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I write to you today with heartfelt sincerity and a deep sense of duty. 

At our recent City Council meeting on Monday, April 8, we faced a pivotal decision. The council deliberated on the adoption of SB329 guidelines for the City of Gilroy, which included a proposal to increase the compensation for Councilmembers and our Mayor. 

The figures presented were substantial, with a proposed 63% raise for councilmembers and a remarkable 301% increase to the mayor’s compensation. This increase, if approved, would have significant implications and cost the city an additional $80,040 per year out of the general fund. 

Those in favor of the increase passionately argued that it would promote diversity within the council and encourage candidates from different backgrounds to run for office. While I whole-heartedly support efforts to promote diversity, I do not believe that pay is the primary motivator that incentives a candidate to run. 

As a first-generation Latino, I’ve experienced firsthand the challenges that come with overcoming financial barriers and navigating discrimination. It was these challenges that made me stronger, more resilient and more passionate about helping those who are underserved be heard and represented. 

It was my passion to serve which truly compelled me to run for public office—not how much I would get paid. For nearly two decades, I’ve dedicated myself to public service, seeing my role not as a pursuit of financial gain, but of service to the community.

While the majority of the council ultimately passed a modified proposal for a more modest pay raise than what was originally proposed, I could not, in good conscience, support any increase. Not when I know that our first responders, who work tirelessly and make incredible sacrifices to protect our community sometimes take pay cuts or work longer shifts because there is not enough coverage. 

It deeply saddens me that such discussions took precedence over addressing critical needs within our community, particularly concerning public safety. Our focus should be on ensuring that all our residents have better fire protection, increased police presence to address crime, and additional School Resource Officers to safeguard our children and schools. 

As your city council member, I am entrusted to serve the best interests of the public, not look after my own. It pains me to witness our community’s pressing needs disregarded in favor of financial considerations. 

Therefore, our focus must remain resolute on ensuring the safety and well-being of all our residents. Despite the outcome of the vote, I want to assure you of my ongoing commitment to continue fighting for the best interests of this community, always prioritizing people over pay. 

Fred M. Tovar, M.Ed.

Gilroy City Council member

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