Thank you for joining me for Gilroy’s 2021 State of the City address, and as we celebrate Gilroy’s 150th anniversary year.
I’m Mayor Marie Blankley, and I’m honored to be giving my first State of the City, albeit during an historic pandemic.
Vaccinations are in progress, and it’s only the availability of the vaccine itself that limits us in terms of how quickly we progress. Our mass vaccination site at Gilroy High School is open, distribution will continue at other locations in Gilroy as well, and our own firefighter/paramedics will provide mobile delivery to those homebound or otherwise without access. Mobile vaccination delivery has already begun for farmworkers in our community. Support each other as we wait through this process, refrain from comparing who’s getting vaccinated first, and know that the unfortunate truth is that far more people have very valid reasons for needing to be vaccinated yesterday than there are vaccines thus far.
Please, when you’re in the vicinity of others outside your home, wear a mask and stay distanced.
Our Gilroy community has suffered two extraordinary and devastating events back-to-back—this pandemic, and the Garlic Festival shooting. We stand together, Gilroy Strong, as the damage from both events continues like a burning fire not yet contained. But from the ashes, we will rebuild.
• Our timely action last June to reduce our city workforce, together with the money we had in our economic uncertainty reserves, has kept us going without further reductions. The City is its services, and the strength of our workforce defines our success.
• Our budget shortfall, after depleting our $5 million economic uncertainty reserve, will be about $3 million for this fiscal year. Barring further sales tax revenue shortfalls, we expect to maintain our current workforce and service levels into the next fiscal year. It should be noted, however, that our debt to CalPERS, which is our employees’ retirement system, has increased by $10.3 million, the result of underperforming CalPERS investments.
• We’ve helped our hardest-hit residents and small businesses with money from our general fund and from government assistance programs. Through our community partnerships we’ve helped hundreds of Gilroy families with rent and utility assistance and landlord/tenant disputes, and many more with food insecurities and those in need of shelter to isolate.
• We seek opportunities to add recreation adventure through better use of our city-owned property surrounding Gilroy Gardens. We have two proposals from reputable and viable companies that give us options to consider as we navigate the possibilities.
• The San Jose Sharks would like to bring Sharks Ice to our Gilroy Sports Park. The development of our Sports Park is exciting, and while we negotiate with Sharks Ice to anchor them as a tenant, we contemplate all of the possibilities for the space, including a badly needed community recreation center for Gilroy.
• The Gilroy Downtown Business Association has introduced a plan to improve downtown on Gourmet Alley between 4th and 7th Streets. With the cooperation of the building owners, Gilroy can expect to see real progress towards a thriving downtown.
• The school district has nearly completed the renovation of Brownell Middle School, and it looks great! Up next is South Valley Middle School, a renovation we can all look forward to.
• The City is addressing the housing shortage with proactive efforts to bring housing to Gilroy that meets our regional assessment shortfalls and helps to alleviate housing insecurities felt by so many.
These are just some of the things in the works, but this is how we rebuild. We strengthen our people, we strengthen each other, we seek opportunities. Let’s all be receptive to change, open minded to the possibilities, and accepting of each other’s perspective.
The attack on our nation’s capital on Jan. 6 was a new low and indicative of the growing unrest among us and the pain that divisiveness brings. As we heal from this pandemic, let’s also heal our hearts. Consider carefully the words we say out loud or type from our electronic devices. Are those words helping, or are they contributing to the divisiveness?
Let’s remember that from our residents and small businesses, to our city employees, to our city council and school board members, we are all people—people trying to make ends meet, people doing our best with our own financial and emotional struggles, people trying to help one another, and people deserving of appreciation and respect no matter our diversity or our differing opinions. Remember to be kind.
We are all people.
We are our people.
Thank you for joining me.
To view Mayor Marie Blankley’s 2021 State of the City address, visit tinyurl.com/uty7mn3v.