By Peter Leroe-Muñoz

The recent Capitol insurrection was an assault on American Democracy. Images of angry mobs, incited by the President’s baseless claims of electoral fraud, splashed across screens around the globe. As a local policymaker, I’m left wondering: what role can communities play in restoring respect for truth and democratic ideals?

Elected officials share the unique experience of having to run for office. Winners and losers are selected by the populace, entrusted with the right to vote and have their voices heard and respected. Gilroy has seen its share of controversial issues and electoral divisions. Yet in the aftermath of every local election, regardless of how charged or divisive, City officials come together and work with one another for the good of our community. Elected candidates assume office, and electoral losers respect the outcome. In all cases, the will of the voters is respected and executed.

Last week’s violence stemmed from a group of people who sought to override and silence voters who had exercised their civic and civil rights. The President’s incitement of this mob undermined the Constitution and all that we hold dear as Americans.

So where do we go from here? A good first step seems to be elected officials reaffirming our commitment to democratic principles of respect and fair play. Two days before the Capitol insurrection, the City Council spent time during our meeting to review our stated goals and expected behavior. These goals are a written commitment to respect one another and the public, to value diversity, and to always work in service of the community. These goals are not legal in nature, but they are something higher: moral in nature. They set the ideals for which local leaders will continue to work.

Gilroy will continue to have political issues that are controversial and difficult to solve. We shouldn’t shy away from those challenges. We should always work on those issues respectfully and towards the best interest of our city. Let’s continue to lead in the name of our community, and be the counterexample to those who only serve themselves.

Peter Leroe-Muñoz is a Gilroy City Councilmember.

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