Every level of government relies on volunteers. Nowhere is this more visible than in our local community, for it is here, at home, where community spirit is strongest. People freely volunteer their time and talent to support their schools, churches, civic committees and other public events, most notable being our Garlic Festival. They often receive little more than a “thank you” for their efforts. A “thank you” doesn’t sound like much sometimes, but those two words, if given with sincerity, carry far more weight than can ever be imagined. To receive a sincere “thank you” fills the recipient with pride that their efforts added to a greater benefit, but more importantly, makes them more inclined to do it again.
At the Sept. 13 Gilroy City Council meeting, we witnessed a talented and generous community volunteer be assailed from the dais. An event that was to be a happy sesquicentennial conclusion and thank you, for 31 months of effort, by dozens of volunteers and staff, was abruptly turned on its head. Councilmember Rebecca Armendariz publicly criticized a local artist from her position on the dais. Councilmember Armendariz’s arrogant and spiteful remark was uncalled for, hurtful and traumatizing.
Politicians expect to suffer the slings and arrows of abuse from the public; that goes with the territory. What is not permissible or expected is abuse from the dais. This volunteer has given years of service and talent to Gilroy, and the attack was not about the art, but about Councilmember Armendariz’s politics.
Due to the actions of one council member, the city of Gilroy now has a lot of community repair work ahead of it, if it is ever again to ask for volunteers. A good first step would be for Councilmember Armendariz to publicly and sincerely apologize before resigning from council. Councilmember Armendariz is a civic embarrassment. She needs to go.
Robert H. Weaver