory Committee for 2040. Mitchell’s experience also includes chair of the Gilroy Elks Lodge board of trustees and various capacities at South Valley Community Church, where he helped establish its finance committee.

During his time with the chamber, Mitchell said he began attending city council meetings, where he became a regular in the audience. Those meetings, he said, gave him an understanding of the issues that face the city.

Fiscal recovery is one of the top issues Mitchell said he will focus on if elected. With sales tax and other revenue sources dwindling due to the pandemic, Gilroy is faced with an $8 million shortfall over the next two years. The shortfall was addressed through layoffs and concessions, but it is unknown whether more will be necessary as the health emergency drags on.

“We are facing unprecedented budgetary challenges with revenue shortfalls and general fund cutbacks,” Mitchell said. “With my financial background, I will confidently assess and work with all city resources and community leaders to overcome fiscal impact.”

Gilroy also needs to ensure that it properly funds public safety with staffing, equipment and facilities to meet what Mitchell calls “growing demands.” Rising retirement costs are also something that needs to be addressed now, Mitchell said, with Gilroy’s costs expected to more than double to $13.5 million annually by 2025.

Gilroy’s parks department and its programs have been decimated, as county and state orders prevent a key component of such offerings: large gatherings. Mitchell said the city needs to rebuild its budget resources to bring back these programs, which he noted is an important part of residents’ quality of life.

“Being retired, I have the time resource to dedicate to the City Council,” he said. “Having been a leader and manager for most of my career along with a profession in accounting and finance, I feel this is what the city needs at this point to help them recover from this huge budget shortfall of revenue. None of the other candidates bring this level of experience to the council.”

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